Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference

A collaborative project created by students enrolled in ENGL3013, "Women's Writing," at the University of Newcastle, Australia.





Part I: Women WritersEdit

Anne Askew (1521–1546)Edit
Anne Cooke Bacon (1527–1610)Edit
Anne Barbauld (1743–1825)Edit
Aphra Behn (1640–1689)Edit
Elizabeth of Bohemia (1596–1662)Edit
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)Edit
Mary Bonaventure Browne (c. 1610–c. 1670)Edit
Frances “Fanny” Burney (1752–1840)Edit
Anne Cary (1615–1671)Edit
Elizabeth Tanfield Cary, Viscountess Falkland (1585–1639)Edit
Lucy Cary (1619–1650)Edit
Mildred Cecil (1526–1589)Edit
Frances Cook (d. 1659)Edit
Eleanor, countess of Desmond (c.1545–1638)Edit
Lady Elizabeth Dowdall (fl. 1640–1642)Edit
Anne Dowriche (f. 1589)Edit
Caitilin Dubh (fl. 1624–1629)Edit
Dorothy Moore Dury (1613–1664)Edit
Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849)Edit
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) (2)Edit

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Maria Edgeworth (January 1, 1768 – May 22, 1849) was an English writer, most well-known for her literary children’s books, as well as her views on politics, education, and civil life. She was born in Black Bourton, a small village in Oxfordshire, England. Her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, was a distinguished writer, politician and inventor. Her mother, Anna Maria Edgeworth, passed away when Maria was only five years of age, at which time Maria left England to live with her father and stepmother in County Longford, Ireland, at the Edgeworth estate (Ó Gallchoir 717).

From an early age, Maria was influenced by intellectuals, and learned members of the Lunar Society. Her father initiated her education by teacher her about economics, law, literature, and science. She would later become her father’s assistant in managing their family estate, and later still, would collaborate with her father in an academic sphere – where she excelled, even beyond her father.

Edgeworth’s work was in many respects ahead of her time, and her educational research and theories were again brought to prominence in the second half of the twentieth century, with Jerome Bruner’s work on scaffolding (Jeung and Kellog 510).


Maria’s work has been marked by her talent for social and character observation, a notable theme which had made Edgeworth a popular literary figure (Harmon 324). This practical and evidential writing style gave her work authority. Her first published work is recognised as Castle Rackrent, which follows four generations of the Rackrent family through their lives revolving around their estate (Connolly 668). The first unpublished work, which has come to the knowledge and recognition of modern scholars, is ‘The Double Disguise’, written in 1786. This juvenilia text is an example of how Edgeworth’s later work was influenced by early formations of understanding and thought in language. This play centres around Charles Westbrook, a returning soldier from war, who twice disguises himself, as a way to test the integrity and fidelity of his wife -to-be, Dolly. In the play, Edgeworth toyed with Irish colloquialisms and regional dialects (UNSW).

Maria’s follow up works include two articles ‘Letters for Literary Ladies’ written in 1795, and ‘Practical Education’, written later in 1798. The first of these articles, ‘Letters for Literary Ladies’, was a comment on the power relations between men and women in the eighteenth-century, and while the ideas discussed sought to advance women in society, they were nonetheless criticised by some women. These contemporaries offered the argument that Edgeworth’s work does little to advance women, and may even be detrimental to the integrity of women novelists (Mullen 234).

‘Practical Education’ is the first research work by Edgeworth, and focuses on educational reforms and new practices. These theories and strategies were trialled at the family estate in Ireland, on around ten of the children residing there at the time. This work draws on ideas from educational scholars such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and puts forth the argument that early childhood experiences are formative to the future development of humans (Chandler 95). The theories speculated also consider the process of aiding children in developing their knowledge through play, and the disadvantages of rote in certain contexts. These are theories which have been established as accepted and educational practices in the twentieth and twenty-first century (Ridout et al. 860, Ulfers et al. 1475). Edgeworth was encouraged by her father Richard, and this exemplifies the importance which a nurturing figure had in her development. Although it is noted by some scholars that Edgeworth was in a way always spurred on, by encouragement from her father, rather than taking interest in writing inherently.


