In My Mailbox ~ ‘The Female Spectator’

I am always thrilled to find in my mailbox the latest issue [Vol. 13, No. 1, Winter 2009] of The Female Spectator, the newsletter of the Chawton House Library. 

The first article by Helen Cole, a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton, is on “The  Minerva Press and the Illustrations of the Late Eighteenth-Century Novel” – Cole is researching the Minerva Press novels of the 1790s, regarded by many as “historically interesting but of minimal literary value”, yet often illustrated with engravings that had little to do with the narrative, or enhanced with an engraved bookplate, or rebound in fine bindings, thus proving that at the time these books were likely considered valuable to the owner.  The bound-in engravings were not consistently present,  leading one to question on what basis the publisher made these binding decisions.  Cole’s research has been made all the easier since the availability of the Eighteenth Century Collections Online[ECCO]* which allows access to many little-known 18th-century novels. [*note that this source is accessible only to subscribing institutions]

A second article, ” ‘A Chawton Experience’ : Women and Education in the Gentleman’s Magazine and the Anti-Jacobin (1797-1799)” by Helen Loader, a PhD candidate at the University of Winchester, summarizes her research into the reviews in these two journals of works written by or about women, and the often prevailing male view of the lack of education among women writers and the dangers of reading such novels.  Ms. Loader cites to two sources that are available online: 

Emily Lorraine de Montluzin “Attributions of Authorship in the Gentleman’s Magazine 1731-1868: an Electronic Union List, University of Virginia –

and Mary Darby Robinson, A Letter to the Women of England on the Injustice of Mental Subordination (1799) at

[this text, part of the University of Maryland’s Romantic Circles database also includes various other related resources]

Other news from the Library:

  • A new acquisition:  a small collection of manuscript family recipe books dating from the 18th and early 19th centuries belonging to three inter-related families.
  • Information on the forthcoming conference, “New Directions in Austen Studies”, July 9-11, 2009, celebrating Austen’s move to Chawton in 1809.
  • Application information for the Chawton House Library visiting fellowships – there are now four scholars in residence positions and applications are due by May 30, 2009.

For more information on the Library, the Conference, the Fellowships and other events, see the Library website .

For information on becoming a member of the Library, click here.  It is worth every penny so you too can find this newsletter in YOUR mailbox!



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