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Women, Writing, and Revolution 1790–1827$
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Gary Kelly

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198122722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122722.001.0001

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Feminizing Revolution: Helen Maria Williams

Feminizing Revolution: Helen Maria Williams

Chapter:
(p.30) 2 Feminizing Revolution: Helen Maria Williams
Source:
Women, Writing, and Revolution 1790–1827
Author(s):

Gary Kelly

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122722.003.0002

Helen Maria Williams provided readers in Britain with a sustained eyewitness account and analysis of the French Revolution, yet her position as a writer was trebly marginal. Her intellectual culture came from religious Dissent and its provincial Enlightenment. But she was marginalized even within these cultures by being a woman. Williams was one of many women writers helped in her career by male mentors, often men who themselves participated in the feminization of culture as a way to reform civil society in the image and interests of the professional middle class. Her first mentor was Andrew Kippis, a scholar, advocate of social and political reform, and leader of the English Dissenting Enlightenment. Kippis helped her to publish her first work, Edwin and Eltruda: A Legendary Tale (1782), an anti-war poem, foregrounding the sorrows of a young woman deprived of her father and lover by an armed conflict that seems to have no legitimate cause and no positive outcome — an implied critique of the conflicted public and political sphere dominated by men.

Keywords:   French Revolution, women writers, religious Dissent, feminization, Edwin and Eltruda: A Legendary Tale

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