Maria Edgeworth was a prominent figure in educational research, and the theories which she agreed on and those which she formed herself, have in many cases been accepted in modern educational research, ratifying her observational power in relation to childhood (Jeung and Kellog). Edgeworth was also an outspoken and critical voice in the role of women in society, and the power relations which dictated women’s lives in her time. Furthermore, Edgeworth’s sympathies for the Irish made her a non-explicit protestor for the colonial rule which England enforced on its neighbour (Manly 770).

Edgeworth may also be considered as a forebearer of Young Adult fiction, and her ability to immerse herself in narrative, and form realistic and believable characters outside of herself, is a testament to her creative skill. Her experience with a large number of siblings may certainly have contributed to her understanding of the varying child identities and spectrums that exist. These multitudes of voices may have given her a small sample of what childhood across society.

Through her works, Edgeworth presented to readers the importance of civic duties, which included the relationships between humans, and the need to for patience and kindness, to grow better opportunities for future generations.

Edgeworth’s questioning of Irish identity, and identity in general, as well as pressing questions on the direction of education, made her a leading expert. Many people in Britain, Ireland, and the rest of Europe, saw her work as an important, building on the ideas of renaissance thinkers and theorists.


Chandler, Anne. "Maria Edgeworth on Citizenship: Rousseau, Darwin, and Feminist Pessimism in "Practical Education"." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, vol. 35, no. 1, 2016, pp. 93-122.

Connolly, Claire. "The Secret of Castle Rackrent." European Romantic Review, vol. 31, no. 6, 2020, pp. 663-679.

Harmon, Mary. "Empowerment Or Ridicule? Irish Vernacular in Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent." The Midwest Quarterly (Pittsburg), vol. 56, no. 4, 2015, pp. 324.

Jeung, Han H., and David Kellogg. "A Story without SELF: Vygotsky's Pedology, Bruner's Constructivism and Halliday's Construalism in Understanding Narratives by Korean Children." Language and Education, vol. 33, no. 6, 2019, pp. 506-520.

Manly, Susan. "Maria Edgeworth's Political Lives." European Romantic Review, vol. 31, no. 6, 2020, pp. 767-786.

Mullen, Mary. "Anachronistic Aesthetics: Maria Edgeworth and the 'Uses' of History." Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 26, no. 2, 2013, pp. 233-259.

Ó Gallchoir, Clíona. ""A Desert Island is a Delightful Place": Maria Edgeworth and Robinson Crusoe." European Romantic Review, vol. 31, no. 6, 2020, pp. 715-729.

Ridout, K. K., et al. "Early Life Adversity and Telomere Length: A Meta-Analysis." Molecular Psychiatry, vol. 23, no. 4, 2018;2017;, pp. 858-871.

Ulferts, Hannah, Katrin M. Wolf, and Yvonne Anders. "Impact of Process Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care on Academic Outcomes: Longitudinal Meta‐Analysis." Child Development, vol. 90, no. 5, 2019, pp. 1474-1489.

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences. “The Double Disguise by Maria Edgeworth.” YouTube, September 28, 2015

Elizabeth Evelinge (1597–1668)Edit
Mary Fage (fl. 1637)Edit
Ann, Lady Fanshawe (1625–1680)Edit
Anne Finch (1661–1720)Edit
Brighid Fitzgerald (Nic Gearailt, c.1589–1682)Edit
Lettice Fitzgerald, Baroness Offaly (c.1580–1658)Edit
Constance Aston Fowler (d. 1664)Edit
Elizabeth Hanson (1684–c. 1737)Edit
Eliza Haywood (c. 1693–1756)Edit
Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681)Edit
Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh (1615–1691)Edit
Mary Knatchbull (1610–1696)Edit
Sarah Kemble Knight (1666–1727)Edit
Delarivier Manley (1663–1724)Edit
Marie Maitland (d. 1596)Edit
Hannah More (1745–1833)Edit

