The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace 1678-1730

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The period 1678-1730 was a decisive one not only in Western political history but also in the history of the British press. Changing conditions for political expression and an expanding book trade enabled unprecedented opportunities for political activity. The Women of Grub Street argues that women already at work in the London book trade were among the first to seize those new opportunities for public political expression.

Synthesizing areas of scholarly inquiry previously regarded as separate, and offering a new model for the study of the literary marketplace, The Women of Grub Street examines not only women writers, but also printers, booksellers, ballad-singers, hawkers, and other producers and distributors of printed texts. Original both in its sources and in the claims it makes for the nature, extent, and complexities of women's participation in print culture and public politics, it provides a wealth of new information about middling and lower-class women's political and literary lives, and shows that these women were not merely the passive distributors of other people's political ideas. The central argument of the book is that women of the widest possible variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and religio-political allegiances in fact played so prominent a role in the production and transmission of political ideas through print as to belie simultaneous powerful claims that women had no place in public life. The first full-length study to suggest the degree of involvement of women in the entire process of print creation at this important moment, The Women of Grub Street supports a number of important revisionary arguments with a broad range of literary and archival evidence. It will be of interest to readers of literature, social and publishing history, women's studies and feminism, and the history of democracy and public discourse.

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Oxford University Press
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