Welcome to the fourth episode of Hidden Histories podcast series – The Great Forgetting: Women writers before Austen. In this episode, Helen Lewis and our guests Sophie Coulombeau, Liz Edwards and Jennie Batchelor thrash out the impossible question: Who is the most interesting female writer of the Eighteenth Century?
Here’s a few snippets about their chosen favourites:
Liz Edwards on Hester Thrale Piozzi
When Frances Burney asked her friend Hester Thrale if she’d ever been in love, Hester answered her yes – ‘with myself, & most passionately’. It’s a moment that sums up her voice – witty, unusual, lively, poised, self-mocking – a personal voice that defines her as a writer.
Sophie Coulombeau on Frances Burney
Her novels represent a bridge between the eighteenth-century picaresque and the Romantic quest to express interiority. They pioneer innovative literary techniques such as free indirect discourse. They give us an unrivalled window into eighteenth-century life: its fears, anxieties, pleasures and pains. Finally, they make a staunch argument for the validity and significance of ‘Female difficulties’.
Jennie Batchelor on Anon
Anon. is the most important figure in women’s literary history, arguably in literary history full stop. She has long been mis-understood and is undoubtedly a tricky customer but that’s why she’s so important. Anonymity was not, in the main, a veil or shield for 18th-century women writers, it, not signed authorship, was simply the default position.
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And learn about the series guests (and even more reading suggestions) at the series page.