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So thinking more about the previous post and Mrs Carver.

First off, was there really an advantage in appearing to be a woman in publishing in the 1790s. I did a quick count of the names in the author index in Montague Summer’s Gothic Bibliography and found that, of those names to which a gender could be readily assigned there were 309 female and 325 male. So, name-wise at least, the genders are very evenly spread.

Now obviously that is a count of genders under which the novels were published, rather than written. So under Shelton’s assumption we can’t assume an even spread in the gender of the writers themselves. It does seem to suggest however that there wasn’t a great incentive for male authors to assume the guise of females at the time.

Admittedly the timescale of the Gothic Bibliography is wider than the 1790s, it considers publications between the mid 1700s and the later 1800s, but even amongst bookd published in the 1790s there did seem to be a similar pattern.

Nor does there appear to be a female only policy at Minerva going by the lists, although there are more formal studies of the Minerva Press published which I haven’t considered and which may suggest otherwise. However, at least two Reverends and one Captain amongst others were published by Minerva at the time. 

Shelton’s evidence remains highly circumstantial based on coincidences in names and places. The foundation of his evidence appears to be that Oakendale couldn’t possibly have been written by a woman so let’s look around to find a man who could have done it. If we want to go down those gender specific roles then I would suggest equally that The Old Woman is more likely to be a woman’s book than a man’s book, that isn’t tackled in the article. But still, medical evidence aside, I’m sure that there were women authors equally capable of dreaming up the racier plotlines in Oakendale, clearly Charlotte Dacre is a prime example. Whether gender stereotyping is a sufficient foundation for the theory is questionable.

He also suggests that Carlisle may have been seeking at the time to supplement his income by writing at a time when he wasn’t making that much from surgery. I understand that typically Minerva would pay around £5 to £10 for a novel, this against typical labourers wages of 10s per week. Thus the proceeds from a novel would hardly support Carlisle in the lifestyle he might aspire to for long, there would probably have been many more lucrative ways in which he could have spent his time.

 Again, Sheldon has spent much time and effort in proving this link, and knows Carlisle much better than I, but again from my reading some of the basic supports to the theory appear weak and the main evidence again tenuous.

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