CFP: Female Voices in 1770s-1830s: Genres/Forms of Women’s Reading, Self-education and Writing in the Anglo-European Context

By Emily Paterson-Morgan

Mary Wollstonecraft, heralding the importance of female education along with the process of life-learning, claims in the preface to the collection, The Female Reader:

[…] supposing a young lady has received the best education, she has advanced but a few steps towards the improvement of her mind and heart – that is the business of her whole life; […] As we are created accountable creatures we must run the race ourselves, and by our exertions acquire virtue: the outmost our friends can do is to point out the right road, and clear away some of the loose rubbish which might at first retard our progress.[1]

Almost fifty years later, Mary Shelley transposed Wollstonecraft’s suggestions in the short story “Euphrasia; A Tale of Greece” (1838), published in the Keepsake. Like Wollstonecraft’s ideal lady, Euphrasia is a scholar:

The study of the classic literature of her country corrected her taste and exalted her love of the beautiful. While a child she improvised passionate songs of liberty; and as she grew in years and loveliness, and her heart opened to tenderness, and she became aware of all the honor and happiness that a woman must derive from being held the friend of man, …read more