A look at women writers

I suppose that it doesn’t seem like summer reading, but Elaine Showalter’s A Jury of Her Peers had me flipping pages as fast as any murder mystery could. Showalter tracks the history of women writers in America from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx, weaving together their personal stories with their artistic achievements to create compelling portraits of the artists.

The book covers many regional writers, both north and south of the Mason-Dixon. One Alabamian’s story particularly stuck out in my mind. Augusta Jane Evans, a Mobile native, was part of the boom of fiction written by women during the middle of the 19th century.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this book was the fact that these women wrote, and supported their families with their writing, while they were still expected to cook, clean and care for their children full time.

As the tensions leading up to the Civil War rose, Evans used her fiction to idealize the South and the system of slavery, work to which she had to reconcile herself once the war was over. Evans spent the rest of her career revising the sentiments of those earlier works and her own earlier beliefs.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this book was the fact that these women wrote, and supported their families with their writing, while they were still expected to cook, clean and care for their children full time. If these women could write great works without the aid of a dishwasher, a vacuum cleaner, or a washing machine, I think we could all find the time to do just a little bit more, too.

Written by: Amethyst V.