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Patricia Beatty's historical novels and her engagement with feminism

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In this paper, I place Patricia Beatty's historical novels that feature girl protagonists in the context of the women's movement. I argue that Beatty, a self-identified feminist, writes into her novels a woman-centered history. In so doing, she was writing in the same tradition as women historians in the 1970s, who were challenging the absence of women from traditional historical narratives. In her novels set in the American West, she writes about women's domestic lives, their work, and their move toward independence and suffrage in the nineteenth century. In novels set in the Civil War and Reconstruction, she writes about the displacement of women mill workers in the South. She also addresses issues of prejudice and slavery. An analysis of the texts of Beatty's historical novels and her notes makes visible her attitudes and values toward feminism, which are based on the concept of equality rather than difference. Beatty's contribution to writing in women's history in her novels has largely been unrecognized, but her commitment to valuing the lives of women and the lives of others, who have been subjected to discrimination, cannot be doubted.

Keywords: American Civil War; Patricia Beatty; feminism; women's history

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Formerly, School Library Media Specialization Program, Kean University, Union, New Jersey, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2008


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