Women's Work: Labour, Gender, Authorship, 1750-1830

Research output: Book/ReportBook


*Women's Work* challenges influential accounts about gender and the novel by revealing the complex ways in which labour, as material reality and philosophical concept, informed the lives and writing of a number of middling and genteel women authors publishing between 1750 and 1830. This period saw momentous changes in the configuration of the domestic household and the labour market, as well as in the practice and conceptualization of that most precarious of occupations, authorship. As such, Batchelor contends, it provides a particularly rich, yet largely neglected, seam of texts for exploring the vexed relationship between gender, work and writing. The book's introduction explores some of the reasons why women's work has been historically absent from the stories we've told about eighteenth-century women writers' lives and novels, and suggests how recognition of its presence can complicate these narratives in important ways. The four chapters that follow contain thoroughly contextualized case studies of the treatment of manual, intellectual and domestic labour in the work and careers of Sarah Scott, Charlotte Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft and women applicants to the writer's charity, the Literary Fund. By making women's work visible in our studies of female-authored fiction of the period, Batchelor reveals the crucial role that these women played in articulating debates about the gendered division of labour, the (in)compatibility of women's domestic and professional lives and the status and true value of women's work that shaped eighteenth-century culture as surely as they shape our own.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010

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