Women reading Shakespeare, 1660-1900 comprehensively rediscovers a lost tradition of women's writing on Shakespeare. Since Margaret Cavendish published the first critical essay on Shakespeare in 1664, women have written as scholars, critics, editors, performers and popularisers of Shakespeare. Many found in Shakespeare criticism the opportunity to raise a wide variety of issues, ranging from the use of women in society, family life, social relations and ethnic difference. In their different ways, women appropriated Shakespeare to their own ends - t always in step with their male contemporaries. Virtually ne of this work is available today; it is unread and unkwn. This fascinating anthology draws upon extensive new research to collect for the first time in one volume the Shakespeare criticism of some fifty British and American women writing before 1900. It includes the work of both familiar and unkwn names and represents the diversity of literary genres used by women: the scholarly article, the periodical essay, book-length studies, personal memoirs, books for children, school editions. The volume also includes previously unkwn Shakespeare illustrations by women, and a general introduction to the development of women's criticism of Shakespeare before 1900.
Ann Thompson is Professor of English and Head of the English Department at Roehampton Institute, London Sasha Roberts taught at the University of Kent