Quaker Studies

Mary Birkett Card (1774–1817): Struggling to Become the Ideal Quaker Woman

Quaker Studies (2010), 14, (2), 178–194.

Abstract

This paper is based on The Works of Mary Birkett Card 1774–1817, an edition of the manuscript collection made by her son Nathaniel Card in 1834. The collection contains different genres and spans Card’s life from childhood to near her death, forming a unique record of one woman’s experience at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Themes of self and identity, women’s participation in public and private spheres, and ideological differences are apparent in Mary Birkett Card’s struggle, in life and text, to become ‘the ideal Quaker woman’. One particular focus is on her negotiation of Quaker ideology in relation to her literary creativity. It is argued that dramatic changes in her writing resulted from efforts to contain her literary imagination in line with ‘plainer’ Quaker aesthetic values and more restrictive ideas about the most appropriate forms of creativity for her as a woman and a Friend.

Mary Birkett Card (1774–1817): Struggling to Become the Ideal Quaker Woman

Abstract

This paper is based on The Works of Mary Birkett Card 1774–1817, an edition of the manuscript collection made by her son Nathaniel Card in 1834. The collection contains different genres and spans Card’s life from childhood to near her death, forming a unique record of one woman’s experience at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Themes of self and identity, women’s participation in public and private spheres, and ideological differences are apparent in Mary Birkett Card’s struggle, in life and text, to become ‘the ideal Quaker woman’. One particular focus is on her negotiation of Quaker ideology in relation to her literary creativity. It is argued that dramatic changes in her writing resulted from efforts to contain her literary imagination in line with ‘plainer’ Quaker aesthetic values and more restrictive ideas about the most appropriate forms of creativity for her as a woman and a Friend.


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Author details

Teakle, Josephine