Eliza Fenwick: Early Modern Feminist

Cover: Eliza Fenwick: Early Modern Feminist
Lissa Paul

May 2019 • ISBN 9781644530092 • $102.95

May 2019 • ISBN 9781644530108 • $46.95

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Early Modern Feminisms

Eliza Fenwick is the previously untold story of the life of an extraordinary woman who paved her own unique path throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as she made her way from country to country, from working as a writer to becoming a teacher and school owner. Author Lissa Paul brings to light Fenwick’s letters for the first time to show the relationships she developed with many key figures of her time, and to tell Fenwick’s story as depicted by the woman herself. She began as a writer in the radical London of the 1790s, in Mary Wollstonecraft’s circle, and when her marriage crumbled, she became a prolific author of children’s literature to support her family. Fenwick eventually moved to Barbados, becoming the owner of a school, while confronting the reality of slavery in the British Colonies. She would go on to establish schools in numerous cities in the U.S. and Canada, all the while taking care of her daughter and grandchildren. Despite enduring financial hardship, a broken marriage, and the deaths of her son, her daughter, and her two eldest grandsons, Eliza’s riveting letters attest to her intelligence, grace, and persistence as she moved across the world in search of self-sufficiency.

About the Author

Lissa Paul is Professor of Education at Brock University and the author of The Children’s Book Business: Lessons from the Long Eighteenth Century.

Reviews of 'Eliza Fenwick: Early Modern Feminist'

Fenwick’s life was an odyssey—and Paul makes it a powerful story. The sheer wealth and richness of her research…are stunning. This is not just a book to consult. It is a book to read.
- William McCarthy, Iowa State University
Eliza Fenwick is a tour-de-force archival achievement that will challenge intersectional feminists for years to come.
- Samara Anne Cahill, Navajo Technical University
Paul’s text reads as part personal history and part historical adventure novel, where both biographer and subject feature as important characters.
- Jessica Banner, University of Ottawa
The book’s seven chapters...are in chronological order, punctuated with flashbacks and flashforwards, and they accentuate Fenwick’s industry and her remarkable capacity for self-(re)invention. Small wonder that Paul finds her so inspiring, but Paul is no less so herself.
- Tom Ue, Dalhousie University