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Items tagged with 'Four Nations'

Article: Four Nations Fiction by Women, 1789–1830

This collection of articles, which results from the ‘Four Nations Fiction’ conference that took place in 2013, is structured around the intersection of place with gender in terms of two vibrant research fields: the archipelagic or four nations turn within literary studies and the still-expanding map of Romantic-period women’s writing. Continue reading

Article: ‘The bounds of female reach’

The Birmingham-based novelist Catherine Hutton (1756–1846) was acknowledged in the Monthly Magazine for 1821 as one of ‘twenty-four ladies of pre-eminent talents as writers in various departments of literature and philosophy’. Her work is little read or discussed these days, but offers some fascinating possibilities for research into women’s writing and narratives of travel. This chapter explores how Hutton’s frequent visits to Wales from the 1780s, recorded in travel journals, provided both material and form for her later novels. Welsh landscapes and Welsh culture are often figured in her fiction as spaces of possibility and freedom for women, and are used, in terms that owe much to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, to critique the constraints of contemporary urban society. Continue reading

Article: The ‘Noble Savage’ in Ann of Swansea’s Welsh Fictions

The writings of Ann Julia Hatton (1764–1838), who from 1810 published under the pen-name ‘Ann of Swansea’, reflect changes in the political spirit of her age as it interwove with episodes in her personal history. Though her 1784 collection of verse is conventional in its politics, The Songs of Tammany (1794), a panegyric in praise of the American-Indian ‘Noble Savage’ written during the years she spent in New York, is heated in its denunciation of European colonialism. After she returned to Britain in 1799 and settled in Swansea, her novels Cambrian Pictures (1810) and Guilty or Not Guilty (1822) showed an equivalent radicalism in their depiction of Welsh characters casting off the yoke of subservience to a corrupt Anglicized gentry and demonstrating that an upbringing in Wales instils all the natural virtues as opposed to the artifices of contemporary civilization. In other fictions, however, such as her satire on the townspeople of Gooselake (i.e. Swansea) in Chronicles of an Illustrious House (1816), Welsh ‘Noble Savages’ have befooled themselves by succumbing to the allure of corrupting sophistications. This paper explores these transitions in Ann of Swansea’s fictional representations of Wales. Continue reading

Article: ‘English verdure, English culture, English comfort’

This article shifts attention away from the perfections of England to explore the place of Ireland in Jane Austen’s Emma. Intrigued by Jane Fairfax’s refusal to travel with the Dixons in Ireland, Emma conjectures spitefully about an unrequited—or possibly consummated—affair between Jane and Mr Dixon. Obfuscating his actual affair with Jane, Frank Churchill uses Emma’s Irish conjectures to flirt with both women. Ireland becomes a repository of gothic potential over the course of Austen’s novel: a space upon which characters can map their unspoken and unspeakable desires. Austen accesses the Irish gothic to ask questions about national identity, legitimacy and power. Continue reading

Article: Canals, Commerce and the Construction of Nation

The interplay between commerce and sensibility has been well documented: commercial activity is celebrated in eighteenth-century sentimental rhetoric for its ability to incite civility, reform manners and promote virtue. In the same way, the transformative effects of commerce informed discourses of sympathy and national identity throughout the latter half of the eighteenth century and into the Romantic period. This article considers Sydney Owenson’s focus on commercial improvement in post-union Ireland in her 1814 novel O’Donnel: A National Tale. As Owenson developed her formal experimentations with the national tale, she made a series of revisions to the 1812 edition of St Clair (originally published in 1803) in which she echoes contemporary political discussions about Ireland’s potential for trade through the navigation of its waterways, suggesting an emerging interest in Irish commercial progress that would go on to influence her subsequent novels. O’Donnel appraises the value of English schemes for Irish improvement in the form of canals, aqueducts and road building within the context of Enlightenment models of historical progress and sympathy. In doing so, Owenson provides an extended critique of ascendancy schemes of improvement and of the role of geography in the formation of Irish national identity, revealing a profound anxiety about both the ideological ‘mapping’ of the Irish landscape in the post-union period and the formation of international communities based on sympathetic identification. Continue reading

Article: ‘She had recourse to her pen’

This article explores Elizabeth Hamilton’s response to the abuse of Jacobin radicalism in early nineteenth-century Britain. It situates Hamilton’s fictional representations of revolutionary principles and her outspoken caricatures of contemporary radicals in her three-volume Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800) within the trajectory of the gradual decline of radical voices from the mid-1790s onwards. This article demonstrates how new philosophical principles are presented in the novel as impractical and subversive in nature, as a way for Hamilton to show readers that these principles are dangerous and likely to be falsely adopted to destroy all fair domestic and public values. Ultimately, it argues for the discursive space Hamilton created to challenge and destabilise Jacobin radicalism, and also aims to shed light on the gendered conventions of public participation in the period. Continue reading

Article: Making Space for Wollstonecraft

In 1798, Mary Barker published her only known novel, A Welsh Story, which follows members of two Glamorganshire families through courtships to marriage and parenthood. Largely forgotten today, Barker was good friends with Robert Southey, collaborated with Wordsworth to publish Lines Addressed to a Noble Lord (1815) an attack on Byron and lived amongst the Lake Poets for much of the early nineteenth century. Reading A Welsh Story alongside Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) I argue here that Barker altered the form of Wales-related Romantic novels and utilised the radical potential which the imagined space of Wales offered her in order to create a fictionalised vision of Wollstonecraft’s depictions of, and idealistic hopes for, British society. Continue reading

Post: Conference report for Four Nations Fiction: Women and the Novel, 1780-1830

It’s not often that you get the chance to go to a conference which will involve a trip to the pier, a day spent at one of Wales’ national treasures, and introductions to several undeservedly-forgotten … Continue reading

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