Women in the Literary Market 1800-1900

Learned Poets
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Female poets faced challenges beyond those confronted by novelists. Unlike novels–which held a low position in the hierarchy of cultural production–poetry, with its classical origins and long male tradition, stood at the pinnacle of high culture. Attempting serious poetry could be risky for women.

For much of the nineteenth century, men and women alike commonly assumed that women were not capable of true creative genius or sustained intellectual inquiry. Hence, evidence of high literary ambition by a woman could prompt especially condescending critical commentary.

At the same time, poetry paid less than fiction, and the poet’s implied lack of financial need served some women well, permitting pursuit of a literary career with little of the social taint associated with work for pay.

continue to Getting into Print

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
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