In addition to anonymity and (at least according to Woolf) childlessness, another quality our nineteenth-century women novelists have in common is their ability to provoke controversy, both in their day and ours. Of the six, probably Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë have sustained both the most virulent attacks and the most passionate defenses. 1 Critical attacks on Austen have tended to be condescending, on Charlotte Brontë angry, but both occur along gender lines. Henry James's picture of "dear Jane, gentle Jane, everyone's Jane," composing in the drawing-room in the intervals of dropped stitches, is typical of critics who patronize Austen. Actually, Austen was at least as conscious as James of her craft, but buried her manifesto in her creative work, rather than writing an essay on "The Art of Fiction." 2 Lionel Trilling, one of the more noteworthy Austen defenders, asked in an unfinished 1975 essay. "Why Read Jane Austen Today?" (He died before completing it, and probably before answering his own question.)