Mothers of the Novel and their Daughters: The Pandora Press series
after thirty years

Pandora CoversMany of the attendees to the first British Women Writers Conference in Seattle, Washington arrived bearing novels with distinctive white covers. The Pandora Press published their first reprints of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels by women in 1986, entitling their series “Mothers of the Novel.” Dale Spender’s accompanying critical volume added a telling subtitle: “100 good women writers before Jane Austen.” Mary Brunton’s Discipline (1810) and Self-Control (1815), Maria Edgeworth’s Patronage (1814), Eliza Haywood’s The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1752), and Amelia Opie’s Adeline Mowbray (1805) were among the first novels to appear. Another fourteen titles followed between 1987 and 1989, with both scholars and popular women writers providing introductions to the volumes. Jeannette Winterson’s first sentence introducing Opie’s Adeline Mowbray announces that “When mothers who are ordinary encourage their daughters to be extraordinary there’s bound to be trouble.”

This roundtable will address the critical history of the fourteen novelists and twenty volumes published by Pandora over the past thirty years, a particularly fertile period in feminist literary scholarship. In addition to papers on specific authors and novels, I’d like to invite considerations of the nomenclature of generations used by the Pandora Press, as well as papers on the still fraught relationship between Jane Austen and her contemporaries.

If you are interested in having your work considered for this roundtable, please contact Roxanne Eberle, Associate Professor of English at The University of Georgia. Please send proposals to eberle@uga.edu with the subject line: BWWC Roundtable Proposal.

Complete List with Pandora Press publication date:

Mary Brunton, Discipline (1986) and Self-Control (1986)

Frances Burney, The Wanderer; or Female Difficulties (1988)

Maria Edgeworth, Belinda (1986), Helen (1987) and Patronage (1986)

Eliza Fenwick, Secresy; or The Ruin on the Rock (1989)

Sarah Fielding, Governess; or, Little Female Academy (1987)

Mary Hamilton, Munster Village (1987)

Eliza Haywood, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1986)

Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (1987)

Mary Hays, Memoirs of Emma Courtney (1987)

Harriet and Sophia Lee, Canterbury Tales (1989)

Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote; or, The Adventures of Arabela (1986)

Amelia Opie, Adeline Mowbray (1986)

Lady Morgan (Sydney Owenson), The O’Briens and the O’Flahertys (1988)and The Wild Irish Girl (1986)

Frances Sheridan, Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1987): Intro. Sue Townsend

Charlotte Smith, Emmeline; the orphan of the castle (1988) and The Old Manor House (1987)

Image courtesy of Patrick Spedding, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia