This collection aims to give a chronological insight into the evolution of conduct literature, from its early roots in the Renaissance period through to the dramatically different role that women played at the emergence of the 20th century. The material presented in this six-volume set moves away from courtly etiquette, adopting a more middle-class, domestic focus, and includes facsimile reproductions of sermons, poems, narratives and cookery books.
Social and literary historians recognise the 1790s as a moment of political crisis and turbulence in British history: the intense reactions in Britain to increasing revolutionary violence in France politicised almost every aspect of cultural life. At the centre of discursive hostilities was the opposition between sentimentality, on the one hand, and rationality, on the other. Two of the most important literary forms utilised for expressing these polemics were novels and treatises on education, as well as conduct writing. Conduct Literature for Women IV, 1770-1830 makes available this body of writing, which has been less well studied in respect to the war of ideas than the former two.