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  • Mary Augusta Ward’s “Perfect Economist” and the Logic of Anti-Suffragism

This article exposes the engagement of Mary Augusta Ward’s Marcella (1894) with the emergent academic discipline of economics, drawing connections between Ward’s influential novel and texts by the economic thinkers John Ruskin, Beatrice Webb, and Alfred Marshall. Marcella, I contend, represents gendered forms of economic knowledge, and this representation expresses the often misunderstood “difference feminism” that informs both Ward’s anti-suffrage stance and her advocacy for women’s education. Bringing together historical scholarship on the professionalization of economics and literary scholarship on nineteenth-century feminisms, this reading of Ward’s novel proposes that economic learning plays an important role in the thinking that shapes the British anti-suffrage movement.

In 1900, Beatrice Webb asked her friend Mary Augusta Ward, better known as Mrs. Humphry Ward, to write the preface for her Case For the Factory Acts (1901), a collection of essays on industry and labor by women. In her preface, Ward announces that the volume “is written by a group of students and practical workers well acquainted with the subjects on which they speak; and at their head stands that brilliant writer, economist and historian, Mrs Sidney Webb.” Then, in a syntactically elaborate manoeuvre, Ward bends slowly into a posture of abject deference: “For one who, like myself, has no special knowledge of the great matters with which they deal, to dwell in terms of criticism or even of praise on the work of writers led and marshalled by one of the two authors of ‘Industrial Democracy’ would be impertinent and absurd.”1 In this performance of self-deprecation, this careful reference to Webb’s co-author and husband, and, most of all, this perceived threat of impertinence and absurdity lurking near “special knowledge” on the “great matters” of economics, there is a pattern of thinking that deserves our critical attention. A significant body of work on the politics of Ward and other late Victorian conservative women has developed in the last decade, explaining the often misunderstood relationship between their support for women’s higher education and their advocacy for the anti-suffrage cause, and identifying in their views a feminism that is no longer easily legible as such: a “difference feminism” that claims specific capacities and responsibilities for each of the sexes rather than equality between them.2 This article extends that body of scholarship by reading Ward’s Marcella (1894) with a focus on its treatment of economic learning and expertise, considering the novel in a context that also includes the economic thinkers Webb, John Ruskin, and Alfred Marshall.

As we attempt to grasp the now-elusive logic of difference feminism, insights from the history of economic thought and from literary studies are mutually illuminating. Scholars interested in the way that Ward’s novels express her anti-suffrage views have tended (quite reasonably) to turn to the novel in which she treats suffrage most explicitly and at [End Page 1213] greatest length, Delia Blanchflower (1914).3 We should note, however, that Delia Blanchflower’s discussion of suffrage returns repeatedly to the topics of women’s “economic independence” and economic subjection.4 Ward shows us her eponymous heroine, moreover, “trying to read Marshall’s ‘Economics of Industry’”; she refers here to the textbook written not just by Marshall but also by his wife, the sometime economist Mary Paley Marshall.5 I want to suggest that Marcella, albeit in less overt ways, also engages with Marshall and the emerging academic discipline that he worked to establish, and that, as in Delia Blanchflower, this engagement with economics expresses ideas about relations between men and women. The novel, I contend, stages a comparison between gendered varieties of economic knowledge, and Ward’s representation of them is an articulation of the difference feminism that informs her anti-suffrage stance. The centrality of economic knowledge in this articulation of difference feminism should provoke us to consider anew the force of ideas about economic learning within the thinking that shapes the British anti-suffrage movement. And the significance of economic learning in Ward’s thought, moreover, should draw our attention to Marshall’s remarkable role in the gendering of the academic discipline over which he presided; this role is generally acknowledged by historians of economic thought and higher education, but remains less widely recognized in literary scholarship on the history of gender and feminism.

