"Thinking your journal unimportant": a feminist literary analysis of selected excerpts from Lady Anne Barnard’s Cape diaries.

08 June 2012

This article offers a feminist literary analysis of selected excerpts from the diaries that Lady Anne Barnard wrote during her stay at the Cape Colony from 1797 until 1802. Lady Anne was, by all accounts, an extremely productive writer and correspondent who left behind a wealth of material at the time of her death on 6 May 1825. The article argues that diaries can provide valuable insights about gendered constructions at different historical moments and about how individual women navigated such gendered structures in their daily lives. The textual specificities of diaries require that researchers adjust our reading strategies to meet the demands of these texts. Lady Anne emerges as a complex subject who is both subversive and constrained in her negotiations with gendered constructions of “proper” female roles and behaviour. Even as she challenges these constructions, she also appears to have internalized them, at least partly.