This is a blog dedicated to female writers of the late Victorian period (see below). It is designed to collate resourceful information; there doesn't appear to be any other sites on the www that do this. If you would like to share ideas, book recommendations or any relevant trivia please leave a message!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Red Pottage

I am pleased to announce that this blog is already drawing those interested in late Victorian women's literature together. I have been away for a while due to limited computer facilities- technological blips are slowly turning me into a luddite! Last week, Dr Carolyn Oulton, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Language Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University got in touch with me. She is in the final stages of a biography of Mary Cholmondeley and is trying to start a campaign to get Red Pottage back into print. Judith Luna at the OUP has tentatively said they might be interested if they were convinced there was a demand, but she is proving hard to convince.

I am in the process of setting up a forum for discussion on this blog specifically for this but in the meantime, please start expressing your views by leaving comments below this post. I shall be back later with a more meaty post later!


Friday, September 7, 2007

Book: Art for Art's Sake Movement

Art for Art's Sake and Literary Life:
How Politics and Markets Helped Shape the Ideology and Culture of Aestheticism, 1790–1990

By Gene H. Bell-Villada

''Lucid and learned. . . . much more than an exercise in retrieval, although it is splendid on this account alone, Bell-Villada has also joined debates about the Latin American novel, deconstructionism, and post-modernism, offering what is always in short supply: a wide-angled, historical, and penetrating perspective''.
—Russell Jacoby.

''Professor Bell-Villada has rendered an incomparable service to those probing the sources of the modern aesthetic . . . I have found his book so wide-ranging and inclusive that I would recommend it enthusiastically"
—Dore Ashton.

“A wide-ranging, erudite, well-written study with a refreshing disdain for doctrine.”Publishers Weekly.

“There are concrete social, economic, political, and cultural reasons for the emergence, growth, diffusion, and triumph of l’art pour l’art over the past two centuries.” Bell-Villada


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mary Cholmondeley (1859-1925)


"Every day I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing and which, shirking pain, misses happiness as well."

Born: Shropshire, England, 1859.
Married: As she expected, Cholmondeley never married in her 66 years.
Career: Cholmondeley perceived the diversity of ethical sympathies to be a source of creative inspiration which produced a more expansive art.

Works Timeline:

  • The Danvers Jewels (1886)
  • Sir Charles Danvers (1889)
  • Let Loose (1890)
  • Diana Tempest (1893)
  • Devotee : An Episode in the Life of a Butterfly (1897)
  • Red Pottage (1899) (her best known work)
  • Prisoners (1906)
  • The Lowest Rung (1908)
  • Moth and Rust (1912)
  • After All (1913)
  • Notwithstanding (1913)
  • Under One Roof (1917)

Mona Caird (1854-1932)


"We are governed not by armies, but by ideas."

Born: She was born in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, 1854.
Married: James Alexander Henryson-Caird, a farmer, 1877.
Career: Like Grand, Caird entered the political arena with articles which were collected in a volume entitled: The Morality of Marriage and Other Essays on the Status and Destiny of Women in 1897.

Works Timeline:
  • Whom Nature Leadeth (1883) novel
  • One That Wins (1887) novel
  • Marriage (1888) essay
  • The Wing Of Azrael (1889) novel
  • The Emancipation of the Family (1890) essay
  • A Romance Of The Moors (1891) stories
  • The Yellow Drawing-Room (1892) story
  • A Defence of the So-Called Wild Women (1892) essay
  • The Daughters Of Danaus (1894) novel
  • The Sanctuary Of Mercy 1895) essay
  • A Sentimental View Of Vivisection (1895) essay
  • Beyond the Pale: An Appeal on Behalf of the Victims of Vivisection (1897) extended essay
  • The Morality of Marriage and Other Essays on the Status and Destiny of Women (1897) essays
  • The Pathway Of The Gods (1898) novel
  • The Ethics of Vivisection (1900) essay
  • The Logicians: An episode in dialogue (1902) play
  • Romantic Cities Of Provence (1906) travel
  • Militant Tactics and Woman's Suffrage (1908) essay
  • The Stones Of Sacrifice (1915) essay
  • The Great Wave (1931) novel

THE SANCTUARY OF MERCY. by Mona Caird (short extract)

IN studying the relation of the human to the animal races, I have been greatly struck by the different spirit displayed by writers as regards this question--a question profound in its importance both to man and beast, but which, nevertheless, has scarcely yet risen into the realm of human speculation and morality. One seldom meets with any definite and fully thought-out statement on the matter: the disposition of the writer is displayed in chance utterances, passing allusions, which indicate the nature of the feeling rather than formulate an opinion'

Sarah Grand (1854-1943)

‘To be true to life should be the first aim of an author’

Frances Bellenden Clarke in Ireland, 1854.
Married: Chambers McFall, a widowed army surgeon, 1871. They had one son.
Travels: She travelled to the Far East & lived in England.
Career: a writer and an public speaker, she coined the phrase 'New Woman' in a political article entitled: ''The New Aspect of the Woman Question."
Unlike male writers of the time, Grand aimed to merge ART and REALITY. This is most evidently seen in her semi-autobiographical work The Beth Book (1897).

Works Timeline:

Ideala (1888)
The Heavenly Twins (1893) The same year she changed her name to Sarah Grand- a pseudonym that did not disguise her gender.
Our Manifold Nature (1894)
The Beth Book (1897)
The Modern Man and Maid (1898)
Emotional Moments (1903)
Adnams Orchard (1912)
The Winged Victory (1916)
Variety (1922).



Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Bram Stoker.

These are all names which spring to mind when thinking of literature that shapes the late-Victorian period.

Take a look at the Vintage Classics Timeline and you will see how this speculation is confirmed.

However, this neglects so much literature of the 1880s and 1890s, which significantly defined the era.

Heard the names Sarah Grand, Mona Caird, Mary Cholmondely?

These are just three writers to produce works of art that would play a significant role in women's literature and prefigure the better-known female novelists of the 20th century, such as Virginia Woolf.

Critics argue that these writers have been kicked out of the canon because:

- Many female writers opted to publish short stories rather than three decker novels. They took advantage of the changing economic landscape, which tended to find the reading public consuming smaller portions of literature;
- Most did not adhere to the strict rules of prescriptive grammarians. Shockingly, they often split their infinitives (gasp);
- They centred on themes such as female emancipation, thus challenging the politics of a society staunchly opposed to such ideas.

This blog has been set up as a free information forum to share news and views on the works of late Victorian female writers from both a trivial and academic perspective.