During the era when Ward wrote her novels, “political economy,” a field of inquiry with roots in eighteenth-century moral philosophy, was becoming the professional, mathematicized academic discipline of “economics” that we now know. At the close of the twentieth century, feminist scholarship identified economics as “the most male of the social sciences.”6 “Home economics,” in contrast, has tended to be feminized and associated with primary, secondary, or vocational education rather than higher education and research.7 Of course, this gendered division of knowledge has a history: by the later nineteenth century, “political economy addressed itself to the public sphere while domestic economy remained in the private. In its expansion, the contrast was evident from the very form of the discourse: political economy took the form of a science dealing with the operation of laws, whereas domestic economy remained the art of managing household resources.”8 Ruskin plays subversively with these divergent meanings when he insists that “economics” must be understood as oeconomicus or oikonomia, which he translates as “House-law.”9 “Economy,” he declares, is “the administration of a house; its stewardship; spending or saving, that is, [End Page 1214] whether money or time, or anything else, to the best possible advantage” (CW, 16:19). When he writes of a “perfect economist,” he is making reference to a woman, the “mistress of a household” who fosters justice and beauty through her habits of consumption (CW, 16:20). Ruskin’s attention to the female, domestic version of the economist, along with his preference for Xenophon’s Oeconomicus over more recent political-economic writing, is part of his generally oppositional stance towards mainstream nineteenth-century political economy.

The gendering of professionalized economics is overdetermined and perhaps even inevitable, not least because professionalized academe as a whole was overwhelmingly male in its origins. But one historian of economic thought notes that “contrary to popular belief, women contributed more widely to economic debate in relative terms in the initial years of the professionalization of the subject in England, than they have done ever since”; it was during the twentieth century that the proportion of published scholarly work by women in the discipline diminished.10 Marcella participates in the construction of the cultural context for that decline. H. G. Wells wrote archly of “the little shoal of young women who were led into politico-philanthropic activities by the influence of the earlier novels of Mrs Humphry Ward—the Marcella crop.”11 This reading will suggest that the influence Wells observes involves consequential assumptions about women’s work with “special knowledge” of the economic sort.

Marcella tells the tale of the young, well-born Marcella Boyce, who leaves her “Venturist” socialist circle in London to take up residence at her family’s rural estate when it unexpectedly comes into her father’s possession. She encounters obstacles in her efforts to improve the living conditions of tenants there, and accepts the marriage proposal of her dashing and politically prominent Tory neighbour in hopes that this union with the powerful Aldous Raeburn, Lord Maxwell of Maxwell Court, will give her new resources for doing good. Complications arise, however: when he is caught poaching, the poor laborer Jim Hurd shoots and kills the Raeburns’ gamekeeper. Marcella becomes increasingly entangled with the caddish, decadent Radical politician Harry Wharton, who defends Hurd in court. Distraught at Aldous’s refusal to rescue Hurd, whom she believes is a victim, she backs out of her engagement and gives herself over to the profession of nursing. After an edifying stint as a nurse in the London slums, Marcella finally returns to Aldous, this time for love. Her socialism moderated and her pride chastened, she looks ahead to a life of doing good in her new role as Lady Maxwell. Conspicuously engaged with the thought [End Page 1215] of both Ruskin and Alfred Toynbee, Marcella comments on a startling number of the issues of its day: Fabian socialism, upper-class slumming, and nursing as a profession for women, to name just a few. Judith Wilt calls it “the last of the great condition-of-England novels” and observes that by “soldiering on in the militancy of the stopgap… Marcella arrives at the closest thing to a political creed Ward can assert: that every important idea for a new social edifice—Christianity, the nation-state, socialism—is at best a moment in the transition to, well, probably something other than the blueprint it thinks it is working toward, the goal it thinks it seeks.”12

Ward’s intensely topical book, which can be read as a Bildungsroman about a New Woman who must decide how to spend her inherited wealth, is notably preoccupied with questions about economic consumption and about women’s education. In these respects as in others, it is a rewriting of Middlemarch for the fin de siècle.13 Marcella’s attempts to educate herself on matters of economics recall those of George Eliot’s heroine. Dorothea, like Marcella, has “her particular little heap of books on political economy and kindred matters, out of which she was trying to get light as to the best way of spending money so as not to injure one’s neighbors, or—what comes to the same thing—so as to do them the most good”; she finds herself “twitted with her ignorance of political economy, that never-explained science which was thrust as an extinguisher over all her lights.” Her uncle Mr. Brooke remarks to her, “Young ladies don’t understand political economy, you know.”14 Later in the century, the males in Marcella politely refrain from making such comment, but their superior knowledge is much more real than Mr Brooke’s. And Marcella, like Middlemarch, carefully represents the difficulties of the female autodidact whose formal education has been limited because of her sex.

