A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx


A Jury of Her Peers is an unprecedented literary landmark: the first comprehensive history of American women writers from 1650 to 2000.

In a narrative of immense scope and fascination—brimming with Elaine Showalter’s characteristic wit and incisive opinions—we are introduced to more than 250 female writers. These include not only famous and expected names (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather, Dorothy Parker, Flannery O’Connor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Grace Paley, Toni Morrison, and ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (41) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $1.99   
  • Used (36) from $1.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 3 of 5
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
Seller since 2006

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

BRAND NEW 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase benefits world literacy!

Ships from: Mishawaka, IN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
2009 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. 608 p.

Ships from: Sylmar, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
2009 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New. First Edition., second printing. D/j is slightly worn along edges. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. ... 608 p. Audience: General/trade. In a narrative of immense scope and fascination--spanning nearly 400 years and brimming with Showalter's characteristic wit and incisive opinions--readers are introduced to more than 250 female writers, both famous and little known. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Arlington, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 3 of 5
Sort by
Sending request ...


A Jury of Her Peers is an unprecedented literary landmark: the first comprehensive history of American women writers from 1650 to 2000.

In a narrative of immense scope and fascination—brimming with Elaine Showalter’s characteristic wit and incisive opinions—we are introduced to more than 250 female writers. These include not only famous and expected names (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather, Dorothy Parker, Flannery O’Connor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Grace Paley, Toni Morrison, and Jodi Picoult among them), but also many who were once successful and acclaimed yet now are little known, from the early American best-selling novelist Catherine Sedgwick to the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Susan Glaspell. Showalter shows how these writers—both the enduring stars and the ones left behind by the canon—were connected to one another and to their times. She believes it is high time to fully integrate the contributions of women into our American literary heritage, and she undertakes the task with brilliance and flair, making the case for the unfairly overlooked and putting the overrated firmly in their place.

Whether or not readers agree with the book’s roster of writers, A Jury of Her Peers is an irresistible invitation to join the debate, to discover long-lost great writers, and to return to familiar titles with a deeper appreciation. It is a monumental work that will greatly enrich our understanding of American literary history and culture.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Katie Roiphe
…this comprehensive record of American women's attempts at literary achievement holds its own fascination; the small, vivid portraits of women's lives are extremely readable and enlightening…A Jury of Her Peers is likely to become an important and valuable resource for anyone interested in women's history. It outlines the rich and colorful history of women struggling to publish and define themselves, and the complex and tangled tradition of women's writing in this country.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

By covering the lives and careers of hundreds of American women writers of all backgrounds, this survey is ambitious and galvanizing, contributing to feminist theory without itself reading like theory. Diverse beyond easy description, these women, especially in earlier centuries, have two things in common. One is an almost universal break with patriarchal constructs. Second is gaining independence from European literary models, female as well as male. Although there have been multivolume, encyclopedic works of greater scope, like Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's Norton Anthology of Literature by Woman, this is the first guide and history ever attempted by one scholar working solo. With a generally chronological approach (including a handful of sensible deviations), Showalter's Baedeker showcases the rise and fall of styles and genres. Lives and careers of superstars such as Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Pearl S. Buck and Toni Morrison are put into high relief. In Showalter's book, the voices of several hundred other authors, ranging from Phillis Wheatley and Julia Ward Howe to Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Grace Metalious and James Tiptree Jr., sing out in a monumental choral orchestrated by Showalter (A Literature of Their Own), a groundbreaking feminist scholar at Princeton. (Feb. 25)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Women have been writing and publishing since the beginning of the American experience. But as Showalter argues convincingly in her substantial literary history of American women writers from 1650 to 2000, their contributions have been largely overlooked and underrated by the men who controlled "scholarly editorial boards, panels of consultants, and academic leadership posts." Each of the 20 chapters begins with the historical context of the period and an assessment of "women's relation to the literary marketplace" during that time. Within each chapter, Showalter (A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing) supplies biographical details and an assessment of the work of the writers she has identified as important. One of Showalter's judgments is that "[Harriet Beecher Stowe's] achievements and her wide influence make her the most important figure in the history of American women's writing." She also argues that Emily Dickinson "reinvented American poetry." Showalter's writing is clear, lively, and authoritative; her research is impressive. Recommended for academic and public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/08.]
—Kathryn R. Bartelt

The Barnes & Noble Review
Elaine Showalter's A Jury of Her Peers covers the writings of American women from Anne Bradstreet, who published The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America in 1650, to Annie Proulx, as she reinvents the western for the 21st century. It's a delicious compendium, a book that belongs in literature courses, of course, but also in writerly libraries and in the hands of anyone who enjoys reading about writers' lives.

