- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 25, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062394622
- ISBN-13: 978-0062394620
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature Paperback – October 25, 2016
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“An industrious work by an adoring reader…. Her converting zeal is apparent on every page, holding up passages of poems and novels to tempt us. With verve and brio, she imagines her modern self into her subjects’ minds.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Not Just Jane restores seven of England’s most fascinating and subversive literary voices to their rightful places in history. Shelley DeWees tells each woman writer’s story with wit, passion, and an astute understanding of the society in which she lived and wrote.” (Dr. Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire and creator of docuseries The Ascent of Woman)
“Not merely delightful nonfiction. It’s a moving and heartfelt tribute to seven forgotten literary foremothers whose works were widely admired and just as widely consigned to moldering oblivion. What we need are many more books in the spirit of Not Just Jane.” (Lyndsay Faye, author of Jane Steele)
“Shelley DeWees has admirably filled in the gaps for us, introducing us to the many daring, exciting women writers out there beyond Austen, the Brontës, Eliot, and Woolf. If you want to know not only what women were up against in the pre-modern era but also how women turned to the pen as a source of liberation, then this is the book for you.” (Anne Boyd Rioux, author of Constance Fenimore Wilson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist)
“I found Not Just Jane delightfully engaging. DeWees emerges as the Indiana Jones of literary archeology, and we are forever in her debt.” (Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and Austenprose.com)
“Second Wave feminism reclaimed long-forgotten late 18th and early 19th century ‘authoresses’, but they still largely remain unknown outside the academic community. Now Shelley DeWees’s readable and engaging study of seven of the best introduces them to a wider audience. They deserve it.” (Professor Janet Todd, OBE, editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen)
“Reveal[s] the interesting lives and strong characters of these oft-forgotten writers…. This book succeeds at making readers aware of the gaps in our knowledge of British literature…planting the seed that there are many treasures out there waiting for a second chance. (Kirkus Reviews)
“Masterfully weaves a tale of history, culture, and writing.… Not Just Jane is a gem, a rediscovery of female perseverance in a patriarchal society, and shows how deftly, artfully, and successfully female writers can navigate their circumstances.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)
“Together, the essays work to broaden our understanding of literary history.” (Book Riot, “20 Great Essay Collections from 2016”)
“DeWees’s biographical assessment of seven English women authors of the 18th and 19th centuries marks an enthusiastic…addition to the ongoing project of recovering ‘lost’ women writers…. She does important work in challenging the notion of canon.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A true delight, both for its honorable mission and for its eloquent execution.” (Chronic Bibliophilia)
“Fun.... Lovers of Austen’s books and film adaptations of her work will find much to enjoy in this informative overview of authors.” (Library Journal)
“Interweaving the fascinating stories…and the social, cultural, and economic realities of their times, an insightful group portrait of these groundbreaking women emerges. Lively…. An important contribution to the scholarship of women’s literature.” (Booklist)
From the Back Cover
A witty, fascinating feminist history of literary Britain.
You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel. Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add a couple of others to this list . . . but there the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain?
In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women-—Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon—DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate, and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life, and the literary landscape, during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women—among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel—who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.
Top customer reviews
Wanting to make the world aware that there’s more to the English literature than some Jane Austin mixed with a little Charlotte Bronte, DeWees introduces her readers to seven famous women almost no one has ever heard of: Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. (Before reading the book, I was only vaguely familiar with two of them, and my husband a different two for different reasons.)
These authors had sad, often tragic, lives and struggled to make a living in what was truly a man’s world. More importantly, they once made strong contributions to Britain’s literary scene, yet won’t be found on today’s high school reading lists. DeWees might change that, however. She peeks into each woman’s backstory, showing how their work shaped their lives and vice versa. From poetry to short stories, from major works of fiction to political and social commentaries, these writers left a lasting impression, even if it generally goes unnoticed or unrecognized. DeWess is right. They deserve our consideration today.
I would suggest skipping or at least skimming the introduction. It picks an odd straw-man fight with Austen and the Brontes that doesn't make too much sense and has little to do with the rest of the book, which is fascinating, erudite yet not dryly academic.