Dare to overturn preconceptions about the nineteenth-century arts with this fascinating work. Two assumptions are often made about the arts of the 19th century; firstly, that urban centres of the 19th century are where the arts flourished and ‘provincial’ centres were rather more inferior in their contributions to art, music and literature; and secondly, that women played a lesser role in their contribution to the arts. It is two such notions, which S.W. Jackman challenges in his highly detailed study of a range of Irish nineteenth-century women writers.
Through eight far-reaching, biographical sketches of prominent Irish women writers, the author demonstrates that ‘provincial’ prose and poetry was not of lower status, but simply different.
As the reader discovers the backgrounds to writers, such as: the ‘doyenne,’ Maria Edgeworth; Sidney Morgan; Marguerite Blessington; Helen Dufferin; Caroline Norton; Speranza Wilde; Augusta Gregory and Edith Somerville, so it becomes clear that 19th century literature knew no sexual or geographical boundaries. This well-researched study portrays above all how the writers’ contributions appealed very highly to the romantic Victorian spirit and helped greatly in shaping Western culture.
Literature was a lady-like pursuit even if pecuniary motives were paramount, and a woman did not lose caste by writing fiction.
From Chapter One: Maria Edgeworth