By Susan Coultrap-McQuin
Coultrap-McQuin investigates the explanations for women's unparalleled literary professionalism within the 19th century, highlighting the stories of E.D.E.N. Southworth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gail Hamilton, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward. She examines the cultural milieu of ladies writers, the beliefs and practices of the literary market, and the features of women's literary actions that introduced them good fortune.
Originally released in 1990.
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Additional resources for Doing Literary Business: American Women Writers in the Nineteenth Century (Gender and American Culture)
Houghton read the letter and said, passing his hand through his hair, "I think I have forgotten something. " "I am glad, Mr Houghton," wrote Harriet Prescott Spofford, "that you have decided not to call the ladies from their sylvan solitude. I am deeply gaged in studying the peculiarities of some rushes that grow upon the banks of the beautiful river that rolls on by my door, crystallized at present, by the wayI mean riverin the mellowest moonlight that ever sifted its gold upon a beautiful world; so I couldn't attend anyhow.
The changing social circumstances of women, particularly middle-class ones, also provided opportunities for fuller public participation, despite messages that woman's place was in the home. Both cultural prescriptions and social circumstances provided the context within which women writers pursued their careers. The subjects of this study grew up in antebellum America, a time of great possibilities created by industrial and urban growth, westward expansion, and improved communications. They were aware of voluntary associations, utopian experiments, and reform crusades, including those for abolition and women's rights, that were changing the ways people ordered their private and public lives.
The True Woman's special responsibility was to be guardian of the cultural, religious, and moral values of Victorian society in America. She was to maintain the noncommercial values of love, hope, and charity in a secular age fascinated with business, competition, and endless expansion. With her innocence and charm, woman was to create a home life that was a refuge for men and children from the cruelty and unpredictability of the world. 16 Literary critics of the period, like most other social commentators, not only accepted but also preached the conservative vision of True Womanhood.