Eighteenth-Century Women Poets

Nation, Class, and Gender

By Moira Ferguson

Subjects: Feminist
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Paperback : 9780791425121, 164 pages, November 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425114, 164 pages, November 1995

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Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Mary Collier: Women's Labor, Gender/Class Identity, and National Building

3. Mary Scott: Historicizing Women, (En)Gendering Cultural History

4. Ann Yearsley, the Published Writings:Gender, Patriotism, and Resistance

5. Ann Yearsley, the Unpublished Poems:Confrontation Unmediated, Empathy Undisguised

6. Janet Little, the Ayrshire Dairywoman:Gender, Class, and Scottish National Identity

7. Conclusion




This book shows how eighteenth-century women's literature redefined nation and culture in class and gendered terms.


This book examines the poems of three Englishwomen—washerwoman Mary Collier, middle-class feminist polemicist Mary Scott, Bristol milkwoman Ann Yearsley, and Scottish dairywoman from Ayrshire, Janet Little. It questions how national identity might have influenced gender and class affiliations, and, reciprocally, how gender might have determined a nationalist impulse, particularly as it played out during the revolutionary period (1770-1800) in which most of the texts were written.

Moira Ferguson is James E. Ryan Chair in English and Women's Literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her recent publications include Subject to Others: British Women Writers and Colonial Slavery 1678-1834; Colonial and Gender Relations from Mary Wollstonecraft to Jamaica Kincaid; and Jamaica Kincaid: Where the Land Meets the Body.


"I most admire this book's combination of a learned understanding of eighteenth-century British culture with a keen political astuteness and a sensitivity to the literary historical problems presented by working with women writers in the period. Ferguson brings her subjects alive through a judicious use of biographical and cultural contexts. " — Donna Landry, Wayne State University

"It is a lively and engaging book which will be of crucial interest to both eighteenth-century scholars and students of women's literature. It is based on exemplary research, both bringing to light previously undocumented texts, and providing fresh contexts for other still relatively underdiscussed texts. " — Adela Pinch, University of Michigan