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CRITICAL CONTEXTS

Scholars, students and readers of women's poetry in the present day are inevitably indebted to the careful and tenacious researches of a number of earlier commentators. Cora Kaplan's critical anthology Salt and Bitter and Good: Three Centuries of English and American Women Poets, first published in 1975, was innovative and influential in its selection of the work of a range of otherwise overlooked women writers from Anne Bradstreet and Katherine Philips through Felicia Hemans and Christina Rossetti to Louise Bogan, Stevie Smith and Sylvia Plath. Appearing at around the same time as Kaplan's book was Louise Bernikow's The World Split Open: Women Poets 1552–1950 (published in the US in 1974 and the UK in 1979). The book is frank in its aims. As the first sentence of the prefatory 'Editor's Note' explains: 'I have tried in this book to uncover a lost tradition in English and American poetry' In this respect both Bernikow's book and Kaplan's belong alongside the simultaneous work of Ellen Moers, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Elaine Showalter and numerous others in bringing to light hitherto silenced and unknown women writers. In the decade which followed these pioneering collections of primary sources came a number of books whose aim was to explicate their significance, specifically from a feminist perspective. In the United States, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar

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