Grace Aguilar: Selected Writings
  • Publication Date: April 7, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551113777 / 1551113775
  • 415 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Grace Aguilar: Selected Writings

  • Publication Date: April 7, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551113777 / 1551113775
  • 415 pages; 5½" x 8½"

For the first time in over a century, this edition makes available the work of the most important Jewish writer in early and mid-Victorian Britain. Grace Aguilar (1816-1847) broke new literary ground by writing from the unique perspective of an Anglo-Jewish woman. Aguilar’s writing responds to English representations of Jews and women by writers such as Felicia Hemans, Maria Edgeworth, Sir Walter Scott, and Thomas Macaulay. She both assimilates and alters the genres of historical romance, dramatic monologue, domestic fiction, history, and midrash, among others.

This edition includes Aguilar’s novella The Perez Family in its entirety; the Sephardic historical romance “The Escape,” her Sephardic historical romance, “History of the Jews in England,” the first such history ever written by a Jew; major poems; excerpts from The Women of Israel; and Aguilar’s Frankfurt journal, never before published. Also included are primary source materials such as writings on “the Jewish question” from Aguilar’s non-Jewish contemporaries, tributes and memoirs, and contemporary responses to her work.


“This well-conceived edition makes an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of Anglo-Jewish literature and culture in the early Victorian era. Michael Galchinsky’s introductions and notes (as well as excellently chosen appended materials that in several cases reprint long unavailable works by other writers) place Aguilar’s writing in its often overlapping Romantic, Victorian, and Jewish contexts to restore an important voice to literary history.” — Meri-Jane Rochelson, Florida International University

“Michael Galchinsky’s splendid edition of Grace Aguilar’s work, long out of print, revives the founder of Anglo-Jewish literature; the significance of her novels, poems, histories, and theological work cannot be overestimated. His rich and incisive introduction, incorporating valuable original scholarship, examines Aguilar’s energetic warfare as an Anglo-Jewish woman writer in both Anglo-Christian and Anglo-Jewish patriarchal worlds and sheds much new light on the trans-Atlantic Jewish connection. Ancillary materials, as well as expert notes, deftly shape out Aguilar’s literary and religious environment.” — Daniel A. Harris, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

“Making available the work of the first Anglo-Jewish woman writer, this is a welcome and timely anthology. Michael Galchinsky’s detailed introduction provides an excellent account of the contexts in which Grace Aguilar wrote, as a Sephardic Jew during the period of debates about religious equality and religious reform and as a published woman writer during the heyday of ‘separate spheres’ ideology. Aguilar’s writing on domestic womanhood and Jewish female education, her Jewish historical fiction, and her religious poetry offer a fascinating example of the appropriation and adaptation by a Jewish writer of mainstream Victorian literary genres.” — Nadia Valman, University of Southampton, UK


  • Significance
    Literary and Historical Contexts
    Critical Reception

Grace Aguilar: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

I. Fiction

  • “The Escape”
    “The Perez Family”
    “The Spirit of Night”

II. Poetry

  • “Sabbath Thoughts III”
    “An Hour of Peace”
    “A Poet’s Dying Hymn”
    “Song of the Spanish Jews, During their ‘Golden Age’”
    “A Vision of Jerusalem, While Listening to a Beautiful Organ in one of the Gentile Shrines”
    “The Address to the Ocean”
    “The Hebrew’s Appeal, On Occasion of the Late Fearful Ukase Promulgated by the Emperor of Russia”
    “Dialogue Stanzas”
    “The Wanderers”
    “The Rocks of Elim”

III. Non-Fiction Prose
from The Spirit of Judaism

  • [Our Hearts Must Breathe from Our Lips]
    [The Bible as Foundation and Defense]
    [The Hebrew’s Neglect of the Bible]
    [A Minority’s Faith and Observance]
    [Hints on the Religious Instruction of the Hebrew
    [The Significance of the Hebrew Language]
    [The Value of Profane History and Fiction]
    [The Spirit and the Forms of Judaism
    Considered Separately and Together]

from The Women of Israel

  • “Introduction”

from The Jewish Faith
from Sabbath Thoughts and Sacred Communings

  • “Preface”
    “Morning Meditation”
    “Prayer for the Government of the Thoughts”
    From “The Prophecies of Isaiah”

“History of the Jews in England”

Appendix A: Victorian Tributes

  1. Testimonial from the Misses Levison and Isaacs
  2. Abraham Benisch, Obituary
  3. Isaac Leeser, Obituary
  4. Athenaeum, Obituary
  5. Tribute by the Ladies Of the Society for the
    Religious Instruction Of Jewish Youth, Charleston
  6. Marion Hartog,“Lines Written on the Death of
    Grace Aguilar”
  7. Anna Maria Hall, From “A Pilgrimage to the Grave of
    Grace Aguilar”
  8. Rebecca Gratz, Letters to Miriam Gratz Cohen

Appendix B: Victorian Criticism

  1. Isaac Leeser,“Editor’s Preface” to Spirit of Judaism
  2. Jacob Franklin, Review of Spirit of Judaism, from Voice of Jacob
  3. Review of The Women of Israel, from Athenaeum
  4. Review of Home Influence, from Howitt’s Journal
  5. Abraham Benisch, Review of Imrei Lev, from Jewish Chronicle
  6. Sarah Aguilar, Correspondence with Miriam and Solomon Cohen on Sabbath Thoughts and Sacred Communings

Appendix C: Romantic and Victorian Reflections on “The Jewish Question”

  1. George Gordon, Lord Byron,“Jephthah’s Daughter” (1815)
  2. Walter Scott, From Ivanhoe (1819)
  3. William Wordsworth,“The Jewish Family” (1828)
  4. Thomas Babington Macaulay, from “Speech on Jewish Disabilities” (1831)
  5. Sarah Stickney Ellis, from Women of England (1838)
  6. Felicia Hemans,“The Song of Miriam” (1839)

Appendix D: Victorian Jewish Writers

  1. Morris Raphall,“ldquo;The Sun and the Moon” (1834)
  2. Marion and Celia Moss, from Early Efforts (1839)
  3. Abraham Benisch,“Our Women” (1861)

Appendix E: Aguilar’s Frankfurt Journal

Select Bibliography

Michael Galchinsky is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta.