In anticipation of our forthcoming special issue on ‘The Minerva Press and the Literary Marketplace’, this post is the first in a series by Colette Davies reflecting on the role played by the firm during the Romantic era and its somewhat tarnished reputation in the following centuries—a challenge that the essays in our new issue seek to address. Continue reading →
Women’s Literary Networks and Romanticism: ‘A Tribe of Authoresses’ is the first book to appear in a new series, ‘Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780–1850’, edited by Tim Fulford and Alan Vardy. This … Continue reading →
The personal writings of popular nineteenth-century poet Felicia Hemans indicate her desire to alleviate social constraints on women to improve their education, yet her poetry’s female figures often seem overly attached to domesticity or lacking in emotional fortitude. This paper addresses ways in which a study of early modern female writers of history can inform Hemans scholarship, particularly by drawing on Megan Matchinske’s work on the ‘dying-tale’ in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613). Similarly, Hemans promotes the necessity of women acting to ensure successful political and personal endurance in ‘The Switzer’s Tale’. Furthermore, in the pedagogy of Records of Woman (1828), Hemans responds to the problem of visual dominance in art by adopting a multi-sensory approach to communication that relies especially on the auditory. This strategy takes part in a broader epistemic approach to history that criticises the reliability of memory and the transience of human bodies. Ultimately, Hemans suggests that transcendence occurs through the exercise of the human will, the ultimate representation of which is martyrdom. Continue reading →
As the most infamous novel publisher of the Romantic period, William Lane’s Minerva Press garnered significant attention in the book review periodicals of the day. This article uses the Novels Reviewed Database, 1790–1820 and quantitative methodologies to track the ways that Lane, his press and the novels it published, were presented to England’s reading public while the press flourished. The Reviews critique the novels’ subject matter, originality, the material makeup of the printed books and gendered authorship. Taking up that data, this article provides a qualitative analysis of the long reaching implications of the rhetoric deployed by the Reviews in their scathing criticisms, and traces how it continues to pervade modern scholarship on the press today. Continue reading →
This essay examines the rich and hitherto unexplored rivalries and connections between the Romantic periodical and the Minerva Press through the lens of the hugely popular Lady’s Magazine; or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex (1700–1832). Close attention to the points of contact outlined in this essay is multiply illuminating, I argue, not least because it forces us to challenge enduring but misleading associations about popular literary forms, professional authorship and women’s writing in the Romantic era. The Lady’s Magazine and the Minerva Press presented aspiring authors with competing, but complementary, mass-media outlets that were eagerly exploited by hundreds of Romantic-era writers, many of whom published energetically with both. These writers’ negotiations of the literary culture of the day—their movements between publishers at key moments in their lives and turn to different modes of publication as and when it suited them—were signs of their precarity, but also of their professionalism and persistence. Uncovering these writers’ stories enables us to uncover alternative, yet ubiquitous, stories of authorship in the Romantic period that merit the telling precisely because they recalibrate our sense of how Romantic authorship was experienced by some of the most popular writers of the era. Continue reading →
Through the exploration of a selection of Minerva titles from across the period of the Press’s dominance (1790–99), focusing on the recurring trope of violence, its varying portrayals by individual authors, and its censure by critics, this essay argues that the Press makes a unique contribution to the Romantic literary marketplace with regard to its output of violent gothic fiction. In particular, it proposes that what some Minerva authors were doing was cleverly combining gothic sensationalism with historical fact, thereby allowing Lane’s press to gain popularity by catering to the fashion for violent gothic novels while simultaneously responding to rhetoric about the corrupting influence of such violence on female readers. In addition to this, at a time when historical writing was not showcasing the horrors of war that women were experiencing, the use of gothic conventions when writing historical conflicts permitted writers to do exactly that—the implication being that Minerva authors’ use of gothic violence was not simply to entertain, but also to portray the horrors of war and its impact on women and the domestic space. Taken together, the use of historical facts alongside gothic tropes in Minerva Press works allows for a confident evaluation of the formation of an historical gothic mode. Continue reading →
In the wake of a personal scandal that Horace Walpole dubbed ‘The Gunninghiad’, Susannah Gunning returned to literary writing after some years’ absence from the scene. The two works she published with William Lane’s Minerva Press in 1792, Anecdotes of the Delborough Family and Virginius and Virginia. A Poem, in Six Parts. From the Roman History, demonstrate both Gunning’s artistic range and Lane’s marketing genius. Together, Gunning and Lane capitalised on the Gunninghiad scandal in an attempt to rehabilitate Gunning’s reputation as a writer and fill the coffers of the press. This article re-examines Gunning’s undervalued literary career to argue that publishing with Lane afforded her opportunities to rewrite the scandal of which she’d been a part, experiment with literary genres she had yet to explore, and profit from what she lived and wrote. Continue reading →
This collection of nine essays, several by well-seasoned scholars of Minerva or its novels, exemplifies how crucial collaboration is and will be for continued understanding of the popular novel in the Romantic literary marketplace. The essays in ‘The Minerva Press and the Literary Marketplace’ converse with each other in multiple and overlapping ways, and have been divided into three sections that illuminate exciting new inroads to scholarship on the Minerva Press. ‘Minerva Genres’ illustrates the generic diversity of Lane’s publications; this is followed by ‘Minerva Readers and Writers’, which nuances the customary profiling of Lane’s authors and his target audience; while ‘Reading Minerva with New Methods’ reassesses Minerva’s reading communities, both contemporary and more modern-day. Continue reading →
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 →
In her excellent essay on the dramatist Joanna Baillie, Louise Duckling quotes Lord Byron reflecting on Voltaire’s assertion that ‘“the composition of a tragedy required testicles”—If this be true’, Byron writes, ‘Lord knows what Joanna … Continue reading →
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