Showalter covers more than 250 women writers in 20 chapters. Along with the iconic authors (Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Flannery O'Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, and Marilynne Robinson among them) she includes vital lesser-knowns, such as Susan Glaspell, whose 1917 short story gives this volume its name and its theme. (In this tale, a staple of contemporary literature textbooks, a farm woman accused of murdering her husband is acquitted when the local women, who are not yet citizens and thus can't join the men on the jury, recognize the domestic signs of her mental distress and devise ways to help her.)

Not surprisingly, Showalter often underscores her pioneering 1978 scholarly work (A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing) by offering a contextual counterpoint to the traditional (male) literary canon. She highlights, in one example, a raft of literary masterworks from the 1850s -- Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (the most widely read American novel of the century); Hannah Gardner Creamer's Delia's Doctors; or, A Glance Behind the Scenes, the first novel to support women's right to vote; and Julia Ward Howe's "frank and disturbing" poetry collection Passion-Flowers (and most of us only know about her "Battle Hymn of the Republic"). She offers the set as a female parallel to the contemporaneous publication of widely recognized classics by male authors during the same decade, including Emerson's Representative Men, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Melville's Moby-Dick, Thoreau's Walden, and Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

During this first flowering of American women's writing, Showalter notes, there was a flood of bestsellers written by women in the 1850s, establishing a benchmark for American literature. A mass market for fiction -- and a fascination with women's domestic lives, including their secret yearnings -- emerged. Susan Warner's domestic drama The Wide Wide World sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, and Maria Cummins's "run-of-the-mill" novel, The Lamplighter, sold 70,000 copies the first year. An envious Hawthorne wrote to his publisher that "he was thinking of giving up fiction in light of Cummins's fortune." Hawthorne wrote, "America is now wholly given over to a d____d mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash..."

By the late 1850s, influenced by Stowe (and the execution of radical abolitionist John Brown), black women writers had begun writing innovative autobiographical novels modeled in part on slave narratives, including Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, originally published in 1861 under the pseudonym "Linda Brent," with abolitionist Lydia Maria Child credited as "editor." The book was little noted at the time; it was more than a century (1971) before a feminist scholar, Jean Fagan Yellin, identified the book's author, Harriet Jacobs, and tracked down her story. Louisa May Alcott's 1868 Little Women marked another, even more visible turning point in American women's writing. It was the first American novel to rival Jane Eyre in its appeal to women readers in England and the rest of the world. Showalter notes that Alcott's take on the battle between "selfless femininity and artistic creativity is the reason many feminist critics have called it the story of Alcott's personal Civil War." Alcott's tomboyish Jo March, a professional writer of genre fiction, influenced female intellectuals and artists decades later (Gertrude Stein and Simone de Beauvoir among them). By the early 1870s, Alcott had allied with the American Woman Suffrage Association and concluded that marriage and writing were incompatible. "I'd rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe," she told a friend. "I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul, put by some freak of nature into a woman's body." Showalter's survey of the 19th century would not be complete without feminist utopias (Eveleen Mason's household of the future, envisioned in her little-remembered 1889 novel, Heiro-Salem, would be "egalitarian and free of racial, religious, regional, class, and sexual prejudice") and dystopias (Charlotte Perkins Gilman's widely read autobiographical short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," described a common "rest cure" for female depression and neurasthenia).

