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The Review Periodical and British Women Novelists, 1790-1820

This book project looks to uncover the role that the review periodical played in shaping the modern novel canon, and its varying inclusion or neglect of  Romantic women novelists.


Using microfilm, and original print editions of The Critical Review and The Monlthy Review housed at University of Missour's Special Collections, I have built The Novels Reviewed Database (NRD) that catalogs reviews of novels from 1790-1820. The NRD provides the dataset for this project.


Using the NRD, this project reads over 1800 book reviews, and uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine how contemporary reviews responded to the only period in literary history when women published more novels than men.


This project is the first to define the book review periodical as a genre, and trace how it was read by eighteenth-century readers. Combining contepmorary reading practices with digital reading practices, I outline a new methodology for researching eighteenth-century periodicals, and offer a series of data-driven studies. These studies show that the review periodical influenced the working definition of the novel, shaped the writing style of now canonical novelists like Jane Austen, and how the Reviews erased women writers, like Charlotte Smith, from the memory of nineteenth and early twentieth century historians of the novel.

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