The Women Writers Project

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“I know I have the bodie, but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and Stomach of a King, and of a King of England, too.” Elizabeth I, The Tilbury speech, 1588

I discovered this delightful quote in The Women Writers Project collection. This easy-to-access site, established in 1988, offers scholars, students, and readers an opportunity to explore little-known titles authored by women as far back as the year 1526. The project merges centuries old archival content with current advances in electronic text analysis to illuminate and examine titles like, Sarah Stone’s A Complete Practice of Midwifery (1737) or Mary Robinson’s Thoughts on the Condition of Women (1799), or travel further back to 1595 to consider, The Bridling, Saddling, and Riding of a Rich Churl in Hampshire, author unknown. Okay, yes, I had to look up “Churl”.

Front page treats include a featured quotation, an infographic displaying an analysis of content of Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure and a graph referencing texts by year and genre. You can browse the entire collection spanning 1526 – 1850 by author, title, or date. The search option is my favorite place to play, it is robust and responsive. The user can filter results further by genre (verse, fiction, non-fiction, and drama) and year. A nifty graphic timeline divided by 50 year increments displays the distribution of titles and offers another fun and immediate way to peruse your relevant results.

Announcements, upcoming events, and blog posts invite scholars to further research and investigate the work of early women writers. In addition, the WWP team actively promotes projects beyond the online collection, offering involvement in multiple grant-funded initiatives, text encoding workshops, online exhibits, and internships. Check out the Women’s Writers Project and join the movement to discover and examine this important perspective in literature. Also, learn cool new words from the 16th century.



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