A COLONIAL WOMAN’S BOOKSHELF, by Kevin J. Hayes (University of Tennessee Press, 231 pages, $35.00).
Drawing on an impressive array of material, the author offers insight into the types of books read by the women of Colonial America. While historians have scrutinized the work of such poets and writers as Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612-72) and Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727), they have focused little attention on the books that average women owned and read during that era. Hayes makes use of estate inventories, surviving volumes inscribed by women, public and private library catalogs, sales ledgers, and surviving subscription-library records to show that American women of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries read more than is commonly supposed, and to detail the nature of the intellectual life of women in the colonies.