Moving into the 20th century, Showalter devotes a lengthy chapter to Wharton and Cather on the basis of their literary achievement and historical range. "They were great novelists whose careers spanned a long period from the 1890s to the 1940s; both won the Pulitzer Prize in the 1920s," she writes. Ironically, both "refused to be defined as women at all.". Showalter suggests this marks a new stage in development: "For any literary subculture...aesthetic maturity requires a rejection of special categories, and an insistence on access to any subject, any character, any style. Paradoxically, American women's writing could not fully mature until there were women writing against it."

In her section on the 1940s, Showalter parses the appeal of Kathleen Winsor's scandalous blockbuster Forever Amber, about a "headstrong, beautiful, resilient" English country girl with "a kind of warm luxuriance...suggestive of pleasurable fulfillment," who becomes one of Charles II's mistresses. She also notes that the push to lure women back to the home after World War II led to such travesties as a 1949 Ladies' Home Journal story about Edna St. Vincent Millay called "Poet's Kitchen," pointing out to readers that if housework was not beneath a great poet, they should put their own dissatisfactions to rest. "Since Millay...by then was subsisting on wine, morphine Seconal, and liver extract, prepared by her nurse, this propaganda piece seems particularly ghoulish and fake," writes Showalter. Further on, the poets Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath are invoked as tragic symbols of the housebound 1950s.

Showalter acknowledges the 1985 publication of the groundbreaking 2,500-page Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Tradition in English, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, as a reframing event that "transformed the teaching of literature at all levels, and raised fundamental questions about the history of women's writing..." The doors were open for experimentation and transcendence of prior limitations. The creative outpouring by America's women writers in the last quarter of the twentieth century included a postmodern "even celebratory literature of generational change and cultural interaction," emerging from groundbreaking work by Julia Alvarez, Jhumpa Lahiri, Min Jin Lee, Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Gish Jen, and others.

Showalter posits the 1990s as a fourth stage for American women writers: after feminine, feminist, and female writing, they were free. A Jury of Her Peers ends the century that began with two Pulitzer winners, Wharton and Cather, with latter-day Pulitzer awardees Annie Proulx and Jane Smiley. Smiley wrote in a 1996 essay in Harper's, "the canonization of a very narrow range of white, Protestant, middle-class male authors...has misrepresented our literary life,"and opted for Harriet Beecher Stowe over Mark Twain. Smiley followed her award-winning King Lear-on-the-prairie, A Thousand Acres, with a vividly rendered novel set in 1855, The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. Its heroine was a Huck Finn–Harriet Beecher Stowe hybrid.

Proulx, who got her start writing about hunting and fishing for men's magazines, started writing postmodern westerns in 1995. She took a distinctly antiheroic stance, with subject matter ranging from the relationship between two cowboys, memorialized in her short story "Brokeback Mountain," to tales of rodeos to the harsh lives of female homesteaders in the Wyoming territory.

Both Smiley and Proulx, Showalter writes, "developed as writers beyond gender and genre." Or, as Proulx put it, "Writers can write about anything they want, any sex they want, any place they want." This new freedom coexists with chick-lit and other retro forms. And who knows what will come next? Showalter will need to be on the alert for new voices to add to new editions of this essential literary volume. --Jane Ciabattari

Jane Ciabattari is president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400041237
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Elaine Showalter, a professor emerita at Princeton University, is the author of numerous books, including the groundbreaking A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing. A frequent radio and TV commentator in the United Kingdom, she has chaired the Man Booker International prize jury and judged the National Book Awards and the Orange Prize. She divides her time between Washington, D.C., and London.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


A New Literature Springs Up in the New World

From the very beginning, women were creating the new words of the New World. The first women writers in America, Anne Bradstreet (1612–1672) and Mary Rowlandson (1637–1711), were born in England and endured the harrowing three-month voyage of storm, seasickness, and starvation across the North Atlantic. In Massachusetts, where they settled, they led lives of extraordinary danger and deprivation. Both married and had children; they thought of themselves primarily as good wives and mothers. Both made the glory of God their justification for writing, but they prefigured themes and concerns that would preoccupy American women writers for the next 150 years and more—Bradstreet, the poet, writing about the intimacies and agonies of domestic life, including pregnancy and maternity, the death of three of her grandchildren, and the destruction of her home by fire; and Rowlandson, writing a narrative of her captivity by Narragansett Indians, and pioneering the great American theme of interracial experience in the encounter with Native American culture.

