Work in Progress… British Women Writers

Since my blog last September, I have begun to collect copies of novels written by the seven significant women novelists who I mentioned previously.

I wrote about Aphra Behn (1640-89) in the September blog and below is an image of oak leaves in crewel work laid over a copy of Oroonoko, 1688.  The embroidery has been removed from the frame but has not yet been cut to size.

The second of these women is Eliza Haywood (1693-1756) – a quite remarkable woman.  She wrote and published over seventy works in almost every genre beginning in 1719 with the novel Love in Excess.  She is credited with being one of the founders of the novel in English.

The most remarkable fact about Eliza Haywood is that she is considered to have been the first woman who was able to earn an income from writing. As well as novels and plays she was a contributor to periodicals, an editor and a publisher.

In the image above I’ve used parchment coloured organdie, with one thread of stranded cotton.  This shows the early stages in executing the design and I have tried to imitate needle painting, a technique associated with the early 18th century.

In order to achieve some coherence throughout the whole piece, I’ve based the design for each book on oak leaves accompanied by the relevant author’s name and dates.

The Female Spectator, a monthly pamphlet, was written by Haywood in competition with Joseph Addison’s The Spectator, which was first published in 1711 and available to read in the Coffee Houses which began to appear at the beginning of the 18th century. 

The Female Spectator was the first periodical written by a woman for women.  In it Haywood wrote articles on marriage, children, reading, education and conduct.

I managed to get a 1929 copy of the book – The Female Spectator. This contains some of the articles written between1744-6 and I’ve used it to support the piece representing Eliza Haywood.

Unfortunately my copy has a fairly scathing introduction by J.B. Priestley.

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