• Women, suffrage, and Clemence Dane: a game of speculation

      Weedon, Alexis (Cambridge Scholar, 2020-07-03)
      Clemence Dane (1888-1965) was one of the newly enfranchised women eligible to vote for the first time under the suffrage act of 1918. An articulate novelist, actress and sculptor, her writings and speeches about women for magazines and the radio give us an insight into some of the complexities that faced women as they formed opinions on topical issues in the political sphere. In 1926 she collected those articles in a volume putting, as she phrased it, The Women’s Side. In this chapter I look at Dane’s explorations of The Women Question in her 1926 collection The Women’s Side, and in her own novel Legend (1919) her plays Wild Decembers (1932) about the Brontë family and Bill of Divorcement (1921) which can be read as a reflection on the story of Jane Eyre. Her imaginative talent was stimulated by the gaps in biography where the historian had to give ground to the creative artist and she drew on the licence of the actress in the interpretative performance of a personal story to create a narrative of women’s genius. Dane’s adopts the popular card game “Speculation” from Austen's Mansfield Park as a trope to explore the tensions and stresses for women as they left the familiar and expected conventions of Victorian womanhood and took up an uncertain and contested new role in society.