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Women and Romance Fiction in the English Renaissance


  • Date Published: November 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521031547

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About the Authors
  • This book, first published in 2000, traces the progress of Renaissance romance from a genre addressed to women as readers to a genre written by women. The Elizabethan period saw a boom in the publication of romances by male authors. Many of these, Helen Hackett argues, were directed at an imagined female audience, advertising to male readers the voyeuristic pleasures of fictions supposedly read in women's bedchambers. Yet within a hundred years this imagined audience gave way to real women romance-readers and even women romance-writers. Exploring this crucial transitional period, Hackett examines the work of a diverse range of writers from Lyly, Rich and Greene to Sidney, Spenser and Shakespeare. Her book culminates in an analysis of Lady Mary Wroth's Urania (1621), the first romance written by a woman and considers the developing representation of female heroism and selfhood, especially the adaptation of saintly roles to secular and even erotic purposes.

    • Wide-ranging account focused on the development of Renaissance romance in relation to women as readers and writers
    • Encompasses the work of Sidney, Spenser and Shakespeare; provides analysis of the first romance written by a woman, Wroth's Urania
    • Topical theme - interest in women as writers in early modern England is considerable and growing (complements Ilona Bell's book)
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A significant contribution to the study of Renaissance prose fiction.' Literature and History

    'Hackett's scholarship in this volume is illuminating and rewards close reading as it consolidates critical interest in many unfairly neglected texts in early modern studies.' Shakespeare Yearbook

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521031547
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.313kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of abbreviations and a note on the text
    1. The readership of Renaissance romance
    2. Renaissance romance and modern romance
    3. Novellas of the 1560s and 1570s
    4. Spanish and Portuguese romances
    5. Fictions addressed to women by Lyly, Rich and Greene
    6. The Arcadia: readership and authorship
    7. The Arcadia: heroines
    8. The Faerie Queene
    9. Shakespeare's romance sources
    10. Lady Mary Wroth's Urania
    Epilogue: the later seventeenth century

  • Author

    Helen Hackett, University College London

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