restricted access School Novels, Women's Work, and Maternal Vocationalism

This article examines three school novels within a framework of maternal vocationalism versus materialist approaches to women's work. It considers the materialist orientation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre with regard to women's teaching work and Brontë's rejection of the maternal vocational model. By contrast, Clemence Dane's 1917 novel, Regiment of Women, valorizes maternal vocational approaches to teaching and decries the single woman professional teacher, invoking as she does so some anti-spinster and anti-lesbian stereotypes. Winifred Holtby's 1936 novel South Riding rejects the maternal vocationalism and anti-spinsterism of Dane's novel and reappropriates Jane Eyre's discourse of equality and the Victorian legacy of materialism.