British Women's Life Writing, 1760-1840: Friendship, by A. Culley

By A. Culley

British Women's existence Writing, 1760-1840 brings jointly for the 1st time quite a lot of print and manuscript resources to illustrate women's cutting edge method of self-representation. It examines canonical writers, comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson, and Helen Maria Williams, among others.

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Extra resources for British Women's Life Writing, 1760-1840: Friendship, Community, and Collaboration

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21 The cultural anxieties inspired by female communities in this period are evident in Fletcher’s portrayal of the hostile responses of some local inhabitants. Mary Wollstonecraft remarks in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), ‘I object to many females being shut up together in nurseries, schools, or convents. 22 However, her discomfort regarding separate communities of women was reflective of general concerns that were only compounded by a religious context. 23 The Catholic connection is evident in the accusations levelled at Fletcher and Ryan that they were intending ‘to bring up these children for nuns’ (II, 18).

Nevertheless as he bore an honest character we accepted him. Mary Fletcher 43 But in a few days he appeared as one possessed of the Devil […] he run about the town night and day biding the people believe preaching Christ in the most rambling manner insisting he would live with us; that I should give him the Sacrament, & turning his body into all manner of forms, such as I think he could not naturally do. 24 But his shadowy presence reveals a potential threat to the women’s autonomy and demonstrates Fletcher’s awareness of the importance of distancing her community from association with the socially disruptive mania of enthusiasm, a condition traditionally understood as feminine and feminising.

In her comments on her role as author, Fletcher imagines herself as a passive vessel who casts herself ‘on the Lord to be guided by his hand as a mear machine’ (IV, 5). In her grief she suggests that she has no ‘sence or Memory’ and instead presents her writing as an act of ventriloquism and an extension of her husband’s words, hoping that she has ‘helped in a little measure that shout of praise to go forth, which with his dyeing lips he said “he wanted to reach to the Ends of the Earth”’ (IV, 11).

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