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The Angel out of the House

Philanthropy and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England

Dorice Williams Elliott

Publication Year: 2002

In The Angel out of the House, Dorice Williams Elliott examines the ways in which novels and other texts that portrayed women performing charitable acts helped to make the inclusion of philanthropic work in the domestic sphere seem natural and obvious. And although many scholars have dismissed women’s volunteer endeavors as merely patriarchal collusion, Elliott argues that the conjunction of novelistic and philanthropic discourse in the works of women writers—among them George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell, Hannah More and Anna Jameson—was crucial to the redefinition of gender roles and class relations.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Cover

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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This project would not have happened without the insight and direction provided by Mary Poovey and Frances Ferguson, who oversaw it in its first incarnation as a dissertation. Thanks should go to many other professors and fellow graduate students at Johns Hopkins, especially Judy Walkowitz, Cynthia Rogers, and William Weaver. Members of the Folger...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-32

The 1893 international exhibition, held in Chicago and dedicated to showcasing the achievements of the nineteenth century, featured a new and unique section devoted to ‘‘women’s work.’’ The contribution of Great Britain to this new department of the exhibition focused on women’s philanthropy and was organized, at the invitation of a Royal...

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Chapter 1: ‘‘An Assured Asylum against Every Evil’’

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pp. 33-53

In 1766 Newton Ogle, deputy clerk of the closet to His Majesty George III, summarized the achievements of mid-eighteenth-century English philanthropists in a charity sermon delivered before the assembled governors of the Magdalen Charity: ‘‘Houses of Charity have been opened for every Malady incident to Man. The Aged, the Maimed, the...

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Chapter 2: ‘‘The Care of the Poor Is Her Profession’’

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pp. 54-80

In an 1841 letter to William Ellery Channing, the critic and historian Lucy Aikin noted that the practice of visiting the poor had now become ‘‘a fashion and a rage’’ among Englishwomen, thanks in large part to a novel published in 1808 by Hannah More, the famous Evangelical...

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Chapter 3: Hannah More’s Heirs

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pp. 81-110

In one of Harriet Martineau’s tales in her Illustrations of Political Economy (1832), a reform-minded surgeon remarks on ‘‘the failure of British benevolence.’’ What Mr. Burke characterizes as a ‘‘failure’’ of benevolence does not come from a lack of sympathy, devoted service, or substantial financial contributions; rather, the ‘‘failure’’ comes from too...

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Chapter 4: ‘‘The Communion of Labor’’ and Lectures to Ladies

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pp. 111-134

‘‘Would you make charity a profession?’’ asks an imaginary antagonist of Anna Jameson in her second lecture on women’s philanthropy, ‘‘The Communion of Labor,’’ in 1856. ‘‘Why not?’’ answers the author. ‘‘Why should not charity be a profession in our sex, just in so far...

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Chapter 5: The Female Visitor and the Marriage of Classes in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

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pp. 135-158

A January 1856 review of F. D. Maurice’s Lectures to Ladies on Practical Subjects addressed a topic that was by now familiar to its audience:

It is plain that this whole matter of visiting among the poor, whether isolated or organized visiting be in question, is the subject of much anxiety to many of the lecturers. . . . It is no wonder...

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Chapter 6: Educating Women’s Desires

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pp. 159-188

In 1859 Bessie Rayner Parkes, the editor of The English Woman’s Journal, contributed an article entitled ‘‘Charity as a Portion of the Public Vocation of Women.’’ Parkes’s title challenges the tenets of domestic ideology that limited women to the private sphere of the home and boldly claims for women a ‘‘public vocation’’ that includes, but is not limited to,...

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Chapter 7: George Eliot’s Middlemarch

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pp. 189-215

In a frequently quoted 1873 review of George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1872), Florence Nightingale took the author to task for creating a noble, idealistic heroine but giving her nothing to do: ‘‘Indeed it is past telling the mischief that is done in thus putting down youthful ideals. There are not too many to begin with. There are few indeed to end with—...

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Conclusion

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pp. 216-222

As I was finishing the manuscript for this book, our university’s theater department staged a production of the English playwright Sarah Daniels’s The Gut Girls (1989).1 This play, which is set in turn-of-the-century Deptford, indicates the continuing relevance of my investigation of representations of women philanthropists. The protagonists are...

Notes

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pp. 223-246

Bibliography

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pp. 247-260

Index

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pp. 261-272


E-ISBN-13: 9780813922010
E-ISBN-10: 0813922011
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813920887
Print-ISBN-10: 0813920884

Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Victorian Literature and Culture Series
Series Editor Byline: Herbert Tucker and Jerome McGann

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Women in literature.
  • Women philanthropists -- England -- History -- 19th century.
  • Women in charitable work -- England -- History -- 19th century.
  • Charity in literature.
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