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"What Women Can Do When They Put Their Minds To It": Elaine Showalter And Virago Press

Ellen Gilbert
Crystal Decotiis
Teresa Schartel


The distinguished literary critic Elaine Showalter made a new contribution to the universe of feminist scholarship during the summer of 2003. Showalter's previous contributions to the field include, of course, the groundbreaking books A Literature of Their Own, Sexual Anarchy, and Inventing Herself, as well as dozens of articles and essays. This particular contribution, however, was in the form of a noteworthy book collection: a nearly complete set of first editions from the London-based, feminist publisher Virago Press. The Virago collection is not Showalter's first gift to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; in 2002, she gave Rutgers her collection of nineteenth-century Victorian women's novels and writings amassed when she was starting out as a young scholar. Speaking at the Fifteenth Annual Louis Faugeres III Bishop Lecture at the time of this earlier gift, Showalter expressed the hope that others would follow her lead: "Indeed, I want to encourage everyone to enjoy the satisfactions of giving away their books while they are still alive."

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