Anne Larsen, professor of French at Hope College, has published with Garland Publishing in New York and London the collection "Writings by Pre-Revolutionary French Women. From Marie de France to Elizabeth Vigée-Le Brun."
Co-edited with Colette Winn from Washington
University in Saint Louis, the 592-page volume includes
English translations of selected works of 30 women writers
from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century. The
majority of the works are appearing in translation for the
According to Larsen, the authors range from those
prominent because of their social position or literary fame
to those slowly becoming part of a new canon of Old Regime
women writers: authors whose works were known to their
contemporaries but who have slipped into near invisibility
in the following centuries until their recent rediscovery
The authors either wrote in literary genres viewed
as best suited for women, such as pedagogical treatises and
devotional poetry, or adopted genres upon which they left
their mark. The most popular genres in the volume are
memoirs, autobiography and letters.
The content of the works varies greatly. They
range from the courtly poetry of the 12th-century Marie de
France, to political pamphlets containing virulent attacks
against Robespierre's reign of terror by the late 18th-
century feminist Olympe de Gouges.
Each of the 30 contributors has prefaced his or
her translation with an essay on the life and works of the
writer, and follows it with a bibliography.