Essays by John Rogers, Helen Wilcox, Donna Landry, Margaret A Doody, Susan J Wolfson, John M Anderson, and Stuart Curran on the way that women poets found their vocation, looking not only at individual poets such as Aemilia Lanyer, Margaret Cavendish, and Charlotte Smith; but also at how the vocation of woman poetess was perceived in other literature, especially eighteenth-century novels. All of the essays touch on the differences between male and female poetic vocation: the ways in which family, community, and forms of biological generation allowed women to situate their own vocational space and 'line', separately from men's but often in dialogue with it. The first two essays, by John Rogers and Helen Wilcox, present a rich picture of Lanyer's self-initiation; through devotional verse, she at once 'delivered to posterity a new literary tradition' (Rogers); and 'slipped in the back door' (Wilcox).
Donna Landry then explores the natural muse, which, she argues, inspired a particularly empathic view of flora and fauna that at the same time did not neglect scientific taxonomy; and Margaret Doody shows that women refused the male preoccupation with courtship and marriage, fashioning their own categories for a wider range of affections. Susan Wolfson and John Anderson show how Charlotte Smith consciously situated her poetry in relation to, but to the side of, the male-authored poetic and political traditions. Stuart Curran closes the volume by looking at the mother-daughter dyad in poetic inspiration, in terms of a metaphorical collaboration either of assimilation or reanimation.
Anne K. Mellor's recent books include Mothers of the Nation: Women's Political Writing in England, 1780 1830; and she has edited, with Maximillian E. Novak, Passionate Encounters in a Time of Sensibility. Felicity Nussbaum's work on gender and eighteenth-century studies includes Torrid Zones: Maternity, Sexuality, and Empire in Eighteenth-Century English Narratives, and she has edited, with Helen Deutsch, Defects: Engendering the Nation. Jonathan F. S. Post's most recent books are Green Thoughts, Green Shades: Essays by Contemporary Poets on the Early Modern Lyric and English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century. The coeditors of Forging Connections: Women's Poetry from the Renaissance to Romanticism are all professors of English at UCLA.