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Women writers and old age in Great Britain, 1750-1850 /
Devoney Looser.
imprint
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.
description
xvi, 234 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0801887054 (acid-free paper), 9780801887055 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.
isbn
0801887054 (acid-free paper)
9780801887055 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
6658109
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [205]-226) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-02-01:
With this book, Looser (Univ. of Missouri) means to open a new field that might be called feminist literary gerontology. Whether she succeeds is unclear: little in the way of useful generalization emerges from her case studies of the literary work in old age of Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Catherine Macaulay, Hester Thrale Piozzi, Anna Barbauld, and Jane Porter. A chapter on Jane Austen is devoted to showing that in creating the Miss Bates of Emma, Austen did not challenge stereotypes of the aged female. Yet if Looser fails in her larger aim, and if she offers no literary criticism of a high order, the book is compelling and interesting. Like a latter-day Isaac D'Israeli, Looser explores many byways of 18th- and early-19th-century authorship and publication. Accordingly, specialists in those periods will find here a trove of useful, thought-provoking historical anecdote. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and researchers. D. L. Patey Smith College
Reviews
Review Quotes
A groundbreaking study of the late careers of women writers.
"A groundbreaking study of the late careers of women writers." -- Year's Work in English Studies
Although Looser's assumptions may not be shared by every reader, the book is so well informed and ends with such a vast bibliography that everyone stands to learn by it.
"Although Looser's assumptions may not be shared by every reader, the book is so well informed and ends with such a vast bibliography that everyone stands to learn by it." -- Marialuisa Bignami, Modern Language Review
A pioneering effort in what will undoubtedly prove to be another useful perspective from which to consider literary history.
A well-written, imaginative, carefully researched, and fascinating study.
"A well -- written, imaginative, carefully researched, and fascinating study." -- Lisa Vargo, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
Compelling and interesting... Like a latter-day Isaac D'Israeli, Looser explores many byways of 18th- and early-19th century authorship and publication. Accordingly, specialists in those periods will find here a trove of useful, thought-provoking historical anecdote.
"Compelling and interesting... Like a latter-day Isaac D'Israeli, Looser explores many byways of 18th- and early-19th century authorship and publication. Accordingly, specialists in those periods will find here a trove of useful, thought-provoking historical anecdote." -- Choice
Devoney Looser has written an extremely important book that sensitively explores ageism and the literary marketplace just when the Mothers of the Novel were writing their final chapters.
"Devoney Looser has written an extremely important book that sensitively explores ageism and the literary marketplace just when the Mothers of the Novel were writing their final chapters." -- Laurie Kaplan, JASNA News
Devoney Looser is one of the best at bringing together biographical evidence, sophisticated theory, and literary sensibility.
"Devoney Looser is one of the best at bringing together biographical evidence, sophisticated theory, and literary sensibility." -- Paula R. Backscheider, Studies in English Literature
Elegant and original study... Looser not only offers a fresh perspective on individual reputations but raises intriguing questions about the procession of 'generations' in literary history.
"Elegant and original study... Looser not only offers a fresh perspective on individual reputations but raises intriguing questions about the procession of 'generations' in literary history." -- Elizabeth Eger, Times Literary Supplement
Engaging and clearly written, Looser's book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of what it meant to be an elderly female writer in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries while also identifying important considerations of fact and methodology often overlooked without the perspective of age studies.
"Engaging and clearly written, Looser's book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of what it meant to be an elderly female writer in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries while also identifying important considerations of fact and methodology often overlooked without the perspective of age studies." -- Kay Heath, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies
Groundbreaking in a variety of ways... This work is well written, thoroughly (and pretty amazingly) researched, and presents a convincing critical argument not only for its subject, but also for the continuation of studies about the subject.
One of the strengths of Women Writers and Old Age is Looser's uncompromising willingness to acknowledge how difficult it was for older women writers to triumph over the cultural forces ranged against them.
"One of the strengths of Women Writers and Old Age is Looser's uncompromising willingness to acknowledge how difficult it was for older women writers to triumph over the cultural forces ranged against them." -- Roxanne Eberle, Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas
So meticulously researched and her prose so pleasantly lucid and unassuming... Looser crafts a convincing argument for the reexamination of women writers like Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Jane Porter, and Anna Letitia Barbauld, paying closer attention to their later lives and works.
"So meticulously researched and her prose so pleasantly lucid and unassuming... Looser crafts a convincing argument for the reexamination of women writers like Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Jane Porter, and Anna Letitia Barbauld, paying closer attention to their later lives and works." -- Jeanine M. Casler, Papers on Language and Literature
The book's lively introduction offers plenty of promise. Looser conveys considerable enthusiasm about her subject and the impressive archival research she conducted for Women Writers and Old Age. Throughout the six chapters, Looser maintains a lucid and engaging style that many contemporary scholars might well emulate.
"The book's lively introduction offers plenty of promise. Looser conveys considerable enthusiasm about her subject and the impressive archival research she conducted for Women Writers and Old Age. Throughout the six chapters, Looser maintains a lucid and engaging style that many contemporary scholars might well emulate." -- Marilyn Roberts, Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer
This is a thought-provoking... contribution not only to old age and gender studies but also to the literary history of the long 18th century.
