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Women Novelists Before Jane Austen

By the time Ian Watt published The Rise of the Novel. in 1957, it was clear that many women novelists before Jane Austen had been overlooked in critical studies of literature and that some of them had been completely forgotten by the reading public. In this book, Brian Corman explores the question of how and why this came about. Corman provides a systematic survey of the reputations of early women novelists as canons of the novel developed over a period of roughly two hundred years, and, in so doing, suggests reasons for their frequent exclusion. Women Novelists before Jane Austen challenges the view that exclusion from the canon was a simple function of gender and goes deeper to examine potential reasons why certain women writers were overlooked. In the process, it provides an overview of histories of the British novel from the beginning through to the mid-twentieth century, ending with the publication of Watt's famous text. Further, Corman offers a prolegomenon to the important recovery work of the late-twentieth century in which many revised accounts of the history of the novel appeared, essentially improving the scope covered by Watt. This study historicizes the place of early women novelists in the British canon in order to provide an informed context for current views.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction The Eighteenth Century 1800-1840 1840-1880 1880-1920 1920-1957 Conclusion Appendix: Novels Cited Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Brian Corman is a professor and chair of the Department of English at the University of Toronto.


"Corman convincingly charts the changing evaluations of early women novelists before Jane Austen. It is a welcome addition to historicist interpretations of the novel as a genre and casts an illuminating light on women writers in the commercial literary market place during any period." Margaret J.M. Ezell, Eighteenth Century Fiction, vol 22:04:10 'Corman has performed a real service by reading systematically(and very thoughtfully) in novel criticism from late eighteenth to the mid twentieth centuries and documenting with considerable exactness the formation of the novel canon and its accompanying prejudices and blind spots.' -- John Richetti Eighteenth-Century Life; vol. 34:03:2010

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