Trends in Women Writers, 1890-
BONNIE J. ROBINSON
“Estranged from thyselfe . . . Being strange to me That individable incorpo-
rate Am better than thy deere selfes better part” (William Shakespeare,
Comedy of Errors
II ii 124).
and appreciation for women writers at the turn of the nineteenth cen-
tury, the Edwardian Age, the
fin de si
The last two decades have seen
critical studies of long-overlooked poets, poets such as Augusta Webster,
“Michael Field,” E. Nesbit, Emily Watson, and Charlotte Mew, by such
scholars as Susan Brown, Angela Leighton, Holly Laird, Yopie Prins, Maria
Frawley, Margaret Stetz, Linda Hughes, Suzanne Rait, and Linda Mizejewski.
These poets’ lives are being examined in the upcoming
Dictionary of Liter-
volume on “Late Victorian and Edwardian Women Poets,”
edited by William B. Thesing.
Their work is being re-published, in both
book and electronic form.
Angela Leighton, Margaret Reynolds, Jennifer
Breen, and Margaret Higgonet have produced excellent anthologies of Vic-
torian women poets, anthologies which include work from this period.
the Victorian Women Writers’ Project, from Indiana University, transcribes
into electronic form unpublished works, or works no longer in publication,
by these women poets, a work of recovery begun by Margaret Stetz’s “Turn-
ing-Points” section of her (now defunct) journal
Only since the 1980s, when
these women poets received close attention.
The Modernist canon,
privileged poetry, nevertheless ousted these poets, for various reasons—
among which was their association with mass culture and so-called senti-
Critics such as Celeste Schenck, Deborah Fried, Nancy
Miller, Wendy Milford, and Rita Felski have served, first, to interrogate the
causes for this ousting, and, second, to suggest counter-values with which
to recuperate their work and so to negotiate what Andreas Huyssen called
“The Great Divide,” Modernism’s feminized Other, mass culture, defined
as the “degraded
forms of cultural production circulating among both the