Welcome to In the Words of Women.
This blog is an online companion to the book In the Words of Women.
It serves as an invitation to step back in time … to “eavesdrop” on the lives of women writing 250 years ago … to become acquainted with 144 little-known but amazingly articulate chroniclers.
These women lived a long time ago, between 1765 and 1799. But once you attune your ears to their way of writing, their voices easily leapfrog across the centuries. Read just a few sentences and you’ll find yourself back in time, standing in their shoes. And what they have to say is always fascinating, often eye-opening, sometimes heart-rending.
The blog is a kind of “trailer” for the primary source material collected in the book. The heart of each post is a brief excerpt from the book. Introducing each passage is a short preface that touches on what’s notable in the excerpt that follows. There are also frequent posts featuring written material that didn’t make it into the book or that turns up as a result of ongoing research. Illustrations are also included when available.
The excerpts come from a wealth of sources—letters, diaries, court depositions, newspaper reports, published poems, plays and fiction. They cover an amazing range of concerns—from pre-Revolutionary political ferment to the costs of war, from the rigors of everyday life to occasional pleasures. And they represent an equally varied cast of characters. You’ll make the acquaintance of married women (whose husbands were statesmen, blacksmiths, clergymen, soldiers, businessmen, printers and magistrates, among other professions); slaves; indentured servants; unmarried sisters and daughters; school-mistresses; published writers; women who became landowners or businesswomen in their own right.
There are new posts twice weekly: Monday and Thursday. Do visit often to see which writers and which topics are being featured. Or use the categories to the right to chose readings on themes of interest to you. Subscribing to the blog is the best way to keep up with new posts; see the instructions at the bottom of the categories on the right. Ultimately, the blog is just a teaser, showcasing a small fraction of the material in the book. We hope that having sampled some of these 18th century writings, you’ll be curious to read more. We hope that you’ll buy In the Words of Women and/or urge your library to purchase a copy.