The fact that Ward was a strident advocate for female education in addition to the anti-suffrage cause has seemed to many twentieth-century readers at best intellectually incoherent and at worst shamefully hypocritical. Ward’s biographer John Sutherland notes that although she was “the moving spirit” in establishing Somerville College as a site for women’s education at Oxford in the late 1870s, by the next decade, “she had swivelled round to an intractable opposition to her sex’s emancipation.”15 More recent studies by Beth Sutton-Ramspeck, Maroula Joannou, and Julia Bush suggest, however, that Ward’s trajectory was perhaps not so much a swivel as a straight line: her support for women’s higher education and her opposition to women’s suffrage both fit within her historically specific difference feminism.16 Bush’s [End Page 1216] work on the conservative women (including Ward) who both opposed suffrage and worked to found women’s colleges explains the logic that made these positions mutually supporting. “Far from accepting any inherent contradiction between championing women’s education and refusing them the vote,” she writes, “[Ward] argued that the two were directly connected”: “improvements in women’s education were regarded as a means of reinforcing women’s ordained role in society, and enhancing its influence without any dangerous claims to universal gender equality.”17 Ward’s Oxford friend Louise Creighton articulates this stance clearly: “[T]he wife and mother, the mistress of a household, can see no limit to her beneficent activities. To fit her for so wide a sphere, no education can be too high; she needs not the higher only but the highest, and she needs, above all, to continue her education through life.”18 In shedding light on the interconnected set of ideas that inform Ward’s advocacy for both female education and the anti-suffrage cause, work by Bush and others suggests that that the novelist’s representations of female learning need to be understood as part of her argument about the vote.

Ward was proud of the work she did with Creighton to found Somerville; she recounts somewhat defensively in her memoir, A Writer’s Recollections (1918): “My friends and I were all on fire for women’s education … But hardly any of us were at all on fire for woman suffrage.” She explains that they believed “that the development of women’s power in the State—or rather, in such a state as England, with its far-reaching and Imperial obligations, resting ultimately on the sanction of war—should be on lines of its own.”19 Here Ward articulates the same argument against suffrage that appears in her influential 1889 “Appeal against Female Suffrage,” which, Sutherland notes, “was a propaganda triumph, and in histories of British feminism is plausibly credited with helping hold back the cause of votes for women for years.”20 The “Appeal” declares: “While desiring the fullest possible development of the powers, energies, and education of women, we believe that their work for the State, and their responsibilities towards it, must always differ essentially from those of men.” Ward goes on to assert that the influence of women in politics “does … tell already, and will do so with greater force as women improved by education fit themselves to exert it more widely and efficiently. … [T]his moral influence … depends largely on qualities which the natural position and functions of women as they are at present tend to develop, and which might be seriously impaired by their admission to the turmoil of active political life. These qualities are, above all, sympathy and [End Page 1217] disinterestedness.”21 Ward reiterates her argument on suffrage and sexual difference in the modern imperial state in two important antisuffrage texts from 1908, the Anti-Suffrage League manifesto in The Nineteenth Century and a piece for an American audience in the Ladies’ Home Journal. In the former, she writes: “Women are ‘not undeveloped men but diverse,’ and the more complex the development of any State, the more diverse. Difference, not inferiority—it is on that we take our stand.”22

Ward’s quotation here from Tennyson’s Princess (1847) gives voice to ideas also expressed in Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies (1865). “We are foolish, and without excuse foolish, in speaking of the ‘superiority’ of one sex to the other, as if they could be compared in similar things,” Ruskin writes; “each has what the other has not: each completes the other: they are nothing alike, and the happiness and perfection of both depends on each asking and receiving from the other what the other only can give” (CW, 18:121). That Ruskin heavily influences Ward is well known. But Marcella’s representation of learning engages with Sesame and Lilies in ways that have not been fully recognized. A dual concern with political economy and female education characterizes both texts, and both texts locate their treatment of education in a discussion of reading and of libraries—or, as Ruskin calls them, “Kings’ Treasuries” (CW, 18:53).

As critics have noted, Ward calls upon autobiographical material in representing Marcella’s scattershot education and its effects.23 In a frequently quoted passage from her memoir, Ward testifies to the injustice of her early years:

As far as intellectual training was concerned, my nine years from seven to sixteen were practically wasted. I learned nothing thoroughly or accurately, and the German, French, and Latin which I soon discovered after my marriage to be essential to the kind of literary work I wanted to do, had all to be relearned before they could be of any real use to me; nor was it ever possible for me—who married at twenty—to get that firm hold on the structure and literary history of any language, ancient or modern, which my brother William, only fifteen months my junior, got from his six years at Rugby, and his training there in Latin and Greek.

(WR, 1:129–30)

Ward’s heroine endures a similar lack of education, especially compared to the men around her, and this causes her pain and humiliation. This humiliation plays out in Aldous’s study, which contains his personal library. Ward lavishes description upon this site in order to communicate the character of its owner: [End Page 1218]

The room was lined with books, partly temporary visitors from the great library downstairs, partly his old college books and prizes, and partly representing small collections for special studies. Here were a large number of volumes, blue books, and pamphlets, bearing on the condition of agriculture and the rural poor in England and abroad; there were some shelves devoted to general economics, and on a little table by the fire lay the recent numbers of various economic journals, English and foreign. Between the windows stood a small philosophical bookcase.24

Aldous prefers these subjects (along with some poetry and some criticism) over novels, the narrator tells us, because “[h]is mind was mostly engaged in a slow wrestle with difficult and unmanageable fact” (M, 90).

When she is visiting Aldous’s home and getting to know him, we read, Marcella, “still nervous, went to look at the bookshelves, and found herself in front of that working collection of books on economics which Aldous kept in his own room under his hand, by way of guide to the very fine special collection he was gradually making in the library down stairs” (M, 139). Marcella’s agency notably diminishes over the course of this sentence: she actively goes to look at the books but then passively finds herself in front of them. There is a shift in scale here, moreover, in which the reader gathers that the first collection of books on economics is actually just a guide to a larger collection downstairs; this anticipates the analogous shift in scale that is imminent, in which Marcella realizes that the whole of her intellectual terrain is a tiny spot on a much vaster map. What had seemed a capacious expanse is suddenly and terribly revealed to be a meagre speck:

Here again were surprises for her. Aldous had never made the smallest claim to special knowledge on all those subjects she had so often insisted on making him discuss. He had been always tentative and diffident, deferential even so far as her own opinions were concerned. And here already was the library of a student. All the books she had ever read or heard discussed were here—and as few among many. The condition of them, moreover, the signs of close and careful reading she noticed in them, as she took them out, abashed her: she had never learnt to read this way. It was her first contact with an exact and arduous culture. She thought of how she had instructed Lord Maxwell at luncheon. No doubt he shared his grandson’s interests. Her cheek burned anew; this time because it seemed to her that she had been ridiculous.

(M, 139)

The language in this scene notably resembles the language that features in Ward’s Preface to Webb’s Factory Acts: in both cases, a lack of “special knowledge” on economic subjects—possessed by Webb in the [End Page 1219] preface and by Aldous in the novel—makes the woman who presumes to share an opinion “impertinent and absurd” or, in this Marcella’s case, “ridiculous.”

Ward’s emphasis on “close and careful reading” in this scene about Aldous’s “special knowledge” as revealed in his economics books recalls Ruskin’s stringent instructions in “Of Kings’ Treasuries” on the practice of “the kind of word-by-word examination of your author which is rightly called ‘reading’” (CW, 18:75). One must read, Ruskin advises, as an “Australian miner” works: “[T]he metal you are in search of being the author’s mind or meaning, his words are as the rock which you have to crush and smelt in order to get at it. And your pickaxes are your own care, wit, and learning; your smelting furnace is your own thoughtful soul. Do not hope to get at any good author’s meaning without those tools and that fire” (CW, 18:64). Ruskin’s right reading means constant attention to etymology: “Now, in order to deal with words rightly, this is the habit you must form. Nearly every word in your language has first been a word in some other language … retaining a deep vital meaning which all good scholars feel in employing them, even at this day” (CW, 18:68)—here we might think of Ward’s lack of the “German, French, and Latin which I soon discovered … to be essential to the kind of literary work I wanted to do.” Ruskin’s mention of “good scholars” of course implies that there are bad ones. Marcella’s burning cheek makes sense in the context of his declaration that “the entire difference between education and non-education (as regards the merely intellectual part of it) consists in this accuracy” of right reading, and adds that “the accent, or turn of expression of a single sentence, will at once mark a scholar. And this is so strongly felt, so conclusively admitted, by educated persons, that a false accent or mistaken syllable is enough, in the parliament of any civilized nation, to assign to a man a certain degree of inferior standing for ever” (CW, 18:65). As this last line makes explicit, Ruskin’s lecture is addressed to men. Marcella considers what “degree of inferior standing” such false moves might assign to a woman.

