News from Chawton House Library and “The Female Spectator” ~

My mailbox gives such pleasure most days! – I have been away for the past week, but before leaving I received the latest issue of The Female Spectator [Vol. 13, No. 3, Summer 2009], published by the Chawton House Library and thus have a few things of interest to share with you….

1.  “Reprinting the Domestic:  New Publications from the Chawton Collection” –

book cover compleat housewife

The Chawton House Library has published the first in its projected series of reprints of books in their collection on women’s lives in the long eighteenth century – cookery books, guides on how to manage domestic servants, how to dress and educate one’s children, instructions on behavior and self-improvement:  Elizabeth Smith’s The Compleat Housewife, originally published in 1753, is now available for purchase for £18 [+ shipping], by visiting the Library’s new online shop at

The next title in the series is James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, the reading of which made the Bennet sisters cringe, though it may have been the reader [Mr. Collins] rather than the content?…  can’t wait for this one…

2.  Gillian Dow’s introduction to the July 2009 conference at the Chawton House Library on “New Directions in Austen Studies” is included in the newsletter with the news that selected papers from the conference will be published in a special issue of Persuasions On-Line in Spring 2010.  This is great news for those of us who could not attend the conference!

3.  An article on Frances Brooke, an English writer living in Canada from 1763-1768, by Richard J. Lane.  Brooke wrote her novel The History of Emily Montague [1769] during her Canadian stay and it has been considered the first Canadian novel due to its commentary on social life in Quebec at that time.  Lane contends that her writings deserve a reassessment.

4.  another article “Jane Austen’s Bad Girl: ‘The Beautiful Cassandra’ vs the Conduct Books” by Olivia Murphy.  Murphy writes that Austen’s juvenile work The Beautiful Cassandra [from Volume the First] was an explicit reaction to the conduct books of the late eighteenth century – i.e Cassandra in her “day well spent” engaged in all manner of “bad” behaviors for young ladies.  But such a day! [if you haven’t read this, do so now – it is Austen at her very best!]


The Female Spectator is the quarterly newsletter of Chawton House Library.  You can subscribe by sending a donation to the Library [£55 annual membership] or to the North American Friends of Chawton House Library [starting donation is $50.] – see the website for more information.  It is a worthy cause – and one of the perks is this newsletter showing up in your mailbox!

[Posted by Deb]

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