Both Bradstreet and Rowlandson entered print shielded by the authorization, legitimization, and testimony of men. In Bradstreet’s case, no fewer than eleven men wrote testimonials and poems praising her piety and industry, prefatory materials almost as long as the thirteen poems in the book. In his introductory letter, John Woodbridge, her brother-in-law, stood guarantee that Bradstreet herself had written the poems, that she had not initiated their publication, and that she had neglected no housekeeping chore in their making: “these Poems are the fruit but of some few houres, curtailed from her sleep and other refreshments.” Rowlandson’s narrative too came with “a preface to the reader” signed “Per Amicum” (“By a Friend”), probably the minister Increase Mather, which explained that although the work had been “penned by this Gentlewoman,” she had written it as a “Memorandum of Gods dealing with her,” and it was a “pious scope, which deserves both commendation and imitation.” The author had not sought publication of her narrative out of vanity; rather,

some Friends having obtained a sight of it, could not but be so much affected with the many passages of working providence discovered therein, as to judge it worthy of publick view, and altogether unmeet that such works of God should be hid from present and future Generation: and therefore though this Gentlewoman’s modesty would not thrust it into the Press, yet her gratitude to God, made her not hardly perswadable to let it pass, that God might have his due glory, and others benefit by it as well as her selfe.

Having given a lengthy defense of the virtues of the book, the Friend concluded with the hope that “none will cast any reflection upon this Gentlewoman, on the score of this publication,” and warned that any who did “may be reckoned with the nine Lepers,” symbols of ingratitude. Apparently no one dared come forward to complain about Rowlandson after this endorsement.

We know that New England Puritans in the seventeenth century believed that men were intellectually superior to women, and that God had designed it so. They were notoriously unsympathetic to women who defied God’s plan for the sexes by conspicuous learning or reading, and they could be hostile to women who went outside their sphere by preaching or writing. The most official expression of this hostility was the trial of Anne Hutchinson in 1637. Hutchinson belonged to a dissident sect, but she had also been leading her own discussion groups for women. Tried for “traducing the ministers” and for blasphemy while she was pregnant with her fifteenth child, Hutchinson was excommunicated and forced to leave the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with her husband and children. The entire Hutchinson family, with the exception of one daughter, were killed by Indians in 1643. In 1645, when Ann Yale Hopkins, the wife of Governor Edward Hopkins of Hartford, became insane, John Winthrop blamed her “giving herself wholly to reading and writing,” rather than the hardships of colonial life, for her breakdown. “If she had attended to her household affairs, and such things as belong to women, and not gone out of her way and calling to meddle such things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger . . . she had kept her wits.”

Despite these instances, the shared hardships of life in the New World gave women an existential equality with men that allowed Bradstreet and Rowlandson self-expression. Both men and women shared cold and hunger, faced disease and death, and risked captivity and massacre. Almost two hundred members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony died during the first year. Women had to do the hard physical labor of cooking, baking, cleaning, dairying, spinning, weaving, sewing, washing, and ironing. They endured the dangers of childbirth in the wilderness, nursed babies, and often buried them. While in strict religious terms “goodwives” were not supposed to trespass on the masculine sphere of literary expression, in reality there was more flexibility and tolerance. As two of her modern editors observe, “Bradstreet was not censured, disciplined, or in any way ostracized for her art, thought, or personal assertiveness, so far as we know. Rather, she was praised and encouraged; and there are no indications that the males in her life treated her as ‘property.’ If anything, she was treated as at least an intellectual equal.”1

A Poet Crowned with Parsley—Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet’s The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (1650) was the first book by a woman living in America, although it was actually published in London and entered in the Stationers’ Register. Bradstreet wrote with both an awareness of her gender, and a sense of rootedness in New England Puritan culture. Adrienne Rich has paid tribute to her achievement and summed up her inspiring example for future American women poets:

Anne Bradstreet happened to be one of the first American women inhabiting a time and place in which heroism was a necessity of life, and men and women were fighting for survival both as individuals and as a community. To find room in that life for any mental activity . . . was an act of great self-assertion and vitality. To have written poems . . . while rearing eight children, lying frequently sick, keeping house at the edge of the wilderness, was to have managed a poet’s range and extension within confines as severe as any American poet has confronted.2

But Bradstreet was much more than a heroic female survivor who courageously managed to compose poetry in her spare time. She was also a strong, original poet whose work can be read today with enjoyment and emotion, a woman who wrote great poems expressing timeless themes of love, loss, doubt, and faith. Despite her strict Puritan beliefs, she had wit and a sense of humor. And while she dutifully imitated the prevailing models of male poetic excellence, from Sir Philip Sidney to the French Protestant poet Guillaume Du Bartas (whose huge unfinished epic of the Creation was among the Puritans’ most revered texts), she also explored some of the most central issues for the development of American women’s writing—how to make domestic topics worthy of serious literature, and how to use strong and memorable language without ceasing to be womanly.

We don’t know all the facts of Anne Bradstreet’s life, but what we do know suggests that growing up in England she began to think of herself as a poet from an early age. While her brother went to Cambridge, she was tutored in Greek, Latin, French, and Hebrew by her father, Thomas Dudley, the steward to the Earl of Lincoln, and had access to the earl’s large library. She had begun to compose her own poems by the time she was sixteen, when she married twenty-five-year-old Simon Bradstreet, a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who had assisted her father in his stewardship. The marriage was a love match, and indeed Bradstreet would dedicate to Simon one of the most beautiful poems a woman ever wrote about her husband.

In early April of 1630, the Bradstreets and the Dudleys were among the Puritan members of the New England Company who embarked on a three-month voyage to America on the Arbella, the flagship of a little fleet of four vessels. Another passenger, John Winthrop, who would become the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, preached a famous sermon to the pilgrims aboard, declaring that God was supporting their expedition, and that their settlement would be like “a Citty upon a Hill,” with the “eyes of all people” upon them. But when they arrived in Salem on June 12, 1630, they discovered that disease and starvation had decimated the small Bay Colony, and many among their own numbers died in the first weeks. The Salem settlers had been living in caves, huts, and wigwams, and had not even been able to plant crops. For the next few years the pioneers battled to survive, eating clams, mussels, nuts, and acorns; building shelters; and facing cold, hunger, and illness as well as anxiety and homesickness.

Both Bradstreet’s father and her husband served as governors of the struggling colony. For the difficult first five years of their marriage, Anne was unable to have a child. In her journal she confessed: “It pleased God to keep me a long time without a child, which was a great grief to me, and cost me many prayers and tears before I obtaind one, and after him gave me many more.” She also became ill and was bedridden for several months in 1632 with fever and coughing. When she recovered, she wrote her first poem, “Upon a Fit of Sickness,” thanking God for his mercy in sparing her life. And the following year, she gave birth to her first son, Samuel.

Anne Hutchinson came to New England in 1634, and Bradstreet witnessed the events of her rise and fall. But as Charlotte Gordon points out, “ironically, Mistress Hutchinson’s downfall ushered in the most fertile decade of Anne Bradstreet’s life—fertile in every sense of the word.” Already the mother of a son and a daughter, Bradstreet gave birth to five more children during these years. From 1638 to 1648, she also “wrote more than six thousand lines of poetry, more than almost any other English writer on either side of the Atlantic composed in an entire lifetime. For most of this time, she was either pregnant, recovering from childbirth, or nursing an infant, establishing herself as a woman blessed by God, the highest commendation a New England Puritan mother could receive.”3

The poems Bradstreet was writing were intellectual and scholarly, formally influenced by English and European masters. But she was aroused and provoked by the great political events taking place in England in the 1640s, particularly the English Civil War, which led to the execution of Charles I. Five thousand of the six thousand lines of poetry she composed during the decade came from her long poem in heroic couplets, “The Four Monarchies,” in which she chronicled the pre-Christian empires of Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome, examining the legitimacy of kings and emperors. These were not the standard subjects of pious women’s verse, and in a “Prologue” to her poems, Bradstreet protected herself from criticism by insisting that she was a modest woman who had no intention of competing with male epic poets:

To sing of wars, of captains, and of kings,
Of cities founded, commonwealths begun,
For my mean pen are too superior things . . .
Let poets and historians set these forth,
My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth.