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Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference -


British writer Hannah More is renowned for her works within playwriting and poetry, but her works also extend beyond her literature and into the fields of abolishment, philanthropy and religion. Born in Stapleton, Gloucestershire, England. (Feb. 2nd 1745)[1], More also spent a majority of her lifetime being an educator for the poor people of England. Throughout More’s childhood she was exposed and influenced in the world of educators by her father who was a schoolmaster at the school located in Bristol. This later expanded into her father Jacob More opening his own boarding-school in which More and her sisters attended as well as attending classes at Bristol Baptist Academy. An overall influence of growing up in an environment of loving, intellectual and predominantly female environment plays a vital role in the topics and penmanship that More displays within her writings[2]. Hannah More lived until the age of 88 (died on 7th September 1833, Bristol Gloucestershire). She is also notably the first female writer in recorded history to have made profit from her writings, leaving behind 30 000 pounds in which she donated to a number of charities and religious societies, symbolising the generosity, beliefs and values she withheld and contributed towards with her fortunes[3].


Hannah More’s work extended far beyond her works in education and charity, writing some of the most acclaimed pieces of works by a female writer during her time. The piece of poetry that acted as a catalyst towards her success in British literature, a predominantly male centred field was ‘The Bleeding Rock’, a poem that was inspired by the rocks present in her Belmont estate. The poem encompasses a number of religious references and influences, making note to purity, raptures and an absence of vanity- displaying the Christian views held by many of the time period contributing to the reason as to why it resonated so strongly with the British public. From 1760-1780 More began to publish a number of her playwrights, with a number of them being staged throughout different areas of Britain. Her first play being entitled “The Inflexible Captive”, was staged in Bath during the year 1775. During the late 1770’s and a majority of the 1780’s More then moved to London to further pursue her career in writing. Throughout this period More was able to make acquaintance with a number of notable political and societal figures. The remainder of More’s time in London consisted of continuing to produce a number of her plays. She was able to produce and stage ‘Percy: A Tragedy’ (1777) but then later decided to give up playwriting at the death of her mentors Garrick and Johnson as well as her final play being considered a failure, (The Fatal Falsehood, 1779).

Although giving up play writing More remained in London in which she was involved with a number of religious figures as well as a group of evangelical Christians who were against the slave trade. These experiences as well as the influences of the individuals around her, More converted to an evangelical Christian as well as beginning her works towards abolishment of the Slave Trade, her works and attitudes still resonating today when discussing the history of slavery in Britain. After a period of time spent in London, More then decided to return home to Bristol. Despite leaving London she still had a relationship to notable figures in abolishment such as William Wilberforce and John Newton. While in Bristol she continued writing a number of poems that worked towards the abolishment of slavery, her poem entitled ‘Slavery, A Poem’ (1788), was written to coincide with William Wilberforce’s case in parliament when discussing the slave trade. In the years to follow More wrote a similar poem in regard to slavery entitled ‘The Sorrow of Yamba’ (1795), which depicted the story of an enslaved woman. Hannah More’s works to follow also addressed topics of religion as her book ‘Village Politics’ (1792)[4], addressed the public of Britain at the time, encouraging the poor in faith to repent and turn to God. While still holding on to her beliefs of the importance of education More also opened schools for children and literary clubs for women teaching literacy and religious doctrine.


Much of Hannah More’s legacy impacted the people of her time, but her influence in the school of education is still prevalent in the modern world today. In terms of her works in being an evangelical Christian, More’s writings and works for Christians of the time is seen as a beacon of expression and allowed for the people of the time to resonate with her works. Within the field of education More provided education for the low-socioeconomic people of Britain and she has several schools in the modern world such as ‘Hannah More Public School’, in her hometown of Bristol. Furthermore More’s works in the abolishment of the slave trade in the context of Britain also remains a focal point of her works and legacy that extend beyond just her works and writings. The use of her platform as well as her talents in writing contributing towards the act of abolishing the slave trade symbolises the character, generosity and values that Hannah More withheld and why she is seen as the most successful women’s writer of the time. Although her health prohibited her from having a direct role in the slave abolishment bill that was passed in the year 1806, it is without question that the literature created by More had an influence over the passing of this law[5].

