dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)
posted by [personal profile] dorothean at 09:19pm on 23/10/2012
I just finished Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë (published 1857) and am wondering -- is this the first major biography of a woman in English?

I can't think of any earlier ones. Memoirs and autobiographies, yes (especially by religious women), but no biographies. Although surely there were hagiographies, and Elizabeth I must have been the subject of a biography before the mid-1900s...

Maybe it's the first biography of a woman by a woman -- although certainly not the first biography by a woman, since I think it was fairly common, at least by the 19th century, for a surviving wife to write up her husband's life and edit his letters for publication.

Am I missing something obvious?

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