Mary Robinson’s A Letter to the Women of England (1799) is a radical response to the rampant anti-feminist sentiment of the late 1790s. In this work, Robinson encourages her female contemporaries to throw off the “glittering shackles” of custom and to claim their rightful places as the social and intellectual equals of men.
Separately published in the same year, Robinson’s novel The Natural Daughter follows the story of Martha Morley, who defies her husband’s authority, adopts a found infant, is barred from her husband’s estate and is driven to seek work as an actress and author. The novel implicitly links and critiques domestic tyrants in England and Jacobin tyrants in France.
This edition also includes: other writings by Mary Robinson (tributes, and an excerpt from The Progress of Liberty); writings by contemporaries on women, society, and revolution; and contemporary reviews of both works.
“This intelligent pairing of Mary Robinson’s two last finished works, supplemented with wonderful notes and appendices, reminds us of how her insistently radical politics drive her satiric fiction. It also makes a persuasive case for her significance in the wild career of the novel in this period. At turns outrageous, witty, and sentimental, Robinson is at the top of her powers here.” — Mary Favret, Indiana University – Bloomington
“This edition, with Sharon M. Setzer’s insightful introduction, chronology, and several bold and relevant appendicies, situates Mary Robinson’s writings informatively for scholarly and general audiences alike.” — Moira Ferguson, University of Missouri, Kansas City