[1] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2022), ‘Hannah More’.

[2] John Simkin (2022), ‘Hannah More’.

[3] Brycchan Carey (2004), ‘Hannah More (1745-833)’.

[4] Lexi Friesnan (2015), ‘Women’s History Month: Hannah More’.

Fionnghuala Ní Bhriain (c.1557–c.1617)Edit
Gráinne Ní Mháille (c.1530–c.1603; al. Grace O'Malley)Edit
Julian of Norwich (1343–1416)Edit
Julian of Norwich (c.1343–1416) (2)Edit
Anne Vaughan Locke Prowse (c. 1533–after 1590)Edit
Lucy Harington Russell, Countess of Bedford (1580–1627)Edit
Katharine Parr (1512–1548)Edit
Laetitia Pilkington (c. 1709–1750)Edit
Hester Thrale Piozzi (1741–1821)Edit
Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi (1741-1821)Edit
Mary Prince (1788–1833)Edit
Mary Rich, countess of Warwick (1624–1678)Edit
Mary Rowlandson (c. 1637–1711)Edit
Charlotte Smith (1749–1806)Edit
Anne Southwell (1573–1636)Edit
Gertrude Aston Thimelby (1617–1668)Edit
Winifred Thimelby (1619–1690)Edit
Alice Thornton (1626–1707)Edit
Elizabeth Tyrwhit (d. 1578)Edit
Mary Ward (1585–1645)Edit
Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784)Edit
Isabella Whitney (fl. 1567–1573)Edit
Margaret Tyndal Winthrop (c.1591–1647)Edit

Part II: Scholars, Theorists, and ProjectsEdit

Scholars of Women's Writing: Early Modern to ContemporaryEdit

Thomas BentleyEdit
Peter DavidsonEdit
Alexander DyceEdit
Julia FlandersEdit
John FoxeEdit
Germaine GreerEdit
Elizabeth HagemanEdit
Kim F. HallEdit
Margo HendricksEdit
Elaine HobbyEdit
Margaret HannayEdit
Leigh HuntEdit
Leigh Hunt (2)Edit
Anne Lake PrescottEdit
Barbara K. LewalskiEdit

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Barbara Kiefer Lewalski – Theorist/Academic/Researcher


On February 22, 1931 in Topeka, Kansas, Barbara Kiefer (later Lewalski) was born to John, a farmer, and Vivo Kiefer, a school teacher and speech therapist. Lewalski went on to study at the Emporia State University, Kansas, where she attained a Bachelor of Science, then succeeding in her Ph.D. in 1956 from the prestigious University of Chicago. Lewalski’s Ph.D. supervisor was Ernest Sirluck, who had been an important literary commentator on Milton’s work. After completing her doctorate, Lewalski went on to teach and work at Brown University, in three different roles, in the years between 1956 to 1982. After this period, she would become Professor of English Literature, as well as History and Literature, at Harvard University. Lewalski retired from this position, having taught there from 1983 to 2010.

In 1966, Lewalski became a Guggenheim fellow, a great honour for academics of the arts in the United States. In the year 1980 she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1986 became a member of the American Philosophical Society (Dubrow 181).

Barbara married Ken Lewalski, a fellow professor at Brown University, and the pair had one son, David Lewalski. Kenneth passed away during 2006, and Barbara passed away in 2018, due to a heart attack, brought on by congenital heart disease. Barbara is remembered for her contributions to Renaissance literature, and to her barrier-breaking work on Milton.


Stretching for more than sixty years, Lewalski’s works and contributions to the field of literature, history, and renaissance understandings are vast. Lewalski’s main focus rested on Milton’s work, following her Ph.D. supervisor, Ernest Sirluck. Her first article published in 1953 was titled ‘The Authorship of Ancient Bounds’, which discusses an unsigned tract, thought to be written by Joshua Sprigge in 1645, speaking of religious toleration (Kiefer). In this work it is evident a holistic and liberal approach, which is so distinctive of Lewalski’s later publications.

