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The Rise of Woman Novelists

Written by: Anuradha sowmyanarayanan

Women have contributed a lot to the world of Literature. Among them are the ones who brought a special focus on writing novels and became the first woman novelist.

THE RISE OF WOMEN NOVELIST started with Mrs. Aphra Behn. She is the earliest English women to write fiction. She lived her early life in India, and later on at Antwerp, before she settled in England. She is noteworthy for the use she made of everyday facts and experience. Her major works are OROONOKO and THE FAIR JILT.

Immediate successors to Mrs. Behn were Mrs. Manley and Mrs. Haywood. NEW ATLANTIS IN 1709 of Mrs. Manley and UTOPIAN MEMOIRS OF Mrs. Haywood were popular in those times. These two ladies were prolific writers, and Mrs. Haywood dealt largely with the short story.

Henry Fielding’s sister- Miss fielding in 1744 wrote a novel- DAVID SIMPLE.

In 1761 MEMOIRS OF MISS SIDNEY BIDDULPH BY Frances Sheridan was published. Then towards the close of the age, came yet greater signs of promise in the form of Mrs. Radcliffe.

Hannah More’s lived from 1745 – 1833. Her work CELEBS IN SEARCH OF A WIFE was brought out in 1809.

Fanny Burney (1752-1840) became famous for her work EVELINA or THE HISTORY OF A YOUNG LADY’S ENTRANCE INTO THE WORLD. The book is an admirable picture of the manners of the time, from the woman’s point of view. In 1782, CECILIA or THE MEMOIRS OF AN HEIRESS, in 1796 CAMILLA, in 1814 THE WANDERER are her other works.

Maria Edge worth was a prolific writer on educational matters and published THE PARENT’S ASSISTANT in six volumes in 1800. Her first novel was written before she was twenty, though it did not appear till 1814, under the title of ‘patronage”. In 1800 the famous CASTLE RACKRENT was published and BELINDA a year later.

Susan Ferrier (1782-1854), she wrote only three novels namely MARRIAGE in 1818, THE INHERITANCE in 1824, DESTINY in 1831.

Miss Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855), the only work with which she is known is OUR VILLAGE, published around 1824-1832, a series of charming sketches of rural life. Living through the revival of Romanticism, she belongs by temperament and method to the later 18th century, to the school of manners of which Fanny Burney was a pioneer and Jane Austen the mistress craftswoman

Jane Austen (1775-1817) a born storyteller has five novels to her credit. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE 1796-97, NORTHANGER ABBEY 1798, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY 1797, MANSFIELD PARK, 1814, EMMA 1816, PERSUASION written in 1816, but were not published till after her death,  another novel LADY SUSAN was also not published, and THE WATSONS she left unfinished.