…By a Partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian*

At the 2015 Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) AGM in Kentucky, our Founder and the Chair of our Board of Trustees, Dr Sandy Lerner, OBE, unveiled a timeline of women’s writing which she had composed looking at key moments and writers from the past.

It examined Chawton House Library’s place in, and contribution to, the writing of women’s literary history, highlighting the unique volumes in our library collection and our Novels-on-Line project.  While the main purpose of the timeline was to illustrate the rich and long history of women’s writing prior to and during Jane Austen’s life-time, the graphic presentation attracted general viewers and comments.

The time-line proved very popular at JASNA, prompting many attendees to reconsider Austen’s position within the context of women’s writing through the centuries.  By highlighting the unique books in the collection at Chawton House Library, the work generated a long and much-appreciated list of people who wished to help us make these rare texts available to readers and scholars through the Novels-on-Line project – thank you to all of these supporters. The origin of CHL’s The Female Spectator was much discussed, as well as the centuries of women’s fiction that preceded the well-known and long-studied male writers like Daniel Defoe and Henry Fielding, such as Henry’s sister Sarah, and Defoe’s associate, Eliza Haywood.

Women have had a long, colourful, and successful history as writers.  Come celebrate our past, and contribute to our future – and do look out for Sandy’s timeline at the JASNA AGM in Washington DC this October!

Timeline of Women Writers

[PDF, 2.4MB]

*When Jane Austen was fifteen years old, she wrote The History of England from the reign of Henry the 4th to the death of Charles the 1st By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian, which poked fun at schoolroom history books and ridiculed historians’ pretensions of objectivity.