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Title: Mary Hays's Female Biography : innovative, inspiring, radical, subversive
Author: Rands, Patricia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 054X
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis is a study of how Mary Hays's six volume Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries. Alphabetically Arranged (1803) extends Hays's earlier work. The volumes have often been dismissed as being apolitical and a retreat from the radical stance she had previously exhibited in, for instance, her Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in Behalf of Women (1798). Chapters investigate the increasing popularity of life writing in the eighteenth century; of how there was a strong interest in all types of lives; and of how Female Biography fits, and departs, from the genre's expectations. A discussion of a selected sample of conduct literature aimed at women is included, and Hays's rejection and polemic refute of the monolithic identity of the 'ideal' woman promulgated by such conduct literature is argued for as, in Female Biography, Hays is persistent in her insistence that women have distinct and individual characters; this is a theme that pervades all her work. One chapter is devoted to a discussion of the lengthy accounts that Hays apologises for in her Preface; these accounts enable her to thoroughly, effectively, and persistently pursue issues and themes she explored in her novels and polemical non-fiction: women's education; women's subjugation; and the abuse of power by those in authority. I suggest that Hays uses many of her accounts to expose entrenched ideas about sexual difference as prejudice and, as the genre of Biography was recommended to women as a source of moral exempla, something that Hays would have been acutely aware of, she is able insidiously to disseminate the radical and feminist politics exhibited in her earlier work to the readers of Female Biography.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available