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Corvey 'Adopt an Author'

Maria Jane Jewsbury

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University

Contemporary Critical Reception of Maria Jane Jewsbury.

In addition to the critical reception I have used in the bibliography there is a very limited amount reviews I have found, due to the' The relative inaccessibility of the literary weeklies and monthlies of the 1820's' (Fryckstedt, 1984, 179). I found this very surprising, as I know that Jewsbury's work was seen as a little different from some other female writers at the time, she was more outspoken and 'masculine' and so I thought she would have been reviewed more. I have found more comments on Phantasmagoria than on The Three Histories which again, I have found surprising as The Three histories was more popular, although Phantasmagoria was her first work.

She received very high praise from Wordsworth as we can see in his letter to her thanking her for the dedication in Phantasmagoria. He gives her positive criticism and is very honest; he prefers her prose and critical essays to her poetry. And believes that she should be 'highly commended for the conciseness and spirit of the style (as indeed all you have written)' (Gillett 1932) She was obviously very popular at the time as in 1827 when she was beginning to recover from her illness she had to make a rule no visitors until the afternoon otherwise she would have never had any rest. (xl)

A review in the 1825 Literary Gazette, and Journal of the Belles Lettres states a similar opinion to that of Wordsworth

Most of these sketches are, we doubt not, pleasantly remembered by many of our readers…The prose is generally humorous, though sometimes pathetic; we must confess we think the author's forte lies in the former. The poetry is graceful, but in our opinion, rather stamped by the good taste, and successful imitation of a cultivated mind, than by the original inspiration of genius. (1825,68)

Although there is a slight negative comment in this introduction, a comment I agree with, Jewsbury's work was still well liked this is evident in this same review, they also mention that her work has already published in the review under anonymous so she is obviously popular.

Altogether we close these pages with a most favourable impression of the writer's talents; and shall be glad of further acquaintance with her phantoms. She is, we learn, a Miss Jewsbury, of Manchester. (1825,69)

She is mentioned considerably by Chorley in his Memorials of Mrs Hemans, he obviously regard her with great respect:

Of all Mrs Heman's literary friends one must be singled out for especial mention....because her brilliant talents and high worth have passed away without receiving the honour or exciting the regret which they deserved. This was Miss Jewsbury of whose life and writings a passing notice cannot be unwelcome. (Chorley,1836,169)


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