From penury to published poet: the cultural journey of Ann Yearsley

Bowring, Barbara (2018). From penury to published poet: the cultural journey of Ann Yearsley. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Ann Yearsley (1752-1806) was a humble rural worker who sold milk for a living, but was best known as a poet. Her success in getting a significant amount of work published dismissed the contemporary notion that to be poor and uneducated precluded a life of letters. This thesis examines the constraints and repressions faced by a woman from the lower orders with a will to write. Ann Yearsley’s journey into print is framed in the context of the poet’s effective negotiation through an eighteenth-century society still rooted in gender and class ideology and restraints.
This study is distinctive in offering an updated account of an unlikely literary career. This is not a literary study of Yearsley, but offers a nuanced and critical reading of Yearsley’s poetry and correspondence to throw new light on her personal struggle to become a professional writer. This thesis concludes that Ann Yearsley was an important cultural figure in her time because she overcame the difficulties encountered by a female writer from the lower orders. In doing this she showed that a window existed for other women from the laboring classes to become published writers.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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