Lewalski contributed much to the literary history of Milton’s era, and beside her own authored books, is credited as editor in numerous other works. We also find a strong presence as a research expert, and of course as educator, both at Brown and Harvard.

The first full book published by Lewalski in 1966 was ‘

Typology and Poetry: A Consideration of Herbert, Vaughan, and Marvell’, Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric’, ‘"Paradise Lost" and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms’, ‘Writing Women in Jacobean England’, ‘Form and Reform in Renaissance England’, and ‘The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography’.

In her work ‘Writing Women in Jacobean England’, Lewalski discusses the active roles of nine featured women writers, and contends that they were not passive, but rather formed their own identity and power. This is an important point to make on early women literature, as it diverges from the commonly accepted notion of women in the Renaissance as sidelined.

While scholars generally see her work as important in gaining useful insights into the roles of women in early modern literature, some scholars argue that some of her work lacked critical and evidential analysis.

Lewalski’s re-evaluation of women writers in Jacobean England, served to change the detrimental archaic paradigm of women as less valuable or influential, than men writers (Loewenstein 175).


Throughout her long academic career, Lewalski displayed her concern with engrained ideas which had been present in early modern literature. These concerns manifested themselves as ideas surrounding religious ethics, and ideas of patriarchy, and authors who challenged these views.

Lewalski leaves a legacy of spearheading a field which had been ignored by many previous academics, and paved the way for important discussions of gender roles, and on the significance of women writers of the past. Lewalski stands as a major figure in the field of English literary studies, which is evident not only in the numerous works which have been authored and edited by her, but by the awards which have been given to her for her contributions.

Her analyses and study of devotional lyric is an area which Lewalski revolutionised, by taking this often-overlooked genre and creating a new paradigm for understanding (Martz). What Lewalski gave to the field of English literary studies, is a wealth of critical thinking, which would go on to inspire the next generations of academics. Richard Strier notes that before Lewalski’s work, there was but a single text which dominated the reading of this genre – Lous L. Martz’ ‘Poetry of Meditation’. Strier notes that this is important because a singular authority can create a narrow view of history, and leaves little room for those without evidence of another analyses (Strier 185).

Juliet Fleming, however, views Lewalski’s work with more critical eyes, and discusses that her conservative views on feminism may not be as relevant or revolutionary at the turn of the millennium, as they were during the time when the majority of her work was written and published. Fleming also states that while the work makes for a good introduction, it is perhaps too near-sighted, she states ‘Lewalski’s own approach may help to popularize writing by early modern women but comprises only the beginning of an adequate account of it.’ (Fleming 201).


Clare, Janet. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, "Writing Women in Jacobean England" (Book Review). vol. 46, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995.

Dubrow, Heather. "Genre in Barbara Lewalski's Career/The Genre of Barbara Lewalski's Career." Milton Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 4, 2019, pp. 180-183.

Ferguson, Margaret W. Moderation and its Discontents: Recent Work on Renaissance Women. vol. 20, Feminist Studies, Inc, College Park, Md, 1994.

Fleming, Juliet. "Writing Women in Jacobean England Barbara K. Lewalski." The Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 2, 1994, pp. 199-204.

Kiefer, Barbara. "The Authorship of Ancient Bounds." Church History, vol. 22, no. 3, 1953, pp. 192-196.

Lewalski, Barbara K. Donne's Anniversaries and the Poetry of Praise: The Creation of a Symbolic Mode. vol. 1508., Princeton University Press, Princeton; Jackson, 2016.

Lewalski, Barbara K. Milton’s Brief Epic: The Genre, Meaning and Art of Paradise Regained. Providence, Brown University Press, 1966. Internet Archive

Lewalski, Barbara K. Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms. Princeton University Press, Princeton;Ewing;, 2016.

Lewalski, Barbara K. "Writing Women and Reading the Renaissance." Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 4, 1991, pp. 792-821.

