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Poetry and the Making of the English Literary Past1660-1781$
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Richard Terry

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198186236

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186236.001.0001

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Making the Female Canon

Making the Female Canon

(p.252) 8 Making the Female Canon
Poetry and the Making of the English Literary Past

Richard Terry (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The final quarter of the 18th century sees the appearance of the first multi-volume compilations of English poetry, including John Bell's The Poets of Great Britain Complete from Chaucer to Churchill (1776-1782) and its English rival The Works of the English Poets (1779-1781), boasting biographical prefaces by the hand of Samuel Johnson. In the following decade appeared Robert Anderson's Works of the British Poets (1792-1795), itself fifteen years later to be succeeded by a nearly identical production in Alexander Chalmers's twenty-one volume Works of the English Poets from Chaucer to Cowper (1810). One fact about these works is that none admits even a solitary woman poet. This chapter contends that the process of women writers' accession to their own canon, as well as their incorporation into the larger poetic tradition, occurs somewhat earlier than thought in the form of historical anthologies and general and authorial biographies.

Keywords:   English literature, poetry, women poets, literary canon, Samuel Johnson, literary tradition, anthologies, biographies

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