Like English women poets of her time, such as Anne Finch and Anne Killigrew, she emphasized her inferiority and temerity in writing at all, calling her Muse “foolish, broken, blemished.” While men rightly contended for fame and precedence, Bradstreet flatteringly claimed, she was content with her humble domestic niche, and her poems would make those of her male contemporaries look even more impressive:

If e’er you deign these lowly lines your eyes,
Give thyme or Parsley wreath, I ask no Bayes.
This mean and unrefined ore of mine
Will make your glist’ring gold but more to shine.

Instead of striving for the bay or laurel wreath, she asked only for a wreath of parsley and thyme, kitchen herbs rather than Parnassian prizes. Bradstreet was the Poet Parsleyate, the woman poet whose domestic work enabled the leisured creativity of men; but her imagery of the humble kitchen of Parnassus would be echoed in many heartfelt cries by the American women writers who came after her.

The humility of these lines, however, was balanced by her request for men to give women poets the space and the chance they deserved:

Men have precedency and still excel,
It is but vain unjustly to wage war;
Men can do best, and Women know it well.
Preeminence in all and each is yours;
Yet grant some small acknowledgment of ours.

In 1649, Bradstreet’s brother-in-law, the Reverend John Woodbridge, who was in England acting as a clerical adviser to the Puritan army, arranged to have her poems published by a bookseller in Popes Head Alley, London, under the title The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, or Severall Poems, compiled with great variety of Wit and Learning, full of delight. As the cover went on to explain, the book included “a complete discourse and description of the Four Elements, Constitutions, Ages of Man, Seasons of the Year” and “an Exact Epitome of the Four Monarchies . . . Also a Dialogue between Old England and New, concerning the late troubles, with divers other pleasant and serious Poems.” In his prefatory verse, “To my Dear Sister, the Author of These Poems,” he congratulated her on her achievements:

What you have done, the Sun shall witnesse bear,
That for a womans Worke ’tis very rare;
And if the Nine vouchsafe the Tenth a place,
I think they rightly may yield you that grace.

In England, The Tenth Muse was well received as evidence of the genius of the woman of the New World, and became one of the “most vendible,” or best-selling, books of the period, at the top of the list with Shakespeare and Milton. In New England, it was widely read and esteemed.4

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


1. A New Literature Springs Up in the New World
2. Revolution: Women’s Rights and Women’s Writing
3. Their Native Land
4. Finding a Form
5. Masterpieces and Mass Markets
6. Slavery, Race, and Women’s Writing
7. The Civil War
8. The Coming Woman
9. American Sibyls
10. New Women
11. The Golden Morrow
12. Against Women’s Writing: Wharton and Cather
13. You Might as Well Live
14. The Great Depression
15. The 1940s: World War II and After
16. The 1950s: Three Faces of Eve
17. The 1960s: Live or Die
18. The 1970s: The Will to Change
19. The 1980s: On the Jury
20. The 1990s: Anything She Wants

Acknowledgments Notes Index

Writers Discussed in the Book

Susan Glaspell Lydia Maria Child Catherine Fenimore Woolson Mary Austin Zona Gale Elizabeth Roberts Julia Ward Howe Pauline Hopkins Nella Larsen Emily Dickinson Harriet Beecher Stowe Gwendolyn Brooks Edith Wharton Willa Cather

Chapter 1: The 1600s
Anne Bradstreet Mary Rowlandson

Chapter 2: The 1700s
Sarah Kemble Knight Jane Coleman Turell Elizabeth Magawley Phillis Wheatley Judith Sargent Murray Mercy Otis Warren Susanna Rowson Anna Steele Anna Young Smith Sarah Wentworth Morton Abigail Adams Sukey Vickery Hannah Webster Foster Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood Tabitha Tenney

