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The Prejudices of Mary Hays

Lookup NU author(s): Ian Ward



During the 1790s, Mary Hays was one of the most influential radical novelists and polemicists in England. She counted amongst her closest friends and mentors the likes of Joseph Johnson, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. During this tumultuous final decade of the century, she published two novels, The Memoirs of Emma Courtney and The Victim of Prejudice. Both were controversial in the extreme, attracting the opprobrium of conservative critics. What caused such consternation was not merely their vivid description of the myriad political and social injustices suffered by her female compatriots, but the role of the law in perpetuating such injustices. For much of the last two hundred years Hays has been a largely forgotten figure, her novels occasioning rare interest amongst literary critics and historians, rarer interest still amongst jurists. The purpose of this article is to address this neglect, and to recommend Hays as one of the most intriguing and urgent prophets of modern literary and jurisprudential feminism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ward I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Law in Context

Year: 2009

Volume: 5

Issue: 2

Pages: 131-146

ISSN (print): 1744-5523

ISSN (electronic): 1744-5531

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1744552309990048


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