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Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900sThe Victorian Period$
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Alexis Easley, Clare Gill, and Beth Rodgers

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474433907

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474433907.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 01 December 2020

Mary Smith (1822–1889): A Radical Journalist under Many Guises

Mary Smith (1822–1889): A Radical Journalist under Many Guises

Chapter:
(p.502) 31 Mary Smith (1822–1889): A Radical Journalist under Many Guises
Source:
Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900s
Author(s):

Florence S. Boos

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474433907.003.0032

In this essay, Florence S. Boos examines the career of Mary Smith, a writer who used the correspondence columns of the Carlisle Journal and other periodicals to write on religious pluralism, women’s enfranchisement, Liberal party politics, Irish Home Rule, and British imperialism. The extent of her contributions will probably never be fully known since her letters were signed with initials or with pseudonyms such as ‘Burns Redivivus’ or ‘Sigma.’ Anonymity was crucial for a lower-middle-class woman writer who could not vote but yearned to influence public debate. ‘If men knew who the writer was,’ she acknowledged, ‘they would say, “What does a woman know about politics?”’ (p. 510). When adopting various signatures, she shifted her tone and persona accordingly, reserving her most strident voice for the letters she published on Liberal party politics, styling herself as ‘Sigma’ or ‘Z.’ ‘Periodical journalism,’ Boos concludes, ‘provided Smith with the opportunity to explore a range of personae, topics, and rhetorical approaches over several decades, and to influence public opinion in favour of her chosen causes while retaining her cherished mental independence and broadly critical stance’ (p. 513).

Keywords:   Mary Smith, Carlisle Journal, correspondence columns, religious pluralism, women’s enfranchisement, Liberal party politics, Irish Home Rule, British imperialism, anonymity

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