Skip to main content

Lost Property

The Woman Writer and English Literary History, 1380-1589

The English literary canon is haunted by the figure of the lost woman writer. In our own age, she has been a powerful stimulus for the rediscovery of works written by women. But as Jennifer Summit argues, "the lost woman writer" also served as an evocative symbol during the very formation of an English literary tradition from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries.
Lost Property traces the representation of women writers from Margery Kempe and Christine de Pizan to Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, exploring how the woman writer became a focal point for emerging theories of literature and authorship in English precisely because of her perceived alienation from tradition. Through original archival research and readings of key literary texts, Summit writes a new history of the woman writer that reflects the impact of such developments as the introduction of printing, the Reformation, and the rise of the English court as a literary center.
A major rethinking of the place of women writers in the histories of books, authorship, and canon-formation, Lost Property demonstrates that, rather than being an unimaginable anomaly, the idea of the woman writer played a key role in the invention of English literature.

284 pages | 10 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2000

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
The Early Woman Writer and the Uses of Loss
1 Following Corinne: Chaucer’s Classical Women Writers
"Evir wemenis frend"
Dido’s Poetics of Absence
Following Corinne: Anelida and the "Lost" Woman Writer
Refiguring Criseyde
2 The City of Ladies in the Library of Gentlemen: Christine de Pizan in England, 1450-1526
Lost in Translation
The Learned Knight and the Fiction of "Dame Christine"
From "Aucteresse" to Auctor: The Morale Proverbes of Caxton and Pynson
The City of Ladies in the Library of Gentlemen
3 The Reformation of the Woman Writer
English Literary History and the Pious Woman
The Fifteen Oes and the Reformation of Devotion
Margery Kempe as "Devout Anchoress": Henry Pepwell’s Edition of 1521
John Bale’s Protestant Bibliography and the Lost History of Women
Bentley’s Monument of Matrones (1582) and the Recovery of Women’s Prayer
4 "A Ladies Penne": Elizabeth I and the Art of English Poetry
"With Lady Sapphoes Pen"
"The Arte of a Ladies Penne"
The Poetics of Queenship
The Covert Place of Women’s Writing
"Chère Soeur": The Queen of England and the Queen of Scots
Literary History without Women


Modern Language Association: MLA Prize for a First Book
Honorable Mention

Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship: Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship First Book Prize

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press