Not Just Jane

Not Just Jane

Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature

Book - 2016 | First edition
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Baker & Taylor
"Keynote Jane Austen and the Brontèes endure as the leading ladies of English literature, but why are these reclusive parsons' daughters the only ones we remember? Funny and fascinating, Shelley DeWees's nonfiction debut, Not Just Jane, revisits British history through the extraordinary lives and work of seven long-forgotten authoresses--and wonders why they, and so many others, faded into obscurity (and what we are missing because of it)"--


“Not Just Jane restores seven of England’s most fascinating and subversive literary voices to their rightful places in history. Shelley DeWees tells each woman writer’s story with wit, passion, and an astute understanding of the society in which she lived and wrote.

Dr. Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

Jane Austen and the Brontës endure as British literature’s leading ladies (and for good reason)—but were these reclusive parsons’ daughters really the only writing women of their day? A feminist history of literary Britain, this witty, fascinating nonfiction debut explores the extraordinary lives and work of seven long-forgotten authoresses, and asks: Why did their considerable fame and influence, and a vibrant culture of female creativity, fade away? And what are we missing because of it?

You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel (or at least seen a film one). Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add George Eliot or Virginia Woolf to this list…but then the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late 18th and 19th century Britain?

In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. As the country, and women’s roles within it, evolved, so did the publishing industry, driving legions of ladies to pick up their pens and hit the parchment. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women, among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel, DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate, and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life—and the literary landscape—during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women, who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.

Rediscover Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

& Taylor

Weaving together history, biography and critical analysis, a vastly entertaining volume focuses on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven long-forgotten woman authors, including Charlotte Turner Smith and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and realizes why, now more than ever, that itÆs vital we remember. Original. 25,000 first printing.
Explores the works and lives of seven women authors from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to reveal the female life and the literary landscape of the era.

Publisher: New York : Harper Perennial, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062394620
Branch Call Number: 820.9928 DEWEES
Characteristics: 320 pages ; 21 cm


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Dec 31, 2016

This book offers mini biographies on 7 different women who were all respected and successful authors in the 1800's and who have since, disappeared into history. Each of the women's profiles were interesting unto themselves but the book overall presented a great snapshot of the life and times of Victorian England. I found it very interesting and readable.

Dec 09, 2016

Not Just Jane is at its weakest when it tries to explain why they are not remembered, but shines when the women themselves step to the forefront. DeWees ably highlights the gaps in our knowledge as she advocates for an expansion of the canon.

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Dec 04, 2016

Thanks to DeWees, I finally started reading my personal copy of John Halifax, gentleman.


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Dec 09, 2016

Everyone has heard of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, perhaps the most famous women writers in British literature. All have been the subject of film and television adaptations, and Jane Austen will grace the new £10 bank note being released in Britain in 2017. But do you know Sara Coleridge (yes, she is related to Samuel Taylor) or Catherine Crowe? Perhaps you’ve heard of King George IV’s scandalous mistress, the actress Mary Robinson, but didn’t realize she was also a writer? Shelley DeWees selects seven British women writers of the Romantic and Victorian periods who were at least as famous as Austen and the Brontës during their lifetimes, if not more so, and often outsold them. Not Just Jane shines a light on their less-remembered works, while also showing the difficulties women faced in becoming writers, and the censure they faced when they succeeded.


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Dec 09, 2016

Of all the wonderful things I experienced during this journey, the best occurred at the end, as I stood in front of a bookshelf full of new titles, each of which introduced me to new women, new worlds, new windows into British history.


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