Analysis of the women authors in English literature of the 19th century reveals and tries to comprehend the reasons behind their success especially in Britain, America and France. Their widespread exposure despite the patriarchal society and the dismissive attitude towards the intellectual abilities of women gave birth to a complete new perspective towards them. The result was that many of these 19th century writers, despite the gender consciousness existing in the society, brought forth the feminist attitudes in literature, altering completely the perception of authors regarded by the society henceforth.
Analysis of literature of the era by Natalie Walet has found that the number of published women authors are more in 19th century than any of the previous ones and this has been accredited to the access to higher education during that time. The knowledge gained enabled them to nourish the skills and develop their love for art. Furthermore, the growth of economies, cities, relationships and life expectancies made women to conform to the new societal pressures and become conscious about their social, legal and political inequality. Lastly, beside these changes, the role of women in movements such as religious revivalism, temperance, suffrage and abolitionism gave these authors the audience who would readily accept the new women and her views. Even if the larger ratio maintained their domesticity and agreed upon the gender inequalities rendered out by the men of the society, these women authors actually found their audience among this same ratio. It became a subject of debate, wherein the original position of the women authors were decided upon.
At the beginning, the women writers strictly delved only with children’s literature and poetry. The emotions in poetry, especially ones that described emotions and sentiments, were considered by other authors as something feminine. However, as the age progressed, the women authors moved to fiction, which was dismissed by the then chauvinistic male critics as inferior talents, as women generally lacked the worldly experience needed to work on fiction. It has been found that the then prevalent authors like Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley, and George Sand were never far away from the negative assessments of the prevailing male authors of the time.
Analysts like Natalie Walet argue that stereotyping has actually led the work of multiple talented women authors to be considered unworthy for academic study and even felicitation in the world of literature. On the other hand, modern day critics agree that women novelists of the 19th century were way more popular than the male author. While some have given equal importance to men and women both, others have primarily highlighted women and her full spectrum of capabilities despite their existence in the patriarchal world.
Besides these, the analysts have been able to recognize cultures and trends existing in the feminist literary artists of France, USA and England. The critics have also acknowledged the contributions of Native African and Native American authors who were under the influence of strong colonialism and domesticity.
However, at the very end of the 19th century, the subject matter approached by these women expanded beyond poetry and children stories to highlighting the lives and hardships experienced by these women, who were more often than not limited by domestication. Through the authors, the critics found that women actually expressed their otherwise suppressed individualism.