When Ruskin states in the companion lecture addressed to women, “you may chisel a boy into shape, as you would a rock, or hammer him into it,” he evokes the Australian-miner pickaxe mode of reading and affirms it as a masculine practice. “But,” he continues, “you cannot hammer a girl into anything. She grows as a flower does.” Hence: “Let her loose in the library, I say, as you do a fawn in a field” (CW, 18:131). Aldous replicates Ruskin’s argument that male learning should be laborious, painstaking, and structured, whereas female [End Page 1220] learning may be free, intuitive, and emotional; he writes to his friend of Marcella:

[Her] mind has all sorts of ability; comes to the right conclusion by a divine instinct, ignoring the how and why. What does such a being want with the drudgery of learning? to such keenness life will be master enough. Yet she has evidently read a good deal—much poetry, some scattered political economy, some modern socialistic books, Matthew Arnold, Ruskin, Carlyle. She takes everything dramatically, imaginatively, goes straight from it to life, and back again.

(M, 91)

This view recalls Ruskin’s remark that “it is not the object of education to turn the woman into a dictionary; but it is deeply necessary that she should be taught to enter with her whole personality into the history she reads; to picture the passages of it vitally in her own bright imagination; to apprehend, with her fine instincts, the pathetic circumstances and dramatic relations, which the historian too often only eclipses by his reasoning” (CW, 16:126). Ruskin and Aldous both understand women’s learning as an emotionally charged process of extending instinctive sympathy—and both value it as such. It is the counterpart to a masculine learning grounded in the “drudgery” of rationally and laboriously mining facts and arguments from text.

We should remember that Ruskin’s girl reader, wandering like a fawn in the library, safe in her inviolable innocence, figures within a statement that was understood in its own time as a strong endorsement for women’s education, an exhortation to “let a girl’s education be as serious as a boy’s” (CW, 18:132).25 Ward herself seems to have experienced, and valued, some such fawnish wanderings when she secured a reader’s pass to the Bodleian as a young woman in Oxford: in those years, she recalls in her memoir, “I had no definite teaching, and everything I learned came to me from persons—and books—sporadically, without any general guidance or plan. It was all a great voyage of discovery, organized mainly by myself, on the advice of a few men and women very much older, who took an interest in me and were endlessly kind to the shy and shapeless creature I must have been” (WR, 1:137). One of those older advisors was Mark Pattison; encouraged by him, she made herself an expert in medieval Spanish history and in 1883, as she reported to her mother, became the university’s “first woman examiner of men.” Nevertheless, Sutherland comments, “Surrounded all her adult life by the best-trained minds of her time, Mary was always bitter at the institutional neglect of her brain, simply because it was a female brain.”26 That bitterness finds expression both in [End Page 1221] the account of Marcella’s searing humiliation when faced with Aldous’s books about economics and in the passage in her memoir about the “wasted” years of her youth.

That passage notably mentions Webb. Having identified Webb as an exception in the 1901 preface to The Factory Acts, Ward does so again in her 1918 memoir. After describing her own inadequate education, she remarks on the “vast” changes in women’s lives since her youth, but adds the following:

Exceptional women, of course, have led much the same kind of lives in all generations. Mrs. Sidney Webb has gone through a very different sort of self-education from that of Harriet Martineau; but she has not thought more widely, and she will hardly influence her world so much as that stanch fighter of the past. It is the rank and file—the average woman—for whom the world has opened up so astonishingly.

(WR, 1:132)

In what is more or less an aside, Ward compares Webb rather invidiously with Martineau, another female economist. More significant, however, is the fact that in both preface and memoir Ward identifies Webb as an exemplary anomaly, one that permits her to draw a distinction between such an unusual case and “one who … has no special knowledge” (as she puts it in the preface) or “the rank and file—the average woman” (as she puts it in her memoir). “Exceptional women” have always been able speak authoritatively on matters related to their “special knowledge”; the great recent opening up has happened not for them but for “the average woman,” who previously (like the writer herself) has risked being “impertinent and absurd” or (like Marcella) “ridiculous”—in her attempts to participate in intellectual life.

