Author Biography

Chantel Lavoie is an associate professor in the Department of English, Culture, and Communication at the Royal Military College of Canada, where she specializes in eighteenth-century women writers and children's literature. Her first book, Collecting Women: Poetry and Lives, 1700-1780, was published by Bucknell UP in 2009. At present she is completing another, titled Writing through Boyhood in the Long Eighteenth Century: Age, Gender, and Work.


The Boy in the Text: Mary Barber, Her Son, and Children’s Poetry in Poems on Several Occasions

This paper reconsiders the work of Dublin poet Mary Barber, whose collection of poems appeared in 1733/34. There she acknowledges the assistance of Jonathan Swift, and frames her poetry as a pedagogical aid to her children’s education—particularly that of her eldest son, Constantine. Barber’s relationship with Swift has received much critical attention, as has her focus on her own motherhood—sometimes in critiques that suggest both of these hampered the quality and scope of her work. This paper asks readers to look at her poetry as the children’s literature she claimed it was, as well as being crossover literature aimed at more than one generation, published with the hope of the kind of success that Jonathan Swift (and John Gay, and Daniel Defoe) achieved by reaching more than one generation of readers.


Mary Barber, Jonathan Swift, Constantine Barber, Poetry, Motherhood, Children's literature