"'Queens of the Marketplace’: nineteenth-century women writers and the rise of the bestseller"
Guest editors: Clare Clarke & Clare Gill
Women writers occupied a highly significant space in the genealogy of nineteenth-century popular literature, not only because of the extraordinary sales their books achieved, but also in terms of women writers’ role in redefining the parameters of authorship at this time. Some of the bestselling works of the nineteenth century were authored by women: from the sensation novels of Mary Elizabeth Braddon in the 1860s to Marie Corelli’s romances in the 1890s, women writers carved out a lucrative share of the marketplace in the second half of the century. Bestselling works by women cut across literary genres (children’s literature, sensation fiction, detective stories, gothic literature, the romance, religious literature, New Woman fiction, cook books, and journalism), and in terms of audience, bestsellers also cut across social lines too.
The journal Women’s Writing invites papers for a special issue dedicated to the exploration of the diverse role of women writers in the rise of the bestseller in the nineteenth century. How did women writers contribute to the reshaping of authorial practice in the nineteenth century? In what ways did women writers address concerns or anxieties about professional authorship within their work? How was popular fiction by women writers shaped by the contemporary critical response to female bestselling authors? In what ways did female authors contribute to traditionally ‘masculine’ genres – such as the adventure and detective story? How and why did bestsellers by female authors appeal to readers across gender and class lines? In addition to reflecting the complexity and diversity of women writers’ contribution to the bestseller phenomenon in the nineteenth century, this special issue will also endeavour to answer some broader conceptual questions about the study of popular works of fiction and non-fiction. Why do some bestsellers have ephemeral popularity while others enjoy enduring appeal? What can we learn about culture more broadly from the study of bestsellers? How does the separation of popularity and value come about?
We welcome contributions on any nineteenth-century female authors of bestselling popular fiction and non-fiction, particularly overlooked and critically-neglected writers. Possible authors include
- Mrs Henry Wood
- Mary Elizabeth Braddon
- Mrs Humphry Ward
- Florence Marryat
- Charlotte Yonge
- Rhoda Broughton
- Marie Corelli
- Mrs Beeton
- Eliza Lynn Linton
Contributors should follow the journal’s house style details of which are to be found on the Women’s Writing web site http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/0999082.asp. This is the new MLA. Do note that instead of footnotes, we use endnotes with NO bibliography. All bibliographical information is included in the endnotes. For example, we require place of publication, publisher and date of publication in brackets after a book is cited for the first time.