By Mary A. Waters (auth.)

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Additional info for British Women Writers and the Profession of Literary Criticism, 1789–1832

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Both Inchbald and Barbauld were unusually well read for women in their day, yet their education differed greatly. Neither, of course, enjoyed an advanced formal education. As Boaden suggests, however, Barbauld, born Anna Letitia Aikin, came from a family of scholars. Though a middle-class woman Dissenter, she not only received an unusually rigorous home education from her parents, but profited as well from the family’s proximity to the Dissenters’ academy where her father, John Aikin, a respected classicist and theologian, taught.

By the time she reached adulthood, her scholastic achievements were exceptional for anyone at the time, man or woman. In addition, Anna Letitia Aikin had already proven herself an accomplished writer. The lively and creative Warrington set freely circulated their own literary manuscripts, and her poetry ranked among their favorites. It was at the encouragement of this tightly knit intellectual community that she published her Poems, printed on the academy press in 1772, with a London edition appearing in 1773.

Their names were well known – even celebrated – and their association with their respective literary collections could be expected to increase marketability. Still, their previous 25 26 British Women Writers and the Profession of Literary Criticism, 1789–1832 publications had failed to secure permanent financial security for these two middle-class women, and commissions for paid literary work were welcome. These similarities should not, however, obscure their differences. Both Inchbald and Barbauld were unusually well read for women in their day, yet their education differed greatly.

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