Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi is a Victorianist by training. Her first area of interest was the 1890's, and her first book was Dark Passages: The Decadent Consciousness in Victorian Literature (1965).
Her growing interest in feminist theory and feminist literary criticism led to the editing, with Albert Gelpi, of Adrienne Rich's Poetry in 1975; expanded and revised as Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose in 1993. She worked with the group of editors at the Center for Research on Women at Stanford who published Victorian Women: A Documentary Account of Women's Lives in Nineteenth-Century England, France, and the United States in 1981. In 1980, she became editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, a position she held until 1985. Her most recent book, Shelley's Goddess: Maternity, Language, Subjectivity was published in 1992, and she is now engaged in studying Victorian medievalism. Her fields of interest are Victorian and Romantic literature and feminist literary criticism. Her published essays are also in these areas.