We are delighted to announce that Women Writers Online (WWO) will once again be free during the month of March in celebration of Women’s History Month. The collection contains more than 420 texts written and translated by women, and published between 1526 and 1850.
We also invite you to explore our other publications, which are always open access. These include Women Writers in Review (WWiR), a collection of close to 700 reviews of and responses to works in WWO, and Women Writers in Context (WWiC), a collection of essays exploring topics related to early women’s writing.
If you haven’t visited WWO before, there are multiple ways to discover new texts. For example, you can filter through texts based on genre and publication year or use the search bar to look for specific keywords. You can also browse themes and topics from WWiR or WWiC because both collections link back to the texts in WWO.
To provide one more way to help people get started with WWO, we’ve included some of our favorite texts below.
If you’d like to read a memoir, there are quite a few in WWO, including several by and about women of color. Check out A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, and the Memoir of Mrs. Chloe Spear.
A Little Romance
There are many romances in WWO, including Mary Wroth’s Urania, which has adventure, betrayal, a lost princess, and pirates. If you enjoy reading about reformed rakes, moonlight seductions, and mistaken identities, we have all three volumes of Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess. Or, for a bit of satire on romance, check out Sarah Green’s Romance Readers and Romance Writers, whose author exclaims:
Would that, like the monster Briareus, I could strike a hundred blows in the same instant, and that all the vampers of romance, who merit annihilation, were in my presence!—they are the vermin of literature—their spawn creep to our fire-sides, and cover our tables, our chairs, our sofas and our mantle-pieces; we find them in the bed-chambers of our daughters; nay, not unfrequently are they placed beneath their pillows, to occupy their minds at day-break, or to beguile a sleepless night.
Talking Birds and Cherry Orchards
We have several works of children’s fiction, including Sarah Trimmer’s Fabulous Histories, which has a family of talking robins, and Maria Edgeworth’s The Little Dog Trusty; the Orange Man; and the Cherry Orchard, which teaches, among other lessons, that “Cunning people, though they think themselves very wise, are almost always very silly.”
A Cook’s Guide
Maybe you’d like to try a new recipe — if so, you should check out Hannah Woolley’s Cook’s Guide. Here’s just one example of its delicious contents:
To make little Apple paſties to fry. Take pared Apples and cut them into ſmall pieces to ſtew, ſtew them to papp with claret wine and ſpice, then put in a good piece of ſweet butter, cinnamon, ginger, roſe-water, ſugar and plumped currans; then put them into the puff-paſte and fry them, ſo ſerve them in with ſugar.
A Fall River Murder
Looking for a bit of true crime? We have two texts on a local murder case: Mary Carr Clarke’s play, Sarah Maria Cornell, or the Fall River Murder and Catherine Read Arnold’s history Fall River: An Authentic Narrative.
Solving Relationship Problems with Cross-dressing
Playwright Hannah Cowley answers the relationship questions you never knew you had — how to use cross-dressing to add a little spice to your life, how to manipulate your father into ordering you to marry the man of your dreams, how to get that man to want to marry you in the first place, and much more. Husband have a wandering eye? Victoria demonstrates how to dress like a man and seduce hubby’s mistress in A Bold Stroke for a Husband. If he won’t disguise himself as your dressmaker, it’s not true love. Just ask Elizabeth from Who’s the Dupe?
Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World is sometimes called the first science fiction novel; it describes a woman’s journey, by way of the north pole, to a world with Fish-men, Bear-men, and Worm-men—among quite a few others. We also have many other works by Cavendish — including her plays, historical and scientific writings, and letters.
Please feel free to suggest your own favorite texts in the comments — and we hope you enjoy the collection!Tweet