Patronage and professionalism in the writings of Hannah More, Charlotte Smith and Ann Yearsley, 1770-1806
This thesis examines the changes which were occurring in the literary marketplace at the end of the eighteenth century. The place of the traditional aristocratic patrons was gradually being taken by publishers and book sellers, who were increasingly dealing with writers direct. This move away from patronage towards a new form of professionalism took place during two decades of intense political upheaval and questioning of national identity, and at a point where women writers were being seen increasingly as a natural part of literary culture. The argument is focused on three case studies of women who came to prominence in the 1780s, and explores their different experiences of life as professional writers, patrons and protegees. Their work is placed within the context of two significant political and social events; the beginnings of the movement to abolish the slave trade in 1788, and the French Revolution. In particular, the thesis enagages with the Revolution's descent into the Terror in the 1790s, and the response of British writers to this most brutal phase. Also considered are the various ways in which a literary work could be brought into print at the end of the eighteenth century, and how the three central women were able to move from one mode of publishing to another. This thesis also sets out to offer a fresh perspective on the careers of these women, and in particular to recover the reputation of Ann Yearsley as a writer of note in the 1790s. It is proposed that a broader view needs to be taken of the factors influencing literary production in the 1780s and 90s than is currently the case, and the argument is concluded with a consideration of the relationship between patronage and professionalism at the end of the eighteenth century, and an assessment of the significance of patronage in an increasingly professional literary marketplace.