Jean Webster(1875-1916) was born in Fredonia, New York, the daughter of Charles L. Webster, who was Mark Twain's publisher and business partner. Educated at Vassar College, she must have been a woman with a strong social conscience, perhaps aroused by her visits as a student to orphanages and other institutions (part of her economics course: her degree was in English and economics). She was always concerned for the plight of children who began life with such disadvantages and later she served on committees for prison reform and regularly visited Sing Sing jail. She wrote a number of novels that are now forgotten, but the last two,Daddy-Long-Legs(1912) and its sequelDear Enemy(1915), have survived both in book form, stage and film versions, and a British musical comedy Love from Judy produced in 1953. In 1915 Jean Webster married Glenn Ford McKinney. She died a year later, the day after the birth of her daughter. From the Hardcover edition.
In 1977, Showalter published A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing. It was one of the most influential works in feminist criticism, as it sought to establish a distinctive tradition for women writers. In later essays, Showalter helped to develop a clearly articulated feminist theory with two major branches: the special study of works by women and the study of all literature from a feminist perspective. In all of her recent writing, Showalter has sought to illuminate a "cultural model of female writing," distinguishable from male models and theories. Her role as editor bringing together key contemporary feminist criticism has been extremely influential on modern literary study.