Loewenstein, David. "Five Perspectives on Barbara Lewalski's Path‐breaking Scholarship and Career: Preface." Milton Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 4, 2019, pp. 175-175.

Madsen, William G. "Milton's Brief Epic: The Genre, Meaning, and Art of "Paradise Regained" . Barbara Kiefer Lewalski , Milton." Modern Philology, vol. 65, no. 3, 1968, pp. 251-253.

Martz, Louis L. The Poetry of Meditation: A Study in English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn, 1974.

Strier, Richard. "Barbara Lewalski and a Critical Revolution." Milton Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 4, 2019, pp. 184-186.

Ania LoombaEdit
Cristina MalcolmsonEdit

Josephine A. Roberts

Louise SchleinerEdit
Hilda L. SmithEdit
Jane StevensonEdit
Mihoko SuzukiEdit
Janet M. ToddEdit
Betty TravitskyEdit
Helene CixousEdit

Collaborations and ProjectsEdit

Bieses: Bibliografía de Escritoras EspañolasEdit
Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC)Edit
Emory Women Writers Resource ProjectEdit
WINK: Women’s Invisible InkEdit
Women’s Early Modern Letters OnlineEdit
Women Writers Project (Northeastern University)Edit
RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Women's Writing, 1550–1700Edit


The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing (RECIRC) is a research project that focuses on the impact and influence female writers and their productions had between 1550-1700. The project is led by Marie-Louise Coolahan and is based at the National University of Ireland Galway. Research was conducted on writers who were read, born in or resided in Anglophone countries, which meant that the works were not all written in English. RECIRC’s aim is to produce a quantitative data base of these works from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The research questions that guided RECIRC’s analysis of these works were:

1. How did texts by women circulate?

2. Which female authors were read and by whom?

3. How were they read?

4. How did women build reputations as writers?

5. How did gender shape ideas about authorship?


RECIRC is a project that involves a team of 11 researchers based at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

RECIRC is led by Marie-Louise Coolahan, the Principal Investigator with a background as a Professor of English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her own professional experiences include being the author of Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland (Oxford UP, 2010) as well as a strong repertoire of articles and essays on early textual transmissions.

Bronagh McShane is part of the 11-person research team and is a social historian that specialises in the history of women, religion and confessionalisation in early modern Ireland and Europe. She has been published broadly and is currently conducting her own study of early modern Irish nuns.

Emilie K.M. Murphy is another member of the team and is a cultural historian whose research within RECIRC is in the transmission and translation of female-authored texts across sixteenth and seventeenth century convents and seminaries.

Felicity Maxwell’s role within the research team is focused on women’s and servants’ letters, combined with English literature, social and cultural history, and the study of manuscripts. Felicity is widely published and is currently writing a monograph extending her research for RECIRC titled, Serving the Protestant Public: Gender, Vocation and Collaboration.

The fifth member of the research team is Evan Bourke, a literary historian with a specialisation in women’s writing, epistolary culture, network analysis and data visualization. His PhD thesis analysed the formation and subsequent reputation of three women connected to Samuel Hartlib’s correspondence.

Sajed Chowdhury, prior to joining RECIRC was Modern Humanities Research Association Fellow for the Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700. His experiences led his research within RECIRC to focus on early women’s writings, manuscript cultures and the history of science.

Erin A. McCarthy is another broadly published member of the research team whose particular interest in poetry and poetics, textual theory, and the history of material texts and reading, allow her to add to RECIRCs database with a keen engagement of the transmission and reception of women’s writing in manuscript miscellanies.

Mark Empey, another member of the research team and a cultural historian, has published articles and essays on the history of books, scholarly networks, and journaled religious conflicts, and has a particular interest in book history.

The eighth member of the research team is Wes Hamrick. He specialises in British and Irish literature of the eighteenth century, and its poetry, manuscripts and printing, His research project is on the influence of British print culture on Irish, Scots Gaelic, Scot’s vernacular, and Welsh.

