Chapter

The ‘business’ of a woman's life and the making of the Female Philosopher: the works of Mary Wollstonecraft

Jennie Batchelor

in Women's Work

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780719082573
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701829 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719082573.003.0004
The ‘business’ of a woman's life and the making of the Female Philosopher: the works of Mary Wollstonecraft

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This chapter addresses the complex turns that the debate on women's work took in the specific context of the 1790s and, more specifically still, in the non-fictional and imaginative publications of one of the most vocal and eloquent commentators on this issue, Mary Wollstonecraft. Her extensive, but by no means internally consistent, reflections upon the labour and literary marketplaces signal crucial, and in many ways decisive, developments in the narratives about work and authorship that this book examines. Most particularly, an investigation of her polemical writings, philosophical works, travel literature and novels suggests that the more labour was prized in late eighteenth-century writings on political economy, and the more centrally its language figured in the republic of letters' self-presentation at the century's close, the more vital and the more difficult it became for women writers to press the discourse of labour into the service of their gender and textual politics.

Keywords: women's work; women writers; Mary Wollstonecraft; labour market; literary marketplace

Chapter.  15075 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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