These ideas about the capacities and educations of women average and exceptional are part of Ward’s anti-suffrage thinking. She refers to the concept of the “exceptional” woman, along with “specialized knowledge,” in her 1908 article in The Nineteenth Century: “The modern State depends for its very existence … on the physical force of men, combined with the trained and specialized knowledge which men alone are able to get, because women, on whom the child-bearing and child-rearing of the world rest, have no time and no opportunity to get it. The difference in these respects between even the educated man and the educated woman—exceptions apart—is evident to us all.”27 Ward suggests that women’s childbearing ability will always necessarily prevent them from having time and opportunity, and thus that biology makes it impossible for women—“exceptions apart”—to [End Page 1222] gain “trained and specialized knowledge.” For Ward, this essentially logistical problem is permanent and natural rather than socially determined and thus subject to change. Although Ward’s recourse to biology refers to women’s natural, permanent logistical difficulties rather than women’s natural, permanent intellectual inferiority, she nevertheless understands these biological facts to be firm. In her contribution to Ladies’ Home Journal during the same year, she refers to the “trained knowledge of the world and its affairs, which only men can get,” and clarifies that “it is their natural business to get it; they are not held back from getting it by the cares of the home and family; and, as far as we can see, it must always remain their business, by virtue of a natural selection, against which it is childish to fight.”28 A vote by women, she writes, would be “an ignorance-vote which is imposed by nature and irreparable.”29

Ward’s mention of “natural selection” in her discussion of the impositions of “nature” is significant; her theory of gender rests on “difference, not inferiority,” but both here and in Marcella, her expressions of that theory borrow language from a Darwinian discourse that does believe women to be naturally intellectually inferior. These passing references draw from a body of thought within which race, evolution, imperialism, reproduction, and motherhood are closely interrelated matters: Bush notes that “evolutionary discourse strengthened imperialist rhetoric and influenced the views of conservative women who believed that natural selection underlined the significance of women’s distinctive social role.”30 Language drawn from this evolutionary discourse also appears frequently in statements by Marshall. His biographer Peter Groenewegen notes that the economist “gained the belief in the relative mental inferiority of women from the pioneers of evolutionary theory themselves … [both Darwin and Spencer] explicitly argued women’s mental inferiority to men as a justification for a sexual division of labor which, in particular, had important implications for policies on women’s education.” Like many thinkers in his time, Groenewegen observes, Marshall understood “the family, and the necessary role of women in the family environment,” as the crucial basis for “race progress and national survival.”31

It is noteworthy that the books that provoke Marcella’s moment of humiliation are books in economics; and that the woman who stands out as the “exception” that proves the rule of women’s general unsuitability for gaining “special knowledge” and thus suffrage is a woman whose “special knowledge” is economic. When we consider the way that economic knowledge serves in Ward’s work to point towards the [End Page 1223] average woman’s limitations, it may be useful to keep in mind that in the years of it professionalization, the discipline was dominated by a thinker dedicated to preventing women from doing the kind of work he did. Amongst historians of higher education for women, there is consensus on the fact that Marshall did much to limit progress, notably authoring an influential pamphlet against the admission of women for degrees at Cambridge in 1896. His denouncement was especially powerful because he had supported women’s higher education in the 1870s, and had in fact married one of his former students; his wife Mary Paley Marshall was an accomplished lecturer in political economy until she ceased teaching after Alfred took up his Cambridge chair.32 Historians of economic thought also tend to agree on the subject of Marshall’s regrettable attitudes towards women; John Maynard Keynes refers to “a congenital bias” against women that by middle age had “gathered secret strength” in the economist.33

Marshall’s influence in his discipline was considerable. His Principles of Economics, first published in 1890, served as the dominant textbook in the field for the next four decades, and remained in use up through the mid-twentieth century. Upon his friend Benjamin Jowett’s invitation, Marshall had replaced Toynbee as lecturer in political economy at Balliol in 1882, after his predecessor’s premature death—a succession that David Reisman describes as an instance of “one social missionary relieving another while keeping the nature of the mission surprisingly unaltered.”34 (Ward, close with Toynbee and Jowett, had left Oxford during the previous year; she and Marshall—as well as Webb—moved in the same Oxford and London circles.)35 Marshall was shortly thereafter summoned to take up the chair of political economy at Cambridge in 1885. Throughout his career, he was a key figure in the professionalization of the discipline within the modern research university: Rita McWilliams Tullberg calls him the “chief spokesperson” for the discipline as it professionalized, noting that he shaped curricula at the newer universities as well as Cambridge and pointing to H. S. Foxwell’s 1888 remark that “half the economic chairs in the U.K. are occupied by [Marshall’s] pupils and the share taken by them in general economic instruction in England is even larger than this.”36