Ioanna Kyvernitou is a PhD student, and her research within RECIRC investigates the way women’s studies, the history of philosophy and ontological engineering combine with and are related to philosophical issues.

David Kelly is responsible for the design and development of RECIRCs quantitative and analytical database.


There are four outlined work packages within RECIRC.

1. Transnational Religious Networks is researched by Dr Bronagh McShane and Dr Emilie K.M. Murphy and focuses on the translation and transmission of female authored texts across Europe within the Catholic religious order. This research consulted religious orders such as: Augustinians, Benedictines, Brussels, and Dunkirk, Poor Clares, as well as the Bodleian Library, British Library, and the Archives of the Archdiocese of Westminster.

2. The International Republic of Letters is researched by Dr Felicity Maxwell and Dr Evan Bourke and it focuses on the international circulation of letters across Europe as the key mode of communication of ideas and texts by women, thus creating intellectual networks. This work package is based on the Hartlib Papers.

3. The Manuscript Miscellany as Instrument of Circulation and Site of Reception is researched by Dr Sajed Chowdhury and Dr Erin A. McCarthy. It focuses on the reception towards women’s writing, specifically within manuscript miscellany, investigating varying methods of reception through compilation, adaptation, and excerptions. The research for this work package was conducted through an audit of the manuscript collections held at the Bodleian Library, The British Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Huntington Library, through this audit 750 miscellanies were found, 128 of which contained women’s writing.

4. Transmission Trails and Book Ownership is researched by Dr Mark Empey. This work package creates a map of the transmission of women’s texts through evidence in early modern libraries, patterns of book ownership and the attribution of an author. This was researched through catalogues of auctions, book lists, inventories, wills, and private libraries, using Early English Books Online and Private Libraries of Renaissance England.

The IRC work package focuses on The Reception and Circulation of Irish Women’s Writing, 1550-1800. It is researched by Dr Wes Hamrick and details the transmission and translation of Irish women’s writing up to 1800, a hundred years past RECIRCs initial focus of 1550-1700. This work package contributes to critical study about multi-lingual anthologies and comparative studies.

Reputation/ Legacy:

The RECIRC research project’s professional reputation is solidified by its supporters, The European Research Council, The National University of Ireland Galway, The Irish Research Council, and the Moore Institute. Their attention to detail and historical accuracy is demonstrated through RECIRCs efforts to ensure that at least two researchers have checked every piece of evidence, yet they still encourage others to consult additional primary evidence to consolidate their knowledge.

RECIRC is also strengthening the legacy of many women writers through their data demonstrating the most commonly seen and circulated authors like, Queen Elizabeth I, Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh, Mary Percy, Abbess of Brussels Benedictine convent and more.

The RECIRC database contains: • 1,878 female authors from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, North America, the Low Countries, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, from classical to early modern times. • 7,319 works authored by women. • 4,845 receptions of female authors and their works by 678 identified people in 1,431 different sources. • 15% of received authors were received twice or more. • 13% of receptions in the dataset are anonymous, meaning the identity of the author, audience or owner cannot be identified.

The RECIRC research team admits that there is far more material that is continuously being uncovered and recorded that they could not locate and analyse within their five-year time frame for their research project, so they leave an open-ended legacy that can be added to by further research in the future.


@RECIRC_. "EM Women's Writing". Twitter, 2014. Bourke, Evan. "Female Involvement, Membership, And Centrality: A Social Network Analysis of The Hartlib Circle". Special Issue: Collaboration, Translation, Publication: Literary and Linguistic Exchanges Between Early Modern England And Europe, vol 14, no. 4, 2017. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/lic3.12388. Coolahan, Marie-Louise. "The Cultural Dynamics of Reception". Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, vol 50, no. 1, 2020. Duke University Press. McShane, Bronagh Ann. "An Introduction To RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700". Paisajes Espirituales, 2017. RECIRC. "RECIRC | The Reception & Circulation of Early Modern Women's Writing, 1550 - 1700 | NUI Galway | ERC". Recirc.Nuigalway.Ie, 2020.