Browsing English literature by Subjects
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Fiction and 'the Woman Question' from 1830 to 1930This book is about how ‘The Woman Question’ was represented in works of fiction published between 1850 and 1930. The essays here offer a wide-ranging and original approach to the ways in which literature shaped perceptions of the roles and position of women in society. Debates over ‘The Woman Question’ encompassed not only the struggle for voting rights, but gender equality more widely. The book reaches beyond the usual canonical texts to focus on writers who have, in the main, attracted relatively little critical attention in recent years: Stella Benson, Kate Chopin, Marie Corelli, Dinah Mulock Craik, Clemence Dane, Arthur Conan Doyle, George Gissing, Ouida, and William Hale White (who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Mark Rutherford’). These writers dealt imaginatively with issues such as marriage, motherhood, sexual desire, adultery and suffrage, and they represented female characters who, in varying degrees and with mixed success, sought to defy the social, sexual and political constraints placed upon them. The collection as a whole demonstrates how fiction could contribute in striking and memorable ways to debates over gender equality—debates which continue to have relevance in the twenty-first century.
Introduction to Fiction and 'The Woman Question' from 1850 to 1930The various aspects of ‘the Woman Question’ in the later nineteenth century, and into the twentieth century—education, suffrage, financial and emotional independence, marriage and motherhood—are all explored and debated in the chapters making up this collection. In bringing together this collection of essays, we have decided to focus attention not on famous writers or works, but on fiction written by authors who have attracted relatively little critical interest in recent years. Writers discussed include Stella Benson; Marie Corelli; Kate Chopin; Dinah Mulock Craik; Clemence Dane; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; George Gissing; Ouida and William Hale White (who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Mark Rutherford’). While no longer be as well-known as when they were publishing their novels, many of them were extremely popular with the reading public of their time, and some were compared by critics to writers who are now more often in the forefront of Victorian studies. In providing critical accounts of some key works by these writers, we hope that this collection of essays significantly extends our understanding of how fiction can be used to represent female characters who, in varying degrees and with mixed success, sought to defy the social, sexual and political constraints placed upon them. The short stories, novellas and novels considered in this volume demonstrate how fiction contributed in striking and memorable ways to debates over ‘the Woman Question’ and gender equality—debates that continue to have relevance in the twenty-first century.