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Richly researched and engagingly written, Political Affairs of the Heart traces the emergence of female sentimental travel writing in late eighteenth-century Britain, and posits its centrality to women’s engagement with national and gender politics. This study examines four travel narratives written by women between 1774 and 1795, convincingly arguing that they effectively deploy the discourse of sensibility to engage with debates around Britain’s national identity during the French and American Revolutions. Van Netten Blimke contends that Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey (1768)—which first introduced sentimental discourse to the travelogue—facilitated women’s gradual inclusion into this previously male-dominated genre, effectively paving the way for women to influence the country’s sociopolitical transformation. These four previously understudied works successfully combine eyewitness authority with the language of sensibility to mount impassioned interventions in their nation’s perception and practice of revolutionary politics, at a time when its national identity was most in flux.


Women's travel writing, 18th century travel writing, Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey, travelogue, Janet Schaw, Mary Morgan, Helen Maria Williams, Female sentimental travel writing, American Revolution, French Revolution


Copyright © 2022 by Linda Van Netten Blimke All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Bucknell University Press, Hildreth-Mirza Hall, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law.


text; 238 pages



Political Affairs of the Heart: Female Travel Writers, the Sentimental Travelogue, and Revolution, 1775-1800