Posted by P. Bingham on March 18, 1998 at 21:10:08:
In response to But....., written by Clare on March 18, 1998 at 17:31:03
This turned out to be a long one...sorry!
I should note that I was writing in response to Cheryl's post. I think you might be getting me confused with answering your's. I offered this information only because it had something to do with the subject of women publishing books, I did not mean to suggest that it had a direct relation to her question. Although this information does deal directly with Women of Jane's time, and Jane in particular.
Also, you might ask yourself why her father felt compelled to make contact with a publisher without Jane's knowledge (if this is indeed a fact). Or perhaps Jane having nothing to do with his choice is not necessarily an issue. Jane being a woman does have something to do with this. So, even in this case, while the relation is no direct, it is surely indirect.
Unmarried women during this period lived under their father's authority (my book notes that is was not until 1965 that married women were even legally permitted to publish a book or engage in any profession without the consent of their husbands - I think there must be a missprint, could they have meant 1865? In any case, married women at this period could not own property or sign contracts) and usually father's (like Frances Burney's) disapproved of their daughter' risking their modesty, their reputations and possibly even their marriageability by publishing. It was for this reason that women usually published anonymously the first time, at least until they had settled an excellent reputation for themselves (as was the case for Sarah Fielding, Frances Burney and Ann Radcliff).
Jane's father was definately in the minority when he tried to help her publish her books, her First Impressions included.
Also, it was interesting to note that writing for profit was also quite looked down upon, and was even more disreputable than writing for fame. Henry Austen took some care to assert that at first "Jane hoped for neither fame nor profit." Men actively discouraged the competition from women writers, especially men writers and even publishers. Women were attacked for having the temerity to write without having the necessary learning and taste. Only women with a desperate financial need, like in order to support aging parents, a sick husband or desitute children, could be excused for publishing to obtain profit. women's prefaces often actually apologized for their writing which alluded to this. Even though Charlotte Smith began writing to support herself and her children after her husband was imprisoned for debt, her book Desmond was signed by Benjamin Smith who was at the time residing in Scotland under an alias. Ann Radcliff's The Romance of the Forest lists William Radcliff, her husband, as the author and it was he who recieved 40 pounds for the second edition.
Jane must have had this to deal with when she was a blossoming writer. Also, consider her young age at the time of these early writings. While her father clearly was proud of her writing, he being an enlightened man, he might not have even taken her publishing abilities seriously. He might have just automatically taken it to a publisher, being her father. As far as Jane, however, she had many published writers (and all reviewed by major review journals) in her family, many of them women, to be inspired by.
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