Women in the Literary Market 1800-1900

Charlotte Brontë, 1816-1855
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Charlotte Brontë's earliest literary exercises were in the genre of poetry. Her decision to abandon poetry for novel writing exemplifies the major shift in literary tastes and the marketability of literary genres–from poetry to prose fiction–that occurred in the 1830s and 1840s.

Early in her career, Charlotte sought advice on her poems from Robert Southey, then poet laureate of England. His assessment of the hopeful young writer’s literary expectations, preserved in a letter dated March 12, 1837, has become infamous:

Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life: & it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure she will have for it, even as an accomplishment & a recreation. To those duties you have not yet been called, & when you are you will be less eager for celebrity.

continue to George Eliot

introduction
early role models
entering the literary market
learned poets
getting into print
charlotte bronte and george eliot
sin and sensation
new women
education
journalism
activism
L.T. Meade
the three volume format
credits
home
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