Given that they moved in the same circles, it is perhaps not surprising that Ward’s “exceptional” woman would clash with Marshall. In her memoir, Webb gives a detailed account of that encounter. The two economic thinkers met in March 1889, when Webb—who was at that point Miss Potter—visited her friends the Creightons in Cambridge and conversed with Professor Marshall.37 The professor and Miss [End Page 1224] Potter speak first about marriage; their “interesting talk,” she writes, begins “with chaff about men and women: he holding that woman was a subordinate being, and that, if she ceased to be subordinate, there would be no object for a man to marry.”38 “Hence,” Webb’s account continues, “the woman must not develop her faculties in a way unpleasant to the man … that rivalry in men’s pursuits was positively unpleasant. … Contrast was the essence of the matrimonial relation.” Webb reports that the economist laughs as he says, “‘If you compete with us we shan’t marry you.’” Upon hearing that Miss Potter intends to write a history of the consumer cooperative movement, Marshall tries to dissuade her: “[O]f course I think you are equal to a history of Co-operation,” he states, “but it is not what you can do best.” Urging her to focus instead on a study of “women’s labour,” he declares: “There are any number of men who could write a history of Co-operation, and would bring to this study of a purely economic question far greater strength and knowledge than you possess.”39 In writing a book on cooperation, he tells her, “you will be using faculties which are common to most men, and given to a great many among them in a much higher degree. A book by you on the Co-operative Movement I may get my wife to read me in the evening to while away the time, but I shan’t pay any attention to it.”40

Webb explicitly links Marshall’s understanding of her abilities as an economic thinker to Ward’s views on suffrage, commenting on this anecdote, “I suspect what lay at the bottom of Professor Marshall’s high opinion of my unique qualifications for the alternative question of woman’s labour, namely, that I was at that time known to be an anti-feminist. In the spring of 1889 I took what afterwards seemed to me a false step in joining with others in signing the then notorious manifesto, drafted by Mrs. Humphry Ward and some other distinguished ladies, against the political enfranchisement of women.”41 Webb refers here to Ward’s “Appeal,” which was published in the June following these Cambridge chats with Marshall. During that same June, both Webb and Marshall attended the Annual Co-operative Congress at Ipswich. There, Marshall gave the Inaugural Address, and he and Webb once again skirmished on the subject of “men and women.”42 In conversation with others, the professor moved to defend Webb against criticism of her support for the “Appeal,” stating to her critics (as she records it), “Miss Potter sees what the women suffrage people do not see; that if women attempt to equal men and be independent of their guidance and control, the strong woman will be ignored and the weak woman [End Page 1225] simply starved. It is not likely that men will go on marrying if they are to have competitors for wives. Contrast is the only basis of marriage.”43

Marshall sees a function for competition in the marketplace, but not in the home. His perfect economist is male because a female economist would mean “competition” or “rivalry” between the sexes, rather than a cooperative arrangement in which the abilities and achievements of each complement those of the other. He shares Ruskin’s view of the sexes, believing that “each has what the other has not: each completes the other” (18:121). As we have seen, Ward also shares that view, and she too identifies “sex-rivalry” as the dire consequence of women’s misguided quest for equality.44 Marshall, following Darwin, did actually understand women to be intellectually inferior; but the argument he expresses to Webb does not focus upon such inferiority. Rather, he focuses on this kind of rivalry or competition, and he emphasizes that women should not be economists because allowing women to take on the work of men would destroy the institution of marriage as it then existed. (About this, it should be noted, Marshall was not wrong.) Webb’s narrative of these spats with Marshall forms a suggestive backdrop to the humiliations Marcella endures in the presence of Aldous’s economics books and journals; and it usefully suggests that as we try to understand the novel’s treatment of economic knowledge, we should also be thinking about its treatment of marriage.

On her path to the marriage that concludes her Bildung, Marcella engages with economic questions by devising various schemes to help the poor. These schemes manifest a strategy of experiment: they are temporary, imperfect, flexible plans to do good in a time of transition, and they are driven by a powerful emotional response to the sight of human pain. Marcella remarks to Aldous about one such scheme: “[I]t may turn out to be a mistake. But—whatever happens—whatever any of us, Socialists or not, may hope for in the future—here one is with one’s conscience, and one’s money, and these people, who like oneself have but the one life!” (M, 523). Acting immediately, she implies, is more important than determining the perfect action. Confronted with suffering, she feels compelled to address it. To Lord Maxwell, she explains: “It is when I go down from our house to the village; when I see the places the people live in … if I don’t do something—the little such a person as I can—to alter it before I die, I might as well never have lived.”45 She also says to him, “Of course, you think me very ridiculous … But it can’t make any difference to one’s feeling: nothing touches that” (M, 131). Thinking back on this conversation only a short time later in Aldous’s library, Marcella’s cheek will burn [End Page 1226] as she feels “she had been ridiculous” (M, 139). But here, in the conversation itself, she designates a way out of that ridiculousness: her female “feeling,” untouchable and impervious to male critique, makes her ridiculousness irrelevant.

