Introductory Tour - finding information in CW3

This is an introductory tour to the Corvey Women Writers on the Web site and the facilities it offers.

Click on the links in this tour, and pages from CW3 will appear on the right to illustrate the tour. The right-hand pane shows actual pages from CW3, so you can continue to explore CW3 from within that pane if you wish to.

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Finding information in CW3

There are two ways to find information within CW3 - the alphabetic 'Author Index' and the search facility.

Alphabetic Author Index

The alphabetic Author Index at the top-right of each page allows you to search CW3 according to author.

Say you want to check on Jane Porter, a writer active from 1803 to the 1820s, who has been attracting information as a pioneer of the historical novel.

When you are within the CW3 site, click on the 'P' in the alphabetic Author Index, and a list of authors whose names start with P will be displayed. In the list of authors, click on the entry for Porter, Jane to go to the Author Page of Jane Porter.

On Jane Porter's author page we have a rather curious portrait of her (from the 1840 edition of The Scottish Chieftains, her most famous work), a list of works by her which can be found in the Corvey Collection - the majority of her publications; then a list of contributions to CW3 on Porter (at time of writing, these are all by Fiona Price); then four items from contemporary journals - two memoirs and two reviews (contributed by Julie Shaffer).

If you click on a title in the list you will go to a dedicated book page. Again there is a variety of information, though not all book pages have yet got extra contents. For Thaddeus of Warsaw there is a facsimile title page (over 200 have been added to the database in the past year); bibliographic information, publisher, pagination, ISBN; a rudimentary keyword description, and a synopsis - we aim ultimately to be able to include synopses and keyword descriptions for all the works.

Searching

The other way to find information is through the search page.

There are quite a number of options, permitting specialised searches. A title search can be used to take you to the book page of a specific title if you know what the title (or part of it) is. But you can also use the title option to search for a keyword in the title, for instance, 'Europe'. This makes a short but intriguing result, featuring: one of the most successful authors of the period, Catherine Gore; Anne Elwood, who believed herself to be the first woman to make the journey overland through Europe to India; and two complete unknowns, Frances Jamieson and Maria Scott.

It is also possible to find out what works were published in a specific year, or span of years. If you were to ask which books or editions were published 200 years ago - in 1801 - you would see an unfamiliar scene: 28 works by 26 authors, with the prolific bestsellers Mary Meeke and Eliza Parsons very evident. Edgeworth is there with the 3rd edition of Castle Rackrent - do you recognise any of the other authors? The titles provide some guide to the popularity of fictional sub-genres.

Another interesting line of enquiry enabled by the database is the publisher pick-list, which can be used in conjunction with the date option, for instance. We hope that the database will be as useful for the light it throws on the print culture of the time, such as developments in the publishing industry, as for the recovery of individual authors or interesting works of literature. We know that the Minerva Press, the imprint of William Lane, was the top publisher of fiction and female authors in this decade. If we select Lane, the results for 1801 confirm this: 12 out of the 28 works found above. Apart from this it is a strikingly varied not to say fractured scene, with 12 other mainly small publishers, none of them putting out more than 2 of the novels in the collection. The most prestigious alternative to Minerva seems to have been Joseph Johnson, the old friend of Godwin and Wollstonecraft. Not only does he have Edgeworth, already a critically acclaimed author, but also the sole novel by Anne Damer, an aristocratic dilettante, related to Horace Walpole and a friend of the Duchess of Devonshire.

Finally, there is the keywords section. Ultimately we hope this will provide a useful guide to scholars trying to navigate the collection with specific research interests in mind. There is already quite a number of options in each category, but at the moment the search results will be anything but comprehensive. Choosing a keyword, for instance 'Genoa' in the category 'Settings', will lead to just one text: Ada Reis by Caroline Lamb, with keywords provided by Leigh Wetherall. We are constantly adding new material and data produced by staff and students at Sheffield Hallam University, but this seems a good place to re-emphasise the collaborative nature of the project. If you happen to be studying a novel or play or book of poetry, represented in the collection, please think about sending a set of keywords or a synopsis, and helping to put the work back on the critical map.