Helen Maria Williams’s enthusiastic identification with the ‘citizen of the world’ ideal in her Letters Written in France (1790), and Jane West’s loyalist dismissal of this ideal as literally unChristian in her Letters to a Young Lady (1799), represent the full range of British representations of this cosmopolitan ideal in the 1790s. Building on the growing body of scholarly work that has restored women writers to the centre of Romantic-period studies,1 my aim in Citizens of the World is to illuminate the underappreciated extent to which Romantic-period British women writers cultivated a radicalized cosmopolitanism through their engagement with French revolutionary politics. British women were drawn to France for both its ancien régime associations as ‘the paradise of lady wits’ (to quote Fanny Burney, Journals 1: 197), and its revolutionary politics that extended across gender and national lines. Most visible in the 1790s, yet persisting through the rise and fall of Napoleon in the writings of Francophiles like Anne Plumptre and Lady Morgan, revolutionary cosmopolitanism flourished in women’s writings of the Romantic era.
KeywordsPublic Sphere Active Citizen French Revolution Woman Writer British Nation
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