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Title: Escape artists: adventure and isolation in women's writing at the fin de siècle
Authors: Nicol, Jennifer
Keywords: Levy, Amy
Grand, Sarah
Egerton, George
Mew, Charlotte
Yellow Book
Victorian literature
Women's writing
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © Jennifer Nicol
Abstract: Recent scholarship has examined the lived experience of unmarried women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, both in cities and in the countryside. Typically, scholarship in this field has focussed on women's social identity whether spinster, widow or lesbian and addressed how these types of women were variously used in fiction and the press to contest or uphold the gendered status quo. This thesis problematises the distinct characterisation of these social identities by examining works which seek to unify female social identity at the fin de siècle through a common modern experience: the conflict between individual and collective life. All of the female subjects examined in this thesis whether author, artist, or fictional character, and whether married, separated, unmarried, widowed, homosexual, or not easily identifiable either way are solitary figures. Their movement within and interaction with their environments reveal the uneasy combination of separation and exposure experienced by working women of all classes at the fin de siècle. This thesis examines the solitary female figure in works of British fiction produced between 1880 and 1922. It considers the pressures and implications of separation and exposure in relation to female celebrity and creative practices at the fin de siècle. My methodology involves examining the biography and auto/biographical works of Amy Levy (1861-1889), George Egerton (pseud. of Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright; 1859-1945), Sarah Grand (pseud. of Frances Elizabeth Bellenden McFall; 1854-1943) and Charlotte Mew (1869-1923), and drawing out aspects that speak to the desires for privacy and, conversely, publicity and/or companionship. I identify how their lived experience of this conflict broadly, between society and solitude affected the depiction of modern female consciousness in their literary works by examining their female characters subjective interaction with three environments: the foreign landscape, the home, and the city. My aim is to identify how Levy, Egerton, Grand and Mew used their literary works to acknowledge and retaliate against the restrictions which continued to limit urban women's physical, social and psychological autonomy.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
Sponsor: Loughborough University, Graduate School.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/25494
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (English and Drama)

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