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Romantic Women Writers, Revolution, and Prophecy
Rebellious Daughters, 1786–1826


Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107566736

£ 20.99

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About the Authors
  • Convinced that the end of the world was at hand, many Romantic women writers assumed the role of the female prophet to sound the alarm before the final curtain fell. Orianne Smith argues that their prophecies were performative acts in which the prophet believed herself to be authorized by God to bring about social or religious transformation through her words. Utilizing a wealth of archival material across a wide range of historical documents, including sermons, prophecies, letters and diaries, Orianne Smith explores the work of prominent women writers - from Hester Piozzi to Ann Radcliffe, from Helen Maria Williams to Anna Barbauld and Mary Shelley - through the lens of their prophetic influence. As this book demonstrates, Romantic women writers not only thought in millenarian terms, but they did so in a way that significantly alters our current critical view of the relations between gender, genre, and literary authority in this period.

    • Suggests that the impact of religion and prophecy on Romanticism was much larger than previously realized
    • Throws new light on the relationship between gender, genre, and literary authority in the Romantic period
    • Draws new attention to a wide range of late eighteenth-century archival material on prophecy
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    • Winner of the 2015 First Book Award, British Association for Romantic Studies

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Whatever readers decide about where we are now, Smith's Romantic Women Writers, Revolution, and Prophecy provides an important analysis of how Romantic women wrote on topics and in ways that surprised and often annoyed their critics.' Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies

    'This excellent study discusses writers who, along with their male counterparts, formed the intellectual vanguard of the period … The meticulous notes are a gold mine for period research; the bibliography is extensive, the index outstanding. In sum, the volume is outstanding in every way … Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and researchers.' J. Coghill, Choice

    '[This book] corrects the gender imbalance of previous work on literary enthusiasm by shedding light on the previously obscured role of women writers in apocalyptic discourse … a tremendously fluent and incisive study, making surprising and productive use of speech-act theory to bring out the performative dimension of prophetic writing.' Judges' Report, 2015 First Book Prize, British Association for Romantic Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107566736
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: reading and writing the End of the World
    1. Verbal magic: an etymology of female enthusiasm
    2. The second coming of Hester Lynch Piozzi
    3. 'I, being the representative of liberty': Helen Maria Williams and the Utopian performative
    4. The passion of the Gothic heroine: Ann Radcliffe and the origins of narrative
    5. Anna Barbauld as Enlightenment prophet
    6. Prophesying tragedy: Mary Shelley and the end of Romanticism

  • Author

    Orianne Smith, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    Orianne Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her edition of Mary Robinson's Hubert de Sevrac, A Romance of the Eighteenth Century (1796) was published in 2009.


    • Winner of the 2015 First Book Award, British Association for Romantic Studies

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