Helen Maria Williams was a poet, novelist, and radical thinker deeply immersed in the political struggles of the 1790s. Her Letters Written in France is the first and most important of eight volumes chronicling the French Revolution to an England fearful of another civil war. Her twenty-six letters recounting old regime tyranny and revolutionary events provide both an apology for the Revolution and a representation of it as sublime spectacle.
“At last, a modern edition of Williams’s absorbing and familiar Letters Written in France. Fraistat and Lanser edit with tact and impeccable scholarship. Their introduction to the French Revolution is a gem in itself, an international ‘thriller’ well designed for today’s reader.” — Nanora Sweet, University of Missouri, St. Louis
“Williams’s eloquent and dramatic eye-witness account of the French Revolution, Letters Written in France, is a work central to the study of Romanticism, history, and women’s literature. Expertly edited, this splendid edition contains a brilliant, informative introduction that situates Williams in the landscape of revolutionary, literary, and women’s history, offers very helpful scholarly annotations, and is packed with contextual materials. This is another Broadview gem.” — Harriet Kramer Linkin, New Mexico State University
“Williams’s Letters Written in France offered readers in England a sympathetic view of the Revolution, which she hoped would hasten democratic reforms. This new edition will be particularly useful and accessible. Telling excerpts from Burke, Paine, and Wollstonecraft permit us to appreciate the fervor that surrounded political and social debates in the period and to assess the narrative power of Williams’s record of contemporary events. Feminists will especially appreciate the subtle analysis by Fraistat and Lanser of gender in Williams’s epistolary narrative and view of the Revolution, and cultural critics will relish the juxtaposition of reviews, letters, political polemic, and poems. This richly supplemented edition will be an invaluable resource.” — Margaret Higonnet, University of Connecticut