The Woman Who Did by Grant Allen, and Wormwood: A Drama of Paris by Marie Corelli, and The Story of a Modern Woman by Ella Hepworth Dixon, and The Girl Behind the Keys by Tom Gallon (review)
- Victorian Review
- Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada
- Volume 33, Number 1, 2007
- pp. 144-146
- Additional Information
victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 144 nineteenth-century representations of women on the rails. Home on the Rails is a welcome contribution to the ongoing critical reception of the railroad’s profound influence in the modern world and should be required reading for anyone with an interest inVictorian gender formation and social mobility. Notes 1 The title of Richter’s first chapter. Da n iel M a rtin University of Western Ontario • The Woman Who Did by Grant Allen, edited by Nicholas Ruddick; pp. 238. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2004. $18.95 cloth. Wormwood: A Drama of Paris by Marie Corelli, edited by Kirsten MacLeod; pp. 407. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2004. $19.95 cloth. The Story of a Modern Woman by Ella Hepworth Dixon, edited by Steve Farmer; pp. 295. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2004. $18.95 cloth. The Girl Behind the Keys byTom Gallon, edited by ArleneYoung; pp. 183. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2006. $18.95 cloth. As Broadview editions accumulate it finally becomes possible to teach a real range of Victorian literature—classes focused on a theme or a subgenre or a single decade—as well as to add unfamiliar books to the standard Victorian novel survey. Of course we need to keep assigning them so they will not disappear like the Virago titles of the 1980s and Oxford Popular Classics from about eighteen months in the mid-1990s. (I managed to teach Dinah Craik’s Olive one semester and Grant Allen’s The Woman Who Did the following semester, but everything had vanished by the next academic year.) The titles above have original dates between 1890 and 1903, and any one could be used in several different undergraduate or graduate classes. Ella Hepworth Dixon’sThe Story of a ModernWoman—a woman who struggles to support herself as London journalist—is the one I was happiest to see. I used it immediately in a graduate methods class on periodicals research, where the story made a nice counterpoint to Gissing’s New Grub Street while students spent most of their time buried in library stacks. Steve Farmer’s introduction, 145 Reviews the extracts included as ancillary material, and the fine bibliography provide a summary of the 1890s New Woman debates and the 1990s New Woman scholarship. The notes are intelligently done (and not overdone), with contexts when useful, as well as definitions. Only after I taught the novel did I encounter its first publication as an illustrated serial beginning 6 January 1894 in The Lady’s Pictorial,a sixpenny women’s weekly and truly interesting example of the work Dixon and her heroine performed. In addition to fiction, the magazine contained articles on women’s sports, pictures of prize winners from the London School of Medicine for Women, and a great many pages of answers to correspondents on music, art, fashion, etiquette, beauty, fancy work, furnishings, children, pets, health, cookery, antiques, graphology, and (I suspect) just about any other subject its writers knew anything about.There must be a great deal of Dixon’s journalism lurking in periodicals of this sort, and I do hope someone is looking for it. With The Story of a Modern Woman and Mary Ward’s Marcella added to books by Gissing and Hardy and Schreiner, plus the collections of short fiction and essays and maybe Ouida’s Moths for the sake of argument, it would actually now be possible to teach a NewWoman course with Broadview titles alone. I used Oxford’s TheWomanWho Did (and a lot of photocopies) a decade ago, and I have to say that between Nicholas Ruddick’s introduction to this Broadview edition and Peter Morton’s outstanding new book from Palgrave Macmillan, “The Busiest Man in England”: Grant Allen and the Writing Trade, 1875–1900, I am almost convinced it would be worth teaching again, even though it must be the most annoying book ever called a New Woman novel. Ruddick argues persuasively that GrantAllen was a feminist in his own terms—and also demonstrates that those terms not only offend us but also offended advanced women among his contemporaries, if not for the same reasons.Although most of the well-chosen contemporary materials in the appendices are very short...