Epistles On Women and Other Works
  • Publication Date: October 18, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551117133 / 1551117134
  • 216 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Epistles On Women and Other Works

  • Publication Date: October 18, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551117133 / 1551117134
  • 216 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Henry James wrote of Lucy Aikin: “Clever, sagacious, shrewd … and an accomplished writer, one wonders why her vigorous intellectual temperament has not attracted independent notice.” The most important long poem by a woman from the British Romantic era, Aikin’s Epistles on Women (1810) is the first text in English to re-write the entire history of western culture, from the creation story of Genesis through the eighteenth century, from a feminist perspective. Responding to Alexander Pope’s misogynistic “Epistle to a Lady,” Aikin argues that men’s degradation of women has hindered the growth of civilization, and provides historical and literary evidence for her claim that “man cannot degrade woman without degrading himself.”

In addition to Epistles on Women, this Broadview Edition also includes a wide selection of poetry, historical writing, fiction, memoir, and literary criticism by Aikin, as well as letters, contemporary reviews, and other feminist historiographies.


“This excellent edition of Aikin’s first poem, delineating beliefs to which she subscribed her whole life, firmly situates her work between Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘equality feminism’ and Anna Letitia Barbauld’s essentialism. The edition is a must-have for courses in nineteenth-century literature as well as in feminism.” — Laura Mandell, Miami University of Ohio

“Lucy Aikin is becoming increasingly recognised as a key figure in religious Dissent and women’s writing of the Romantic period, and the meticulous scholarship of Anne K. Mellor and Michelle Levy makes her work readily accessible for the first time. They provide a superb introduction to Aikin’s broader context and biography; their full annotations and contemporary material will make this book a useful teaching resource. This is also, however, an important piece of research and recovery: a splendid edition that helps us to understand the scope of Aikin’s achievements as poet, historian, biographer, children’s author, and critic.” — Felicity James, University of Leicester

Please note that additional selections and appendix materials
for this edition are available on an auxiliary website, located
at www.sfu.ca/~mnl/aikin/epistlesonline.pdf/.

Lucy Aikin: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Epistles on Women and Other Works

  1. Poetry
    1. Epistles on the Character and Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations.With Miscellaneous Poems
      • Introduction
        Epistle I
        Epistle II
        Epistle III
        Epistle IV
    2. From Epistles on the Character and Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations.With Miscellaneous Poems
      (1810) [ONLINE]
      • “Cambria, an Ode”
        “Dirge for the Late James Currie, M.D., of Liverpool”
        “Sonnet to Fortune. From Metastasio”
        “To Mr. Montgomery. Occasioned by an Illiberal Attack on his Poems”
        “The Swiss Emigrant”
        “Midnight Thoughts”
        “To the Memory of the Late Rev. Gilbert Wakefield”
        “On Seeing the Sun Shine in at my Window for the First Time in the Year”
        “On Seeing Blenheim Castle”
        “Ode to Ludlow Castle”
    3. From The Annual Register (1812) [ONLINE]
      • “The Balloon”
    4. From Poetry for Children (1801) [ONLINE]
      • “The Beggar Man”
        “Prince Leeboo”
    5. From Mary Ann Humble’s Autograph Album
      • “Written in an Alcove at Allerton” [ONLINE]
  1. Histories
    1. From Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth (1818)
    2. From Memoirs of the Court of King James the First (1822) [ONLINE]
    3. From Memoirs of the Court of King Charles the First (1833) [ONLINE]
  1. Fiction
    1. From Lorimer:A Tale (1814)
  1. Family Memoirs
    1. From Memoir of John Aikin, M.D. (1823)
    2. From “Memoir of Anna Lætitia Barbauld” (1825)
  1. Literary Criticism and Biography
    1. Review of William Wordsworth, Poems in Two Volumes (1807)
    2. Review of Lord Byron’s Hours of Idleness (1807)
    3. Review of The Life of William Roscoe (July 1833) [ONLINE]
    4. From The Life of Joseph Addison (1843) [ONLINE]
    5. “Recollections of Joanna Baillie” (1864) [ONLINE]
  1. Essays
    1. From “Words upon Words” (1864)
  1. Children’s Literature
    1. From Poetry for Children (1801)
    2. From “On the Spirit of Aristocracy” (1864)
    3. From Juvenile Correspondence (1811) [ONLINE]
    4. From Mary Godolphin, Robinson Crusoe in Words of One Syllable (1882) [ONLINE]

Appendix A: Selected Letters

  1. To Mrs.Taylor (July 1806)
  2. To Mrs.Taylor (August 1816)
  3. To Anna [Letitia] (Aikin) Le Breton (5 July 1824)
  4. To Rev. Dr. Channing (28 May 1828)
  5. To Anna [Letitia] (Aikin) Le Breton (12 August 1830)
  6. To Rev. Dr. Channing (28 June 1831)
  7. To Rev. Dr. Channing (6 September 1831)
  8. To Rev. Dr. Channing (7 April 1832)
  9. To Rev. Dr. Channing (15 October 1832)
  10. To Rev. Dr. Channing (14 October 1837)
  11. To Rev. Dr. Channing (18 April 1838)

Appendix B: Selected Reviews of Epistles on Women

  1. European Magazine (July 1811)
  2. Monthly Review (April 1811)
  3. Belfast Monthly Magazine (August 1810)
  4. Poetical Register (1810–11)
  5. Critical Review (August 1811)
  6. Eclectic Review (November 1810)
  7. Henry James, “Review of Correspondence of William Ellery Channing and Lucy Aikin 1826–1842,”
    Atlantic Monthly (March 1875)

Appendix C: Contexts for Epistles on Women

  1. From Juvenal, Satires
  2. From Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Germania
  3. From John Milton, Paradise Lost (1750) [LONGER EXCERPT ONLINE]
  4. From Alexander Pope, Epistles to Several Persons, “Epistle II:To a Lady on the Characters of
    Women” (1735) [LONGER EXCERPT ONLINE]
  5. From Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) [LONGER EXCERPT ONLINE]
  6. From Anna Lætitia Aikin Barbauld, “The Rights of Women” (1825)
  7. From Richard Polwhele, The Unsex’d Females, A Poem (1798)

Appendix D: Contexts for Aikin’s Feminist Historiography

  1. From Catherine Macaulay, Observations on the Reflections of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke (1791)
  2. From Mary Hays, Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries
  3. From Elizabeth Benger, Memoirs of the Life of Anne Boleyn (1821)
  4. From William Alexander, The History of Women, from the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time (1779)

Selected Bibliography

Michelle Levy is Associate Professor of English at Simon Fraser University.