The Introduction maps out the historical, social, and linguistic contexts for the writing discussed in the book. It locates the project in relation to the ‘new British history’ and defines the parameters of ‘Irishness’ as understood in this study. It explains the book's methodology and its focus on genre as an organizing principle. A genre‐based approach facilitates analysis of the literary contexts and writing practices in which women engaged in some numbers in this period; it elucidates the diverse social conditions in which women were impelled or encouraged to write; it enables a nuanced analysis of gender and genre. The book interrogates the layers of authority and mediation inherent in women's production of texts and argues for a complex appreciation of authorial agency. Finally, the Introduction summarizes the arguments of each chapter.
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