Following on from Julie Peakman’s new biography of the Georgian courtesan Peg Plunkett, WSG would also like to highlight WSG member (and WSG’s chief Twitterer) Sara Read’s new book Maids, Wives and Widows: Exploring Early Modern Women’s Lives 1540-1740, which came out in May. It is available from Pen & Sword books, and for a limited time is only £15.99 (rrp £19.99). Maids, Wives and Widows explores the everyday lives of early modern women, from menstruation, childbirth, and bodily care, to employment, literature, and food and drink.
Last month long-term WSG member Jane Mears, a former teacher and a PhD student at King’s College London, died after a long and quietly fought battle with cancer. WSG members Angela Escott and Elizabeth Eger attended Jane’s funeral at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Hayes, Middlesex, on behalf of all members of the group. It was a very moving occasion and Angela and Elizabeth met many of Jane’s friends.
Jane was a regular attendee of WSG seminars in London. She never allowed her illness to get in the way of a good conversation and her curiosity and warmth will be much missed. Jane was studying the family of the radical William Cobbett (1763-1835), especially his wife Anne, about whom not nearly enough is known. She had conducted extensive archive work and it is hoped that her research will be published in some form, especially the article she was working on before her death.
Long-time WSG member Julie Peakman’s latest book is out this month! Peg Plunkett: Memoirs of a Whore is published by Quercus and is available from all good bookshops and online for £20. Peg tells the story of one of the Georgian era’s most famous courtesans, based on her memoirs which caused a scandal when published in 1795, and Julie’s own extensive research.
Julie is a well-known historian of eighteenth-century culture and an expert in the history of sexuality. An Honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London, her previous books Lascivious Bodies (2004) and The Pleasure’s All Mine (2013), have both been critical and popular successes.
WSG member Miriam Al Jamil has written a round-up of our recent Annual Workshop, this year titled What is the place of Aphra Behn in Restoration Culture, at which Professor Elaine Hobby and Claire Bowditch gave a keynote talk on this important playwright, translator, and spy for Charles II…
“The annual workshop this year had Aphra Behn as its theme, and her significance was amply demonstrated by the variety of presentations made by attendees.
Elaine Hobby began the day by introducing the 8-volume Cambridge Edition of the Writings of Aphra Behn which is currently in progress. She pointed out the huge advances made in Behn scholarship since Janet Todd’s edition of the 1990s, highlighting the recent interest in attribution and translation studies. Assisted by Claire Bowditch, we explored possible literary and cultural allusions in example texts such as The False Count(1681). Comparisons of printed editions of Behn’s work prompted questions about authorial interventions and their motivations, and the practicalities of corrections made by printers. Elaine outlined the advantages which computerised textual analysis can offer debate concerning attribution, so that forms of expression can be collated to clarify any judgement. Her insights into the complexities of editing such a large and varied literary production were intriguing and much appreciated.
The variety of connections that can be found in Behn’s work was reflected in the topics covered in the presentations in the afternoon. We considered the participation of women in the creation of the Mostyn Library and the objectification of book and women alike in the correspondence of Thomas Mostyn; the achievements of significant female publishers such as Mrs. S.C. Hall; Lady Anne Halkett’s MS autobiography; along with issues such as the bitter rivalry between Delarivier Manley and Richard Steele. We learned that Behn like Anne Finch was from the Wye area in Kent, and we read Finch’s poem referencing her sister poet. We heard about the difficulties of finding details about the dances which were part of Restoration plays.
If the discussions of the day are any indication, there is a wealth of interest in Behn and the women writers who succeeded her, so there is great cause for optimism and anticipation of new discoveries to come.”
Thanks to the organisers and all the contributors to the workshop for making this year’s event such a success, and to Miriam for taking the time to give us her thoughts.
>>> Update: June 11. Our call for papers is now closed. We are delighted to have filled the programme so quickly and would like to thank everyone who got in touch. We hope you can join us at one of our sessions.
Interested in giving a paper to the WSG? Now’s the time to get in touch!
For the 2015-2016 series, the group will be meeting at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ.
Papers can be any length up to 35 minutes, and can be formal or informal, or even work in progress. The papers are followed by very supportive and informal discussion by members present. Men and women are invited to become members of our group and to give papers.
The topics can be anything related to any aspect of women’s studies: not only women writers, but any activity of a woman or women in the period of our concern, or anything that affects or is affected by women in this time period, such as the law, religion, etc. Male writers writing about women or male historical figures who have a bearing on the condition of women in this period are also a potential topic.
All meetings are on Saturdays: in the 2015-2016 sessions, the dates are as follows:
Saturday 26th September, 2015
Saturday 28th November, 2015
Saturday 30th January, 2016
The room will be booked for 1.00 – 6.00 pm, to give us time to make preparations and clear away afterwards, but we expect sessions to run from 2.00 – 5.00pm. We should like to start each session promptly at 2 p.m., so arrive a little early if you can. Time has been allowed for general discussion at the end.
Additional information: Since it was established in the early 1980s, the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 has enabled those interested in women’s and gender studies to keep in touch with each other, to hear about members’ interests and relevant publications, and to organise regular meetings and an annual workshop where members can meet and discuss women’s studies topics. We can also offer advice and opportunities to engage in activities that increase opportunities for publication, or enhance professional profiles in other ways.
WSG membership is open to men and women, graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars: please take a look around our website for more information.