Early Eighteenth-Century Women Poets
In Poetic Sisters, Deborah Kennedy explores the personal and literary connections among five early eighteenth-century women poets: Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea; Elizabeth Singer Rowe; Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford; Sarah Dixon; and Mary Jones. Richly illustrated and elegantly written, this book brings the eighteenth century to life, presenting a diverse range of material from serious religious poems to amusing verses on domestic life. The work of Anne Finch, author of "A Nocturnal Reverie," provides the cornerstone for this well informed study. But it was Elizabeth Rowe who achieved international fame for her popular religious writings. Both women influenced the Countess of Hertford, who wrote about the beauty of nature centuries before modern Earth Day celebrations. Sarah Dixon, a middle-class writer from Kent, had a strong moral outlook and stood up for those whose voices needed to be heard, including her own. Finally, Mary Jones, who lived in Oxford, was praised for both her genius and her sense of humour. Poetic Sisters presents a fascinating female literary network, revealing the bonds of a shared vocation that unites these writers. It also traces their literary afterlife from the eighteenth century to the present day, with references to contemporary culture, demonstrating how their work resonates with new generations of readers.
Visit the Bucknell University Press blog to read an interview with author Deborah Kennedy.
"The resulting book is relaxed, even low pressured, blending narrative and description of the lives of these women lived with commentary on their poems [...] In each of these endeavors, biographical and critical, Ms. Kennedy offers something new."
"The most special thing about this book, is its teasing out of links or connections among the poets and their literary heritage, and within the obscured but perceptible tradition of women's writing."
-Isobel Grundy, University of Alberta, The Scriblerian, Spring/Autumn 2015 Vol XLVII No. 2 - XLVIII No.1
"Engagingly written, beautifully illustrated (visually and poetically), this study should attract a new generation of critics and scholars who will find the author's contextualization of the material and interpretations of individual poems fresh, provocative, and nuanced."
- Choice 50.11 (July 2013). Selected as one of Choice's"Outstanding Academic Titles of 2013"
"Poetic Sisters is a major contribution to our understanding of early eighteenth-century English poetry, so it therefore should have a place in every university's library to serve both scholar and student long and well."
-H. George Hahn, Towson University, The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer 27:2 (2013): 10-12.
"Kennedy's Poetic Sisters is a beautiful, vital book - the sort that one borrows repeatedly from the library before finally buying .... [It] is a welcome addition to a number of scholarly discourses for its erudition, grace, and insight. It is also an arguably necessary pedagogical resource, offering ways of thinking about the works individually and collectively - as isolated works of art and skill and as poems in dialogue with other works and their times - that can be borrowed wholesale or used to catalyze additional classroom innovation."
-Karen Bloom Gevirtz, Seton Hall University; Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature; Vol. 34, No. 2 (Fall 2015)
About the author:
Deborah Kennedy is professor of English at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She specializes in British literature of the eighteenth century and the romantic period. She is the author of Helen Maria Williams and the Age of Revolution (Bucknell University Press) and has published on a variety of subjects, including women's literary history, women and popular music, eighteenth-century art history, and the British poetic tradition.
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