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By Melissa J. Homestead

Via an exploration of girls authors'engagements with copyright and married girls estate legislation, American girls authors and Literary estate, 1822-1869, revises nineteenth-century American literary heritage, making women's authorship and copyright legislation relevant. utilizing case reviews of 5 renowned fiction writers Catharine Sedgwick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Fanny Fern, Augusta Evans, and Mary Virginia Terhunee, domicile indicates how the convergence of copyright and coverture either fostered and restricted white women's company as authors. girls authors exploited their prestige as nonproprietary topics to virtue through adapting themselves to a copyright legislations that privileged readers entry to literature over authors estate rights. Homesteads' inclusion of the Confederacy during this paintings sheds mild at the centrality of copyright to nineteenth-century American nationalisms and at the strikingly varied development of author-reader kin less than U.S. and accomplice copyright legislation.

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6 Terhune was neither a feminist nor an abolitionist, and her use of the trope clearly serves to write black slaves out of slavery. Terhune wrote Phemie after the Union victory in the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves. Born and raised in Virginia in a Whig family, she moved North when her Northern husband accepted a call to a church in New Jersey, and during the war she supported the Union. However, she did not support abolition, and she indignantly portrays Phemie as her husband’s chattel not to protest the injustice of the abolished institution of chattel slavery (she did not believe the institution to be unjust – at least when the chattel were persons of African descent in the southern states).

2 After a lengthy digression calling for reform of the married women’s property laws right out of feminist reform literature (complete with a vignette of a poor laundress whose drunken husband steals all of her wages), Miss Darcy returns to Phemie’s particular case: “Mr. Hart should bring a suit against those who have ploughed with his heifer, and kept back her hire from his lordly palm; but when the unrighteous husbandmen are the respectable firm of Mallory & Hart, the complication is more than discouraging.

As she begins to put a new life together for herself, Phemie faces the intersection between her legal disabilities under the common law doctrine of coverture and her literary proprietorship in an extreme form. Not only is James Hart her husband, he is also her publisher. Early in her marriage, without her husband’s prior knowledge or consent, she publishes a novel under the pseudonym “Epsilon,” hoping he will be pleased after the fact. Instead, he is outraged. Her husband’s publishing house, through his partner Mallory, published Phemie’s book without Mallory knowing the identity of “Epsilon” (although Mallory does find out after Phemie reveals her authorship to her husband).

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