The Business of a Woman: The Political Writings of Delarivier Manley

The Business of a Woman: The Political Writings of Delarivier Manley

The Business of a Woman: The Political Writings of Delarivier Manley

The Business of a Woman: The Political Writings of Delarivier Manley

Synopsis

The Business of a Woman is the first full-length study of Delarivier Manley, the increasingly important early modern scandal writer, journalist, and propagandist whose most famous work is The New Atalantis (1709). The book focuses on her importance in the fields of political journalism and propaganda, and considers Manley's writing in terms of her importance to the Tory/Whig party conflict and other contemporary writers and pamphleteers. There is a detailed analysis of Manley's literary relationships with key figures such as Jonathan Swift and Richard Steele, and a full consideration of her political networks, including her working relationship with the Oxford ministry of 1710-1714.

Excerpt

In 1714 Delarivier Manley declared that “Politicks is not the Business of a Woman.” It is hard to take this statement at face value. If there was any woman who had made politics her business during the previous decade, it was surely Manley herself, England’s first professional woman political journalist. Manley was undoubtedly being ingenuous. She had been reminiscing on her literary output, and, as if to give the lie to her own words, she continued by saying that she was ashamed of her work, “saving that Part by which she pretended to serve her Country, and the ancient Constitution.” Perhaps her comments were meant to show a bitter edge to her memory of the efforts she had expended in support of her beloved Tories. For she also asked herself, “Who bid her write? What good did she do? Could not she sit quiet as well as her Neighbours, and not meddle her self about what did not concern her?

It is my intention to suggest answers to these questions by examining Manley’s writing in the context of contemporary parliamentary politics. Through a consideration of the techniques she uses, I will discuss how innovative they are; by looking at her methods and comparing them to the contemporary conventions she followed, I will show how she developed them to achieve specific polemical goals. This process of contextualization is not only fascinating if one considers Manley’s development as a writer; it is essential if we are to measure her achievement as a leading figure among the propagandists of the reign of Queen Anne. And since I will be arguing the case for an increased recognition of her importance within that community, and also as a political . . .

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