Chapter 3: 1820s-1830s
Lydia Maria Child Sarah J. Hale Mary Griffin Catherine Maria Sedgwick Caroline Kirkland

Chapter 4: 1840s
Margaret Fuller Caroline May Alice Cary Frances Sargent Osgood Maria Gowen Brooks Elizabeth Oakes-Smith Lydia HuntleySigourney Anna Cora Mowatt Harriet Beecher Stowe Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Chapter 5: 1850s, Part I
Julia Ward Howe Harriet Beecher Stowe Miriam Berry Whicher Susan Warner Grace Greenwood Hannah Gardner Creamer Caroline Chesebro’
Anna Warner Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Caroline Hentz E.D.E.N. Southworth
“Fanny Fern” (Sarah Peyton Willis)
Laura Curtis Bullard Lillie Devereaux Blake Alice Cary H. Marion Stephenson Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune Augusta Jane Evans Harriet Prescott Spofford

Chapter 6: 1850s, Part II
Harriet Beecher Stowe Mary Eastman Caroline Hentz Frances Watkins Harper Lydia Maria Child Harriet Jacobs Harriet E. Wilson
“Hannah Crafts”

Chapter 7:
The Civil War
Harriet Beecher Stowe Lucy Larcom Caroline A. Mason Julia LeGrand Louisa May Alcott E.D.E.N. Southworth Augusta Jane Evans Rebecca Harding Davis Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard Emily Dickinson Mary Terhune Martha Finley Mary Abigail Dodge

Chapter 8: The 1870s
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Julia Ward Howe Harriet Beecher Stowe Gail Hamilton Alice Cary Marietta Holley Susan B. Anthony Lillie Devereaux Blake Sherwood Bonner

Chapter 9: The 1880s
Constance Fenimore Woolson Harriet Beecher Stowe Emma Lazarus Rose Terry Cooke Sarah Orne Jewett Willa Cather Mary E. Wilkins Freeman Mary Noailles Murfree Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson

Chapter 10: The 1890s
Charlotte Perkins Gilman Gertrude Atherton Kate Chopin Elizabeth Cady Stanton Louise Imogen Guiney Ella Wheeler Wilcox Elizabeth Robins Edith Wharton Frances Harper Pauline Hopkins Eveleen Mason Lois Waisbrooker Alice Ilgenfritz Jones Ella Merchant Eliza J. Nicholson Elizabeth Gilmer Julia Ward Howe Maud Howe Grace King Louisa May Alcott Alice Dunbar-Nelson Helen Hunt Jackson Mary Wilkins Freeman Ellen Glasgow Helen Gray Cone

Chapter 11: The 1900s
Margaret Fuller Mary Johnston Charlotte Perkins Gilman Francis Whiting Halsey Edith Wharton Gertrude Atherton Mary Hunter Austin Gertrude Stein Hilda Doolittle Marianne Moore Amy Lowell Mary Antin Gertrude Simmons Bonnin Edith Maud Easton Elizabeth Robins Rachel Crothers Susan Glaspell Kate Chopin Willa Cather Kate Douglas Wiggin Geneva Stratton-Porter Jean Webster Eleanor H. Porter

Chapter 12: The 1910s
Edith Wharton Willa Cather Margaret Fuller Harriet Beecher Stowe Kate Chopin

Chapter 13: The 1920s
Sylvia Plath Gwendolyn Brooks Josephine Herbst Ellen Glasgow Elizabeth Madox Roberts Edith Summers Kelley Edna St. Vincent Millay Gertrude Stein Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)
Elinor Wylie Amy Lowell Genevieve Taggard Dorothy Parker Louise Bogan Sara Teasdale Louisa May Alcott Genevieve Taggard Mina Loy Dorothy Dunbar Bromley Nella Larsen Josephine Herbst Katherine Anne Porter Sophie Treadwell Zoe Akins Zona Gale Dorothy Canfield Fisher Pearl Buck Willa Cather Anzia Yezierska Emily Dickinson Jessie Fauset Kate Chopin

