Shakespearean Sensibilities: Women Writers Reading Shakespeare, 1753–1808

  • Judith Hawley


In 1903 David Nichol Smith published a collection of eighteenth-century essays on Shakespeare in order to demonstrate that ‘there are grounds for reconsidering the common opinion that the century did not give him his due’, and that ‘the eighteenth century knew many things which the nineteenth century has rediscovered for itself’.2 The problem was that Romantic Shakespeare criticism had obscured or had appeared thoroughly to trump that of the previous era. In recent years, a great deal of expert attention has been productively paid to reassessing the state of Shakespeare and Shakespeare studies in the period 1750 to 1830. For example, Jonathan Bate has written on eighteenth-century and Romantic appropriations of Shakespeare in poetry and popular culture,3 and at least four books have been published in the last seven years on editing Shakespeare in the eighteenth century.4 This is aside from the more general surveys of Bardolatry, of Shakespeare’s many lives, and more theoretical considerations of the meanings of Shakespeare.


Eighteenth Century Woman Writer Male Writer Poetical Justice Shakespearean Play 
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  1. 2.
    David Nichol Smith (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Essays on Shakespeare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903, 2nd edn 1963), Preface to first edition, p. iii.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Jonathan Bate, Shakespeare and the English Romantic Imagination (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986)Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Simon Jarvis, Scholars and Gentlemen: Shakespearean Textual Criticism and Representations of Scholarly Labour 1725–1765 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Peter Martin, Edmond Mahne: Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)Google Scholar
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  7. 5.
    Brian Vickers’ six-volume anthology, Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage, 1623–1801 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974–81)Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    See, for example, Jane Aaron, A Double Singleness: Gender and the Writings of Charles and Mary Lamb (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  14. 8.
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  15. 12.
    Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. James Kinsley and John Lucas (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1980), p. 306.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    Voltaire’s many writings on Shakespeare were gathered into one volume by Theodore Besterman, published in the series Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, vol. 54 (1967)Google Scholar
  17. Besterman, Voltaire (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1969, 1976), pp. 131–58.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    For example, she omits Widow Capilet, Diana and Mariana (All’s Well); and Froth, Mistress Overdone, Pompey and Mariana (Measure for Measure). For the argument that Shakespeare’s comedies provide a liberating middle space, see Carol Neely, Broken Nuptials in Shakespeare’s Plays (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  19. 31.
    Anna Jameson, Shakespeare’s Heroine’s: Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical, and Historical (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1911), p. 31.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Judith Hawley

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