Vol. V (Summer 2013)
Another busy year has passed, but our little band of editors here at The Latchkey has not failed to take notice of excellent recent work pertaining to New Woman studies along the way. We are very pleased to present you with an international roster of authors, subjects, and materials in our new yearly issue of The Latchkey.
Our three featured essays by Melissa Purdue, Jad Adams, and Karsten Piep deal with two key New Woman writers of the fin de siècle, Sarah Grand and Ella Hepworth Dixon, and one lesser-known male modernist writer, Henry Sydnor Harrison. All offer exciting new perspectives on works that deserve more attention. Jad Adams looks beyond Ella Hepworth Dixon’s best-known novel The Story of a Modern Woman to examine the notion of feminist solidarity across Dixon’s much lesser known, understudied short fiction and her contributions to various periodicals. Karsten Piep's article, “Business as Usual: Re-Domesticating the New Woman in Henry Sydnor Harrison’s Post-World War I Novel, Saint Teresa (1922),” explores early twentieth-century reactions against militant feminism with the creation of the “Newest New Woman” through Harrison's forgotten 1922 novel, Saint Teresa. Melissa Purdue analyzes Sarah Grand’s semi-autobiographical The Beth Book (1897), “a New Woman novel deeply concerned with money—particularly women’s lack of it,” which finds its central metaphor in the book’s “discourse about hungry bodies, food, and consumption.” Grand celebrates her protagonist Beth’s proactive attitude toward money, indicating a larger shift in New Woman literature towards an endorsement of women earning their own money while also caring for others. As The Beth Book demonstrates, Purdue writes, “financial independence and what one does with money, rather than one’s distance from money, become important signals of feminine virtue in New Woman literature.”
We have also been very happy to see so many wonderful new books published that directly pertain to our subject area, as reflected in our book reviews section. In keeping with The Latchkey’s mission to explore the “New Woman” phenomenon beyond the shores of England, this issue includes Heidi Hansson’s review of Catherine Morris’s Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival. Morris reinstates Milligan – playwright, poet, journalist and editor – as a key, but often neglected, activist in early Irish nationalism. Hansson makes a keen appraisal of the book’s extensive research and comprehensive argument. Gabrielle Malcolm reviews New Perspectives on Mary Elizabeth Braddon, critical essays compiled by Jessica Cox (The Latchkey’s original book editor, we proudly note). Originating from the University of Wales in Swansea’s 2006 symposium on Braddon’s life and works, Cox’s collection emphasizes the influential author’s career with new considerations of her most famous novel, Lady Audley’s Secret, and essays that examine lesser-known fiction from her early and late career. All add lively scholarly energy to the existing scholarship on this significant woman writer. Catherine Pope offers a comprehensive summary and assessment of a new edition of Ouida’s best-selling yet practically forgotten 1897 novel The Massarenes (volume 7 of Pickering & Chatto’s New Woman Fiction series), edited with a useful introduction by Andrew King, which also includes a survey of contemporary reviews as well as extensive endnotes. Pope’s review also touches on the debate regarding Ouida’s feminism (especially in comparison with Sarah Grand’s), arguing that despite Ouida’s lesser respected status as a New Woman writer she may have been “a more radical writer than many of her peers” because of her combined commitment to individualism and labor issues. Donna Parsons has read Ann R. Hawkins and Maura Ives's Women Writers and the Artifacts of Celebrity in the Long Nineteenth Century, finding it a fascinating study of the ways in which women writers participated in and were constructed for the literary marketplace of the late-nineteenth century, and the ways in which female authors were presented--and presented themselves--using the popular press and the now familiar strategies associated with celebrity. Paula Murphy reviews Shannon Hunter Hurtado’s Genteel Mavericks: Professional Women Sculptors in Victorian Britain, which highlights the work of four female sculptors renowned in their lifetime, Mary Grant, Mary Thornycroft, Susan Durant, and Amelia Paton Hill, who were seen as “mavericks” because of their choice of profession, and yet had to conform to expectations of “genteel” Victorian femininity. Jennifer Redmond realizes, in Jill Rappoport's Giving Women: Alliance and Exchange in Victorian Culture, a new approach to interpreting Victorian canonical texts including Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, as well as women's charitable activities for the Salvation Army in the slums of the East End, by an examination of the meanings of gift giving. And Lena Wånggren reviews Emelyne Godfrey’s Femininity, Crime and Self-Defense in Victorian Literature and Society: From Dagger-Fans to Suffragettes, a chronological survey of writers’ responses to the realities of women’s public and private harassment and abuse, from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, and across a large range of texts (novels, short stories, the popular press, self-defence, martial arts, and athletic instruction manuals). The period’s literature, Godfrey explains, reveals an absorbed concern with women’s self-defense. In addition, Godfrey investigates the rise of the female detective, noting that popular stories about women criminal investigators found their parallel in the often overlooked actual women who advertised their services as detectives.
Finally, our two featured New Women in this issue’s update of our Who’s Who page are Ouida (Marie Louise Ramé) and Rhoda Broughton, both of whom hold much interest for scholars and readers. Kirby-Jane Hallum gives very useful overviews of their life and work. And in our Gallery [MAKE LINK TO GALLERY SECTION OR TO THE ESSAY BY O’DONNELL] section, we are very happy to include an image essay about the New Woman in the American popular press of the time, prepared by Molly O’Donnell.
On behalf of the entire editorial team, we wish to express our sincere thanks to our webmaster and publisher Steven Halliwell and The Rivendale Press, who have made this journal possible since its inception in 2009 and continue to support us in our efforts to bring fresh scholarship to readers worldwide, for free.
As we look forward to next year’s issue, please continue to send us inquiries, proposals, or materials such as new essays, book reviews, featured New Women biographies, and other miscellaneous items you’d like to see published here. We accept submissions and inquiries year-round and look forward to receiving them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With our very best wishes,
Petra Dierkes-Thrun and Sharon Bickle, Co-Editors
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New in our Gallery section: