Aristocratic Women and the Literary Nation, 1832-1867 by M. O'Cinneide

By M. O'Cinneide

Aristocratic girls flourished within the Victorian literary international, their mix of sophistication privilege and gendered exclusion producing distinctively socialized modes of participation in cultural and political job. Their writing deals an important trope wherein to think about the character of political, inner most and public spheres. This e-book is an exam of the literary, social, and political importance of the lives and writings of aristocratic ladies within the mid-Victorian interval.

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Extra info for Aristocratic Women and the Literary Nation, 1832-1867 (Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture)

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The significance of patriarchal inheritance was even more marked for British aristocrats than for their Continental counterparts when it came to matters of naming and selfhood: Lawrence Stone notes how unusual the British elite were in not preserving the mother’s maiden name as an integral part of the child’s identity. 36 Yet Perry also characterises eighteenth-century familial structures as facilitating ‘the dispossession of daughters’ by furthering primogeniture. 38 Then again, being born into families for whom lineage and tradition were significant may have helped upper-class women retain stronger senses of their identities in terms of consanguineous as well as conjugal kinship bonds than did their middle-class contemporaries.

The upshot was that, unlike her aunt, Lamb’s quasi-autobiographical writing proved the final straw and sealed her social exile. The supposed licentiousness of The Sylph may have shocked people, but however happily its contemporary readers presumably speculated on the doomed central couple, they do not seem to have perceived it as a definitive exposure of the Devonshires’ marriage. Moving into the Victorian period with the third-generation member of the family, Lady Georgiana Fullerton’s Ellen Middleton (1844) appears at first to be the furthest of the three novels from the author’s personal experience.

It commences with an examination of the generic traditions of autobiography and biography as the Victorians constructed them. The modes of the spiritual, domestic and scandalous memoir take on distinctive connotations in the context of upper-class social status. I then move onto autobiographical fiction, using three generations of aristocratic women writers to trace the changing representation of personal experience between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Models of Victorian aristocratic authorship gradually emerge that prioritise committed literary engagement with religious and moral values.

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