Why are women writers just beginning to be discovered? When doing a survey of literature, we learn about many different writers, however the large majority of these writers are men. We sparsely hear of women, but a few are anthologized alongside men, some including: Emily Dickenson, The Bronte sisters, and Anne Bradstreet. However, as of late, more women writers and more works are being discovered. After blowing the dirt off old volumes, diary entries, court documents, and other things to get an idea of what and how women were writing. Among their digging, they came across works by a woman named Elizabeth Singer Rowe. When researching, it became evident that her history is especially interesting because of the extensive efforts of people later in her life to try and cover up her early writing history. After researching her she has become one of the better known women authors from the 18th century. However, to her detriment, she has been classified as a pious poet. This representation is ultimately unfair to her talent, as she was so much more than a pious poet; she was a talented writer who used that talent to write in many different forms as well as subject matters, “Her poetry is both highly experimental and impressively aware of what other writers had done and were doing…” (Backscheider).
Rowe started writing at the early age of 12, and was published in the Athenian Mercury in the early 1690s. The Athenian Mercury was a periodical that different people to write to with questions to have their questions answered. What was so special about this particular periodical was that they took questions and answered them even from women,
We have received this week a very ingenious letter from a lady in the country, who desires to know whether her Sex might not send us questions as well as men, to which we answer, Yes, they may, our design being to answer all manner of Questions sent to us by either sex, that may be either useful to the publick or to particular persons. (Athenian Mercury Vol 1, No. 3)
Doing this validated women and their ideas, as well as gave them authority (Shevlow 91). Not only did it validate women as writers, it also gave such a wide range of different situations from women, that it is hard to classify women as being of a certain personality or classifying them in one group in general, “The multiplicity of correspondences renders the periodical too diversified, and the paratactic epistolary structure makes it too indeterminate, ever to construct a narrow, didactic representation of the Women Subject” (Shevlow 91). Especially in the present day, we like to look back in history and say that women were oppressed, but this was not the case at all.
Rowe was one of these writers, but she was unique in the fact that she wrote in poetry; poetry that the editors thought worthy of being published. This was incredibly important, because without this opportunity Rowe may have not been able to write poetry that would have been published. After...