Celebration Edition #405:
"The Learned Lady in England 1650-1760."
By Myra Reynolds.
Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1920.
One of the things that I've noticed is that feminism, and works written by women, seem to go through cycles of discovery and forgetting. As a graduate student I used to haunt the college bookstore, watching for new editions of early works through England's Pandora and Virago presses, and bemoaning the cost of the ever-so-tantalizing but more expensive scholarly editions of early works. But one of the most delightful acquisitions I found was not in the university bookstore, but in a second hand shop down the street. There I came across Myra Reynolds "The Learned Lady in England 1650-1760". Years before the current waves of feminist scholarly interest, Reynolds painstakingly collected the available details of every woman she could find from that time period. She invariably mentioned the women whose lives I found so fascinating, quoting from their works and placing them in their societal and educational context. Other scholars have discovered more information since, and some of her conclusions reflect the time in which she herself wrote, but her book is still enjoyable and full of wonderful information about women who might otherwise have been lost from history. I'm thrilled to be releasing her wonderful book from 1920.
Every time Myra Reynolds discussed a book that I had republished in the Celebration of Women Writers, I realized again how much she had inspired this site. You can thank her when you read Anne Killigrew's "Poems" (1686), or Dorothy Osborne's letters, or Margaret Cavendish's wonderful science fiction account, The Blazing World, or Margaret Fell's "Woman Speaking Justified" (1666), or any of the other works online.
FELL, Mrs. MARGARET. Women's Speaking Justified Proved and Allowed of by the Scriptures, London, 1666.
KILLIGREW, ANNE. Poems London, 1686.
OSBORNE, DOROTHY. Letters from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple, 1652-1654. Edited by E. A. Parry. Dodd, Mead and Co., 1888.
NEWCASTLE, MARGARET, DUCHESS OF. The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing-World. London: Printed by A. Maxwell, 1668.
One of the exciting things about the web is that it has the potential to make works more accessible, to counteract the repetitive "erasure" of women from history. While proofreading I kept finding wonderful quotes. I encourage you to tweet your favorites as you read.