The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Romantic-Era Women's Writing

Living Edition
| Editors: Natasha Duquette (Editor-in-Chief)

Private Libraries

Living reference work entry


During the Romantic period, private libraries emerged in a twofold function with respect to women’s writing: as manifestations of traditions and power from which women had often been excluded, and as bourgeoning repositories of knowledge and conventions that invited emulating, appropriating, and undermining in order to make one’s marginalized voice heard. The Romantic period was also the age of “bibliomania” or “bibliophilia,” when book collecting reached new heights. The resultant growth of private libraries in number and size shaped the use of domestic space for both individual reading and the convivial exchange of ideas. Consequently, the history of women’s engagement with private libraries is reflected in fiction and historical sources alike, from Jane Austen’s depiction of Darcy’s private library in Pride and Prejudiceagainst the backdrop of Austen’s personal use of her family’s collection, to Charlotte Smith’s and Susan Ferrier’s contrasting notions of private...


Private libraries Book collecting Reading practices Tradition and subjectivity Authorship 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Susanne Schmid
    • 1
  1. 1.Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany