Francis Newman and the Capacities of Women.
Nineteenth-Century Prose 1990, Winter, 18, 1
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Reviews in Victorian periodicals of the mid-1860s customarily were unsigned, though the Fortnightly Review, edited by George Henry Lewes, in 1865 pioneered a new style of signed articles. (1) The Westminster Review, however, still followed the old fashion when, in October 1865, it printed a long unsigned review titled "Capacities of Women" (2) that inspected nine books from 1863-65, written by three women. George Eliot had long since ceased to contribute her own unsigned articles to the Westminster, for which she had also served as editor, but one can imagine her rejoicing at the defense of women in this particular review, whose authorship she probably also recognized. The writer had been invited to contribute to the first number of the journal in 1852 (3) and had continued to do so occasionally afterwards. But other readers of the Westminster may well have been misled into assuming the author was a woman, so staunchly does the unnamed reviewer champion women's rights and achievements. Actually, however, the review was written by a man Eliot greatly respected: Francis William Newman (1805-97), classical scholar and man of letters, brother of the distinguished churchman John Henry Newman. Not a brilliant review but a noteworthy one for what it emphasizes, "Capacities of Women" provides a salutary reminder that not all male reviewers participated in the disparagement of women authors which has come to seem almost inevitable for Victorian criticism, and that some influential men other than John Stuart Mill were feminist supporters even early in the cause of women's rights. Of course Mill was not singular in championing women's right to equality of their persons and respect for their talents, but the other male supporters, less distinguished in achievements, have regularly been forgotten.
- 2,99 €
- Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
- Published: 22 December 1990
- Publisher: Nineteenth-Century Prose
- Print Length: 16 Pages
- Language: English