Chapter 14: The 1930s
Meridel Le Sueur Susan Glaspell Willa Cather Emily Dickinson Fanny Hurst Katherine Anne Porter Zoe Akins Dorothy Parker Tess Slesinger Lillian Hellman Clare Boothe Pearl Buck Margaret Mitchell Edith Wharton Jessie Fauset Nella Larsen Margaret Walker Muriel Rukeyser Sara Teasdale Edna St. Vincent Millay Martha Gellhorn Josephine Herbst Tillie Olsen Louise Bogan Djuna Barnes Susan Sontag Harriet Sohmers Mary Wilkins Freeman Zora Neale Hurston

Chapter 15: The 1940s
Louise Bogan Jane Cooper Margaret Walker Gwendolyn Brooks Sylvia Plath Alice Bradley Sheldon Martha Gellhorn Hisaye Yamamoto Eudora Welty Carson McCullers Flannery O’Connor Katherine Anne Porter Agnes Smedley Jean Stafford Margaret Walker Harper Lee Ann Petry Dorothy West Sally Benson Ayn Rand Betty Smith Betty Macdonald Jessamyn West Laura Z. Hobson Kathleen Winsor Fay Kanin Edna St. Vincent Millay

Chapter 16: The 1950s
Carson McCullers Shirley Jackson Sylvia Plath Gwendolyn Brooks Flannery O’Connor Adrienne Rich Joyce Carol Oates Kathleen Norris Fannie Hurst Jessie Fauset Nella Larsen Harriette Simpson Arnow Mary McCarthy Jean Stafford Grace Metalious Leonie Adams Babette Deutsch Muriel Rukeyser May Swenson Mona Van Duyn Jean Garrigue Barbara Howe Anne Sexton Marianne Moore Louise Bogan Elizabeth Bishop Patricia Highsmith Ann Weldy Lorraine Hansberry

Chapter 17: The 1960s
Gwendolyn Brooks Anne Sexton Denise Levertov Muriel Rukeyser Harper Lee Katherine Anne Porter Mary McCarthy Louise Bogan Joyce Carol Oates S. E. Hinton Adrienne Rich Maxine Kumin Tillie Olsen Sara Teasdale Edna St. Vincent Millay Betty Friedan Sarah Orne Jewett Jean Stafford

Chapter 18: The 1970s
Adrienne Rich Michelle Cliff Kate Millet Robin Morgan Shulamith Firestone Toni Cade Bambara Charlotte Perkins Gilman Toni Morrison Erica Jong Nikki Giovanni Maya Angelou Audre Lord Ntozake Shange Alice Walker Zora Neale Hurston Nella Larsen Diane Johnson Gail Godwin Judith Rossner Lois Gould Joyce Carol Oates Dorothy Bryant Ursula LeGuin Joanna Russ Marge Piercy James Tiptree, Jr./ Alice Bradley Sheldon Willa Cather Vonda N. McIntyre Chelsea Quinn Yarboro Joanna Russ Grace Paley Maxine Hong Kingston Anne Tyler Joan Didion Susan Sontag Cynthia Ozick

Chapter 19: The 1980s
Sharon Olds Alice Walker Phillis Wheatley Joyce Carol Oates Elizabeth Bishop Cynthia Ozick Ursula LeGuin Beth Henley Marsha Norman Wendy Wasserstein Sara Paretsky Sue Grafton Patricia Cornwell Toni Morrison Louise Erdrich Alice Walker Marilynne Robinson Gloria Naylor Sandra Cisneros Amy Tan Amy Hempel Bharati Mukherjee Mary Robison Jayne Anne Phillips Ann Beattie Bobbie Ann Mason Gloria Naylor

Chapter 20: The 1990s
Toni Morrison Lynn Hejinian Marilyn Hacker Sharon Olds Louise Glück Anne Carson Jorie Graham Rita Dove Jodie Picoult Jennifer Weiner Terry McMillan Susannah Moore A. M. Homes Joyce Carol Oates Susan Sontag Susan Choi Wendy Wasserstein Joanne Dobson Gish Jen Jane Smiley Harriet Beecher Stowe Sena Jeter Naslund Annie Proulx Anne Bradstreet Mary Rowlandson

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)