The poetics of sisterly celebrity: Sarah Hale, British women poets and the gift of American fame

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    Abstract

    This essay explores the celebrity of British women poets in early nineteenth-century America, when print culture on both sides of the Atlantic encouraged and catered for the desire of readers for ever-closer relationships with poets by commercially circulating and disseminating their poems, biographical information and visual representations. It focuses on Sarah Josepha Hale’s participation and intervention in these cultural mechanisms by examining her gift book The Ladies’ Wreath: A Selection from the Female Poetic Writers of England and America (1837) and, in particular, its expanded second edition (1839). Reinforcing while also complicating celebrations of women poets in this period as figures associated with gentility, domesticity, sentiment and ideals of femininity, Hale draws on the discourse of fame and celebrity to underline women poets’ achievements and professionalization and the diversity, variety and intellectuality of their poems, and to position British and American women poets and readers within a transatlantic poetic sisterhood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-33
    Number of pages13
    JournalComparative American Studies
    Volume14
    Issue number1
    Early online date9 Aug 2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2016

    Keywords

    • women’s poetry
    • poetess
    • transatlantic
    • Felicia Hemans
    • Sarah Josepha Hale
    • gift books
    • celebrity

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