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Conspiracy and VirtueWomen, Writing, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century England$
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Susan Wiseman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199205127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205127.001.0001

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Legitimizing Conspiracy: Anne Halkett, Rachel Russell, Aphra Behn

Legitimizing Conspiracy: Anne Halkett, Rachel Russell, Aphra Behn

(p.313) 8 Legitimizing Conspiracy: Anne Halkett, Rachel Russell, Aphra Behn
Conspiracy and Virtue

Susan Wiseman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the discursive importance of gender in the politicised writing of the 1670s and 1680s and traces relationships among the apparently highly distinct politicised prose genres of memoirs, letters, and scandalous history. It analyses the claims to virtue made in the memoir of Lady Anne Halkett and the letters of Rachel Russell, and ends with a discussion of Aphra Behn's Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister as a response to the politicised rhetoric of authenticity. Halkett wrote two kinds of texts in which she is obliquely and fairly directly critical of some aspects of the very monarchy on which her significance as a political actor depended. It is not simply that letters and memoirs by women as well as men participate in the battle to possess political ‘truth,’ but that an acknowledgement of this allows us to begin to qualify and reinterpret the political and porno-political genres and vocabularies of the Restoration.

Keywords:   gender, politicised writing, Lady Anne Halkett, Rachel Russell, Aphra Behn

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