Orlando: Women's Writing

Writers with Entries

New: July 2016

New Author Entries

  • Anne Francis, 1738-1800: scholar and poet. Her work engages with the Bible and with classical and modern European texts, theories of translation, and late in life with reformist politics, which she opposed.
  • Dorothea Celesia, 1738-1790: poet and playwright. From Genoa, where she lived with her Genoese husband, she persuaded David Garrick to put on her tragedy based on Voltaire, and after its success she published a long poem.
  • Frances Arabella Rowden, 1774-1840. A professional school-teacher in London, then in Paris, she educated a startling number of women writers from Mary Russell Mitford through Lady Caroline Lamb to Fanny Kemble. Her four books are mostly pedagogical, teaching botany, mythology, and literary history.
  • Catherine Maria Grey, 1798-1870, highly popular and successful novelist in didactic and silver-fork modes, whose works have in the past been almost inextricably confused with those of Maria Grey, James Malcolm Rymer (below), and the non-existent "Elizabeth Caroline Grey."
  • Barbarina Brand, Baroness Dacre, 1768-1854: another poet, amateur dramatist (more tragedy than comedy), writer of literary and domestic letters, and editor of novels by her daughter.
  • Mary Carpenter, 1807-77, devoted campaigner for improving the lives of the poor, who published prolifically in support of her philanthropy: of ragged schools, feeding schools, reformatory schools, prison reform, and women's education in India.
  • James Malcolm Rymer, 1814-84, author of penny dreadfuls, true-crime novels, and gothic horror, whose oeuvre has only recently been disentangled from those of Catherine Maria Grey (above), Maria Grey, and the invented "Elizabeth Caroline Grey."
  • Hannah Lynch, 1859-1904, Irish journalist, novelist, editor, translator, travel-writer, and mediator between French and English cultures. She is remembered for her controversial novel-or-memoir Autobiography of a Child (book publication 1899) and for keeping the Land League's paper, United Ireland, alive after its suppression by taking the type to Paris.
  • Pearl S. Buck, 1892-1973: American bestselling writer raised in China, who as a child thought herself Chinese. She was the first to write in any language of the courage and endurance of dirt-poor Chinese peasants. For only her second book (out of almost two hundred) she won the Nobel prize (first US woman to do so). Her books support progressive causes, and for years she was deemed suspect in the USA as a Communist, while banned in Communist China for showing the country in an unflattering light.
  • Teresa Deevy, 1894-1963: Irish playwright. Though handicapped by profound deafness, she had a play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1930, and a great hit there (her fifth play), 1936. Then plays were turned down in 1939 and 1942, apparently because of her interest in cramped and rural-Irish, female lives. The rest of her career was in radio drama.
  • Sue Townsend, 1946-2014, working-class comic writer: playwright, dramatist, social critic. She became a household name with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, 1982, and its sequels.
With this update Orlando mourns novelist and art historian Anita Brookner, and novelist, biographer, and historian Margaret Forster, who have both died since our last update. Like Ruth Rendell, Forster left a completed title, How to Measure a Cow, which emerged just a month after her death.

Entries Enhanced

Scrumptious new books to report. Many paid homage to Shakespeare this April, including Malorie Blackman in a most unusual young-adult story, Carol Ann Duffy in a masque, and Duffy, Wendy Cope, and many others in poetry. Maureen Duffy has published Pictures for an Exhibition, Helen Dunmore Exposure, and Rose Tremain The Gustave Sonata. Gillian Slovo published a novel, Ten Days, and had a new verbatim play produced: Another World: Losing Our Children to Islamic State. The 15-volume edition of Françoise de Graffigny's letters edited by English Showalter is complete. Pauline Johnson was splendidly represented in Tekahionwake: E. Pauline Johnson's Writings on Native North America, edited by Margery Fee and Dory Nason, 2015, and Janis Dawson edited for Broadview Press L. T. Meade's The Sorceress of the Strand and Other Stories, 2016.
The entry on Medora Gordon Byron, that dubiously-named novelist, has been rewritten (perhaps not for the last time) in the light of Andrew Ashfield's suggestion that 'Miss Byron' must have stood for Julia Maria Byron. Elizabeth Beverley (who, we now know, died of destitution in the workhouse), Harriet Downing (both of whose husbands, we now know, went bankrupt) and a number of other entries have benefited, too, from his trawling through wills and registers. Orlando is grateful.
Lissa Paul has newly identified Eliza Fenwick as responsible for another anonymous work for children: Songs for the Nursery, 1805. This first brought the world the haunting quatrain 'Arthur O'Bower', which was recognized sixty-five years ago as by Dorothy Wordsworth, but still appears all over the internet as anonymous and traditional.
Lucy Hutton. The Bodleian's purchase of her Six Sermonicles with her husband's inscription led to discovery of further information about this hitherto obscure proto-feminist in his writings and his ODNB entry.
Pamela Hansford Johnson. Orlando has noted disagreement about her status between Wendy Pollard (biographer) and Tessa Hadley (reviewer).
Patricia Highsmith has been fictionalized in Jill Dawson's The Crime Writer.
Sarah Kane. An extraordinary operatic adaptation of 4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables.
Hannah More. The Letters of Hannah More. A Digital Edition has been noted.
Mary More's feminist manifesto "The Womans Right Or Her Power in a Greater Equality to her Husband" has finally reached print, more than 350 years after she wrote it.
Mary Ann Radcliffe, Romantic-era feminist and memoirist, now has her birth family identified.
ALCS and the National Literacy Trust have set up a new annual award in memory of Ruth Rendell, to reward service to literacy.
J. K. Rowling, or the Rowling team, has conquered new territory, the stage, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The life of Eleanor Sleath, whose gothic writing attracted Jane Austen's attention, used to be a blank to history. Now we have a birth family for her, a social circle, a tragic first marriage, and a scandalous second marriage — thanks to the 'Sleath Sleuths' Rebecca Czlapinski and Eric C. Wheeler.
Julia Howe Ward: some revision consequent on Elaine Showalter's splendid new biography.
Mary Wollstonecraft: a street is to be named after her in the new King's Cross area, though the statue at Newington Green is still doubtful.

Free-standing events

With particular pleasure we enhanced the event on Edith Morley, the much-discriminated-against first woman professor at a British university, to mention her memoir Before and After: Reminiscences on a Working Life, which reached print for the first time this year.
A host of new material has been added on publications by authors without their own entries in Orlando; also on the Paris Commune, the Irish Land League and Ladies Land League, the first Irish parliament. The most recent newly-recorded event is the launch of the Women's Equality Party in Britain: it remains to be seen if we shall be hearing more about that.

Summary of Content

10 entries (7 British women writers, 2 other women writer, and 1 male writer); 22 new free-standing chronology entries; 291 new bibliographical listings; 23, 639 new tags; 81, 891 new words (exclusive of tags).
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