Clio: The Autobiography of Martha Fowke Sansom, 1689-1736

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University of Delaware Press, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 210 pages
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This book presents for the modern reader Martha Fowke Sansom's autobiography Clio, an important document for our understanding of early women writers. Written in 1723, when she was in her mid-thirties, but not published until 1752, Clio offers an engaging and illuminating account of an independent woman writer who is remarkably frank about her attitudes to love and marriage. Although the work can be read simply and enjoyably for its own sake, this annotated edition provides a wealth of material that puts this fascinating text in its social and literary context. In Clio Fowke gives a careful analysis of the factors that formed her as a writer: her father's encouragement, her role as the composer of his love letters, the reading of romances, schooling, exposure to writers ranging from Ovid to Abraham Cowley, and later, an enthusiastic plunge into the work of Shakespeare. She documents aspects of social life, everything from petty annoyances to grand dramas of passion. The late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries saw widespread changes in social attitudes, and many women briefly saw the possibility of new ambitions for personal liberty, achievement, and the pursuit of happiness. Fowke's account of her life and its context illuminate this historical moment. The work details with flair, skill, irony, and passion a woman's sense of her self as a writer, as well as her emotional, social, and sexual experience. Clio is a lively, even comic, narrative, full of precise detail about social interactions. Fowke's confident presentation of self contains much to challenge assumptions about eighteenth-century women.

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Family and Upbringing
Fowke and Her Social Context
Fowke and Sexuality
Fowke and Eliza Haywood
Fowke and Aaron Hill
Fowke as Mrs Sansom
Clio as Text
Textual Note
Or A Secret History of the Life and Amours of the Late celebrated Mrs SNM
Explanatory Notes
Letters and Poems of Aaron Hill to Martha Fowke Sansom
Eliza Haywoods Attack on Martha Fowke in Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia

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Page 201 - She pretends, however, to have an intimate acquaintance with the Muses — has judgment .enough to know that ease and please make a Rhyme, and to count ten Syllables on her Fingers. — This is the Stock with which she sets up for a Wit, and among some ignorant Wretches passes for such; but with People of true Understanding, nothing affords more subject of ridicule, than that incoherent Stuff which she calls Verses.
Page 204 - Person receiv'da more than common Injury from him, thro' the Instigations of that female Fury; but yet continuing to acknowledge his good Qualities, and pitying his falling into the contrary, took no other Revenge...
Page 210 - Court tales ; or, A history of the amours of the present nobility.

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