By A. Culley

British Women's lifestyles Writing, 1760-1840 brings jointly for the 1st time quite a lot of print and manuscript resources to illustrate women's cutting edge method of self-representation. It examines canonical writers, similar to Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson, and Helen Maria Williams, among others.

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Extra info for British Women’s Life Writing, 1760–1840: Friendship, Community, and Collaboration

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The ‘feast’ combined spiritual conversation and a shared meal and often resulted in collective conversions accompanied by trembling, crying, and fainting. Methodist Hester Ann Rogers’ description of a Dublin ‘feast of love’ in 1784 is typical of participants’ accounts: After several, who spoke with great freedom and simplicity, a poor penitent besought us with tears to pray for her. 57 These communal identities, understood in familial terms and articulated in a language of emotion, shape the self-representations of the Fletcher circle as they explore their relationships to their families, to one another, and to the wider community of Methodism.

29 On the twenty-eighth anniversary of her wedding (twentyfour years into her widowhood) Fletcher notes that ‘at this hour, I gave my hand and heart to John William De la Flechere’. She continues, ‘by faith I now join my hand afresh with his. 32 Fletcher’s relationships with female friends and John Fletcher provide an alternative lineage from her vexed family history and, at the same time, enable her to rewrite the traditional narrative of women’s experience as a progression from the role of daughter to wife and mother.

Fletcher repeatedly articulates friendship in familial terms by drawing on scriptural tropes and Methodist conceptions of religious community. ’12 This freedom to redefine the family is exploited by Fletcher as she imagines her female friendships as alternatives to the patriarchal family and marriage. In her early life she is on the verge of receiving a proposal from a man ‘likely to be very agreeable to my parents’. However, after a discussion with preacher Sarah Crosby, she notes that the ‘affair of the gentleman it was quite wiped out of my mind as in a moment’ (I, 18).

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