London: Hurst & Blackett, 1863. First Edition. Bound in 3/4 morocco over marbled boards by Tout & Sons, with gilt to spine, boards, and top edge. Marbled endpapers; some light foxing to preliminaries of each volume. Collates complete: (Vol I) iv, 331; (Vol II) iv, 353, with publisher's adverts to rear. Overall an exceptionally pleasing copy of this rare feminist work, which has appeared twice in the auction record, in 1978 and 1958.
Written as a companion piece to French Women of Letters, Kavanagh's English Women of Letters became an influential reference guide for literary scholars. Rather than focus broadly on women's historical accomplishments, as her predecessor Mary Hays did, Kavanagh narrowly honed the focus of her female biography. "My object is, namely, to show how far, for the last two centuries and more, women have contributed to the formation of the modern novel in the great literatures of modern times." By considering writers from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen to Amelia Opie, Kavanagh encouraged readers to see how women influenced the novel's form from its inception. She further urged them to consider how women continued shaping the literary canon through their ongoing engagement with the form. An exceptionally important work in the feminist canon.
Feminist Companion to Literature 598. Near Fine (Item #2331)