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A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists From Brontë to Lessing

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  369 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Readers of this new, enlarged edition of the classic feminist study of British women novelists will find themselves delighted by Elaine Showalter's astute and acerbic critical intelligence. Showalter is one of the few scholars who can make her readers rush to their bookshelves to refute her point, or simply to experience again Jane Eyre, The Mill on the Floss, or the bitte ...more
Paperback, 378 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Virago Press (first published February 1st 1976)
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Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
Ebook, read on Open Library.

Think of this as a literature seminar with a really interesting professor who at times will read you passages of books and then tie them all back to the central theme. In addition, you'll get information about the society the books were written in, as well as lots of biographies of various writers. If you haven't read some of the literature (Wuthering Heights, Lady Audley's Secret, etc.) then there will be some spoilers. This however is a good thing, because the focus
Lucy Pollard-Gott
Jan 24, 2011 Lucy Pollard-Gott rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, an eye-opener earlyon as I became better acquainted with the many women novelists, what they wrote and why they wrote. Reading such encyclopedic surveys can be a distinct pleasure when, in this case, it is enlivened by Showalter's passionate advocacy for her subject and sprinkled throughout with her knowledge and wisdom. At about the same time I read the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, so I was on a roll with feminist self-education!
Abbi Dion
In Lady Audley's Secret (1862) Mary Braddon's bigamous heroine deserts her child, pushes husband number one down a well, thinks about poisoning husband number two, and sets fire to a hotel in which her other male acquaintances are residing.

The heroine in Rhoda Broughton's Cometh Up as a Flower (1867) Nell Le Strange is witty, exuberant, cheerfully frank, and outspokenly passionate; when she meets a handsome guardsman in the woods, her happiness is "limitless, frenzied, drunken." But he is marri
Barbara Mitchell
Jul 25, 2011 Barbara Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During a heat wave you would think I'd be reading something light and "beachy" but no, I've been reading this serious critical look at British women novelists from Bronte to Lessing from a feminist point of view. This is a revised and expanded edition of her original book published in 1977 I believe.

Those early women novelists were admirable, strong women. With all the restrictions on their education and lifestyle, they still managed to write novels that are widely read even today. Jane Eyre, Wu
Let me preface this by saying that I despised Wuthering Heights and feel that probably means I also despise Emily Bronte. That's important here only because the subtitle here is "British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing". I don't want anyone thinking that just because I read this book I automatically swoon over Wuthering Heights. 'Cause I don't.

Moving on. The purpose behind this book of Showalter's is to show that women are on a completely different plane than men. Not in a bad way, though
May 31, 2016 Mirte rated it liked it
A Literature of Their Own is one of the major works of feminist literary criticism written in the second feminist wave. It is truly seminal in many of its ideas, and forms a brave attempt at finding and (re)creating a sense of feminine heritage in literature.

However, it is also flawed in many points. The work is barely intersectional and focuses on works written by white, middle-class female authors, mostly from England. Furthermore, it is a little unclear in its actual theory and methodology,
Aug 14, 2014 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Really solid examination of women's writing (even though that is kind of a cringe category) from Charlotte Bronte to Doris Lessing. It's a classic of literary criticism, especially feminist criticism, and definitely deserves the accolade. I'd have loved to see earlier female authors dealt with, of course--Delarivier Manley, Eliza Haywood, Frances Burney et al.--and I'd also have been interested to see some more in-depth case studies of actual novels; Showalter's strategy is to range widely over ...more
Mar 30, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
This is one of the classics in feminist literary theory. It's a survey of British women writers, showing how their womanhood shaped their writing. It both confirms and refutes the idea that there is such a thing as "women's literature" It pleased the former English major in me.
Amanda Mecke
May 11, 2011 Amanda Mecke rated it it was amazing
Elaine Showalter pioneered women's studies in this book. If you love British novels and haven't read this book, you will discover wonderful writers -- and you will know how lucky we are today that they persevered.
an interesting read, and useful for those who want to know more about women writers in 19-century England.
Amalia Gavea
An exquisite volume of essays about some of the most prominent, and also, some of the most obscure, British women writers. What makes this work so special is the way Elaine Showalter presents her chosen writers. Many times, we see them through the eyes of a fellow writer. It was refreshing to see the views other women writers had for Charlotte Brontë or Virginia Woolf for example, and it was eye-opening to dive into the criticism these gifted women faced because they ''dared'' to break the chain ...more
Jan 17, 2011 Amelmag rated it it was ok
I mostly read this for its commentary on Virginia Woolf, and I can't say that I was overly impressed. Showalter brings interesting points about Woolf's physicality to light, but I think she does so at the expense of relegating her literature to a kind of anti-autobiography -- only interesting as an exploration of all the ways she should have written about herself (overtly) but didn't. And I think Showalter simply doesn't understand. Doesn't see the complex reality that Woolf weaves, in which the ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Gerda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderful review and analysis of women literature from early Victorian times to the interwar period.
A real eye opener in terms of how much women literature there was these days, how it reflected women's valued and ideals and how it was received and criticized at the time.
The book is well written and engaging and a great way to discover more female literature from the 19th century.
Mara Eastern
Nov 19, 2015 Mara Eastern rated it really liked it
Shelves: women
A highly readable commonsensical narrative of the story of literary women. A great introduction into the topic.
Jan 20, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
This basically boils down to a textbook, but it's still a well-written, interesting one. Clearly, Showalter put a lot of love, thought, and research into it, and it shows.

My main critique is that at times, I wished the scope was either much wider, or much smaller. There were many times when Showalter would make minor mentions of an author or a work before moving on to another topic, and I'd be left wishing for more details. Also, the appendix of female author biographies could definitely have be
Evelyn Ke
Aug 05, 2015 Evelyn Ke rated it really liked it
She failed at the flight to androgyny...
Stephanie Kelley
Jul 25, 2014 Stephanie Kelley rated it it was amazing
elaine showalter <33333
Oct 30, 2015 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender-studies
Essential for feminist literary criticism. I'll keep this one as a reference work :)
It's hard to rate a book you've only read a sliver of in order to argue against the feminist interpretation of Lady Audley's Secret. One star because I have to give it at least a star and another just for the fact that she is such a huge name in the criticism circle.
Masha3el Alshuwaihan
i like the way that she was describing the sitution of women writers , and how the socity reject their talented gift.
Apr 20, 2008 Latha added it
Traces the writings of women and speaks about the different phases of development in 'woman' writing
May 24, 2014 Vicki rated it really liked it
Important book about women writers.
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Elaine Showalter is an American literary critic, feminist, and writer on cultural and social issues. She is one of the founders of feminist literary criticism in United States academia, developing the concept and practice of gynocritics.

She is well known and respected in both academic and popular cultural fields. She has written and edited numerous books and articles focussed on a variety of subje
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