The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw an explosion in Europe of interest in foreign languages and literatures. This book explores how early generations of women writers formed connections with each other across national boundaries. The volume sheds light on female networks spanning Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland and Denmark. It includes essays on ‘virtual’ networks, that is, on women who read, translated or were inspired by the work of women abroad, as well as essays exploring actual links between writers of different nationalities, be it through correspondence, visits or contact in the salons. The essays gathered here engage with a wide range of published and unpublished sources, from novels and poetry to autobiography and letters. They discuss writers whose work is becoming increasingly well known, such as Maria Edgeworth, Germaine de Staël, Rahel Varnhagen and George Sand, as well as those who are less familiar. Together, they open up new perspectives on the activities of these early women of letters and on the development of the European female literary tradition.
The volume is based on selected papers from a conference held at Chawton House Library in 2008 in conjunction with the pan-European ‘New Approaches to European Women’s Writing’ research project.