Date of Submission

December 2000


This thesis studies the progressive nature of women's writing and the various factors that helped and hindered the successful publication of women's written works in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The thesis interrogates culturally encoded definitions of the term 'success' in relation to the status of these women writers. In a time when success meant, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, 'attainment of wealth or position', women could never achieve a level of success equal to the male elite. The dichotomous worldview, in which women were excluded from almost all active participation in the public sphere, led to a literary protest by women. However, the male-privileged binary system is seen critically to affect women's literary success. Hence, a redefinition of success will specifically refer to the literary experience of these women writers and a long-lasting recognition of this experience in the twentieth century. An examination of literary techniques used in key works from Catherine Macaulay, Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah More, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen suggests that there was a critical double standard with which women writers were constantly faced. The literary techniques, used by the earlier writers, fail in overcoming this critical double standard because of their emphasis on revolution. However, the last two women writers become literary successes (according to my reinterpretation of the term) because of their particular emphasis on amelioration rather than revolution. The conclusion of the thesis suggests that despite the 'unsuccessful' literary attempts by the first three women authors, there is an overall positive progression in women's journey toward literary success.;Described as the 'generational effect', this becomes the fundamental point of the study, because together these women represent a combined movement which challenges a system of patriarchal tradition, encouraging women to continue to push the gender relations' boundaries in order to be seen as individual, successful writers.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


184 pages