Ageing, authorship, and female networks in the life writing of Mary Berry (1763-1852) and Joanna Baillie (1762-1851)

Culley, Amy (2017) Ageing, authorship, and female networks in the life writing of Mary Berry (1763-1852) and Joanna Baillie (1762-1851). In: Women's literary networks and romanticism: "a tribe of authoresses". Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780-1850 . Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, pp. 73-98. ISBN 9781786940605

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Devoney Looser’s research highlights the circumstances and challenges literary women faced in old age and their cultural and critical reception during their own lifetimes and beyond. The role of older women’s literary friendships in this fascinating narrative of ageing, authorship, and gender is yet to be fully explored. Reading the correspondence and (auto)biographical writing of Joanna Baillie and Mary Berry written from 1790s to the mid-nineteenth century provides a rare opportunity to investigate this theme. These works depict creative and collaborative exchanges, relationships with writers (both from their own generation and the next), professional interactions with publishers and booksellers, anxieties of reception, the pleasures and pains of ageing, and their commitment to continued publication into late life. In addition to contributing to studies of Romanticism and old age, conversely, reading literary networks and social authorship through the lens of ageing and the life course brings into sharper focus intra- and intergenerational connections and locates Berry and Baillie within and beyond Romantic literary culture. Furthermore, extending the analysis of life writing materials to include the biographical prefaces, obituaries, and collective biographies that followed the deaths of Baillie and Berry helps us to better understand and perhaps even refigure the enduring critical legacies of these authors.

Keywords:women’s ageing/old age, Mary Berry, Joanna Baillie, literary networks, Romantic women writers, friendship, female authorship
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q322 English Literature by author
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:30356
Deposited On:09 Mar 2018 13:21

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