"This is a thought-provoking... contribution not only to old age and gender studies but also to the literary history of the long 18th century." -- Anne-Julia Zwierlein, Zeitschrift fuer Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Wide-ranging and scrupulous book explores a neglected and fascinating subject.
"Wide-ranging and scrupulous book explores a neglected and fascinating subject." -- Caroline Gonda, Eighteenth-Century Fiction
With Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750--1850 ... Devoney Looser is one of the best at bringing together biographical evidence, sophisticated theory, and literary sensibility.
With Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750--1850... Devoney Looser is one of the best at bringing together biographical evidence, sophisticated theory, and literary sensibility.
With Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 17501850 ... Devoney Looser is one of the best at bringing together biographical evidence, sophisticated theory, and literary sensibility.
"With Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750--1850... Devoney Looser is one of the best at bringing together biographical evidence, sophisticated theory, and literary sensibility." -- Paula R. Backscheider, Studies in English Literature
Women Writers in Old Age, 1750--1850 , provides a valuable contribution to the nascent field of study.
Women Writers in Old Age, 1750--1850, provides a valuable contribution to the nascent field of study.
Women Writers in Old Age, 17501850 , provides a valuable contribution to the nascent field of study.
"Women Writers in Old Age, 1750--1850, provides a valuable contribution to the nascent field of study." -- Patricia Murphy, Nineteenth-Century Literature
Devoney Looser's new study shows us that there's nothing new about disdain for older women. As she illuminates the personal challenges faced by older women writers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Looser also brings to light a number of fascinating writings produced by her subjects in their late years... This inquiry asks us to rethink literary history in general and women's literary history in particular.
"Devoney Looser's new study shows us that there's nothing new about disdain for older women. As she illuminates the personal challenges faced by older women writers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Looser also brings to light a number of fascinating writings produced by her subjects in their late years... This inquiry asks us to rethink literary history in general and women's literary history in particular." -- Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This groundbreaking study explores the later lives and late-life writings of more than two dozen British women authors active during the long 18th century.
Main Description
This groundbreaking study explores the later lives and late-life writings of more than two dozen British women authors active during the long eighteenth century.Drawing on biographical materials, literary texts, and reception histories, Devoney Looser finds that far from fading into moribund old age, female literary greats such as Anna Letitia Barbauld, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Catharine Macaulay, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Jane Porter toiled for decades after they achieved acclaim -- despite seemingly concerted attempts by literary gatekeepers to marginalize their later contributions.Though these remarkable women wrote and published well into old age, Looser sees in their late careers the necessity of choosing among several different paths. These included receding into the background as authors of "classics," adapting to grandmotherly standards of behavior, attempting to reshape masculinized conceptions of aged wisdom, or trying to create entirely new categories for older women writers. In assessing how these writers affected and were affected by the culture in which they lived, and in examining their varied reactions to the prospect of aging, Looser constructs careful portraits of each of her subjects and explains why many turned toward retrospection in their later works.In illuminating the powerful and often poorly recognized legacy of the British women writers who spurred a marketplace revolution in their earlier years only to find unanticipated barriers to acceptance in later life, Looser opens up new scholarly territory in the burgeoning field of feminist age studies.
Main Description
This groundbreaking study explores the later lives and late-life writings of more than two dozen British women authors active during the long eighteenth century. Drawing on biographical materials, literary texts, and reception histories, Devoney Looser finds that far from fading into moribund old age, female literary greats such as Anna Letitia Barbauld, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Catharine Macaulay, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Jane Porter toiled for decades after they achieved acclaim -- despite seemingly concerted attempts by literary gatekeepers to marginalize their later contributions. Though these remarkable women wrote and published well into old age, Looser sees in their late careers the necessity of choosing among several different paths. These included receding into the background as authors of "classics," adapting to grandmotherly standards of behavior, attempting to reshape masculinized conceptions of aged wisdom, or trying to create entirely new categories for older women writers. In assessing how these writers affected and were affected by the culture in which they lived, and in examining their varied reactions to the prospect of aging, Looser constructs careful portraits of each of her subjects and explains why many turned toward retrospection in their later works. In illuminating the powerful and often poorly recognized legacy of the British women writers who spurred a marketplace revolution in their earlier years only to find unanticipated barriers to acceptance in later life, Looser opens up new scholarly territory in the burgeoning field of feminist age studies.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Women Writers and Old Age, 1750-1850p. 1
Past the Period of Choosing to Write a "Love-tale"? Frances Burney's and Maria Edgeworth's Late Fictionp. 31
Catharine Macaulay's Waning Laurelsp. 51
What Is Old in Jane Austen?p. 75
Hester Lynch Piozzi, Antiquity of Bathp. 97
"One generation passeth away, and another cometh": Anna Letitia Barbauld's Late Literary Workp. 118
Jane Porter and the Old Woman Writer's Quest for Financial Independencep. 141
Conclusion: "Old women now-a-days are not much thought of; out of sight out of mind with them, now-a-days"p. 168
Notesp. 179
Bibliographyp. 205
Indexp. 227
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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