Mary Davys: Self-Presentation and the Woman Writer's Reputation in the Early Eighteenth Century
Mary Davys, the Anglo-Irish writer who lived from 1674-1732, provides an interesting case-study on the pressures and expectations a woman writer experienced in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Her period was transitional: while one can trace in it the beginnings of the acceptability of the professional woman writer, her role was still circumscribed by the professional/private dichotomy, in which the public role was tainted by its connection with Behn, Manley and Haywood. By examining Davys's writings, particularly her prefaces and dedications, I demonstrate the way in which she molds her self-presentation to present an acceptable persona: despite being a professional writer and an Irishwoman, she insists that she is a respectable member of society, loyal to the king and the Church of England; and although she is a woman, she represents herself as a competent and an adept writer. In the contradictions, as well as in the excessive flattery of the early dedications, she reveals the pressures of her situation.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Bowden, Mary F. "Mary Davys: Self-Presentation and the Woman Writer's Reputation in the Early Eighteenth Century." Women's Writing 3.1 (1996) 17-33.