Women of letters writes a new history of English women's intellectual worlds using their private letters as evidence of hidden networks of creative exchange. The book argues that many women of this period engaged with a life of the mind and demonstrates the dynamic role letter-writing played in the development of ideas. Until now, it has been assumed that women's intellectual opportunities were curtailed by their confinement in the home. This book illuminates the household as a vibrant site of intellectual thought and expression. Amidst the catalogue of day-to-day news in women's letters are sections dedicated to the discussion of books, plays and ideas. Through these personal epistles, Women of letters offers a fresh interpretation of intellectual life in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, one that champions the ephemeral and the fleeting in order to rediscover women's lives and minds. -- .
Leonie Hannan is Research Fellow in the School of History and Anthropology at Queen's University, Belfast -- .
List of figures List of tables Acknowledgements List of abbreviations Introduction Part I: Women and learning 1. Getting started 2. Becoming an intellectual Part II: Putting pen to paper 3. Writing and thinking 4. Spaces for writing Part III: Hearts and minds 5. Connecting reason and emotion 6. A seedbed for change Appendix Bibliography Index -- .