In A Gossip's Story and a Legendary Tale (1796), Jane West engages with both the contemporary ideology and the political reality of the British empire by explicitly supporting British overseas trade while acknowledging the precarious nature of a transatlantic empire. For West, the female body is a potent site through which to explore colonialist ideologies. The fates of various female characters reinforce ideas about feminine virtue and sexual regulation shaped by British contact with the Atlantic world, thus promoting a moral code that would come to define the empire. If young women do represent the British subject in didactic fiction of this period, with the father figure representing state authority, West's portrayal of these characters in A Gossip's Story against the backdrop of British Caribbean colonies alters our understanding of the national culture she promotes. A Gossip's Story's overt message -- the importance of filial duty -- urges its female readers not just to be good daughters, but to be good daughters of the British empire.

Contributor's Note

Angela Rehbein is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Missouri, where she is completing a dissertation on British women writers and empire in the late eighteenth century. Her project examines multiple genres and considers writers such as Jane West, Anna Seward, Maria Edgeworth, and Elizabeth Inchbald.

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Corrective Note from Author