In order to do good by acting upon “feeling,” Marcella requires a certain autonomy. As she proposes to Aldous that her private philanthropic spending will substitute (temporarily) for larger-scale labor unionization, she asks him, “What ought to prevent my free will anticipating a moment—since I can do it—that we all want to see?” (M, 523). This individual “free will” is central to Marcella’s strategy for doing good, and Ward’s novel intervenes conspicuously in a contemporary debate that pits individualism against collectivism, the former associated with the confident laissez-faire principles of the earlier nineteenth century and the latter with socialism and the emerging welfare state.46 Sutton-Ramspeck and Nicole B. Meller note that Ward expresses her pragmatic gradualism regarding individualist free will as the partner of collectivism elsewhere as well, pointing to her remark that “irregular and individualistic experiments are the necessary pioneers and accompaniments with us of all collective action.”47 As they observe, the novel’s statement on the proper balance between individualism and collectivism finds its sharpest articulation in the mouth of the doomed, saintly character Edward Hallin. Modelled on Toynbee, Hallin voices an argument for a qualified acceptance of individualistic economic liberalism that also takes moral and practical responsibility for its consequences.

That Marcella’s individualist schemes involve a female exercising “free will” by acting upon altruistic “feeling” is significant, because the individualism central to mainstream political economy generally imagines the individual to be a male acting upon rational self-interest. This body of political-economic thought claims as its central analytical device homo economicus, or the rational actor motivated by self-interest. Negative accounts of political economy such as Ruskin’s tend to allege that the “soi-disant science” takes this economic man as a universal, comprehensive (and thus prescriptive, or at least enabling) model for human behaviour—as indeed many applications and vulgarized versions of it did and do (CW, 17:25). But Ruskin’s polemic disdain works to obscure the fact that key thinkers like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill were both careful moralists quite aware of motivations other than self-interest. And in the last three decades of the nineteenth century, the idea of the self-interested rational actor was being productively complicated as understandings of consumer desire grew increasingly [End Page 1227] sophisticated. Marshall was a part of these developments, not least in the overtly Ruskinian elements of his thinking; Keynes observed that “it was only through Ethics that he reached Economics.”48 One of Marshall’s chief emphases is that economic analysis must consider altruistic motives as it seeks to understand and predict human behaviours in the economic realm; in his Principles of Economics, he writes, “[E]thical forces are among those of which the economist has to take account. Attempts have indeed been made to construct an abstract science with regard to the actions of an ‘economic man,’ who is under no ethical influences and who pursues pecuniary gain warily and energetically, but mechanically and selfishly. But they have not been successful, nor even thoroughly carried out.”49

Ward does not represent this cutting-edge economics that recognizes altruistic motives; she represents the misguided “abstract science” that Marshall, presiding from his chair at Cambridge, aims to reform. Making (male) economics the province of self-interest allows her to make altruism the province of women. Marcella recognizes an “employers’ political economy” that assumes the self-interest of the individual and is concerned exclusively with maximizing profit; it associates this body of thought with a simple-minded manufacturer and with Conservative views (M, 461; see M, 323). Although the novel regards this political economy critically, it tends to present its principles as true: the laws that classical political economy controversially defines as “natural” would seem to be so in the fictional world of the text, even though the narrator treats them with irony and even though the heroine sets herself against them. Marcella’s failure to understand the political-economic law that private self-interest may yield public good is one of the many markers of her immaturity in the first part of the book. She inhabits a world of economic laws that she rejects; even as she rejects those laws, her efforts to do good play out in a world governed by them, and her successes illustrate their truth. Ward suggests paradoxically that the laws of political economy are true, and that we need people to disagree with them. Gender resolves this paradox: male political economy must coexist with female resistance to political economy. And both the male practice of self-interest and the female practice of sympathy require an individualist politics that permits each of them to realize their respective tendencies.

Marcella’s misunderstandings of economic law tend to come to the surface in discussions of consumption. Having viewed Aldous’s gorgeous home full of art treasures, she cries intemperately at him that the poor lack certain amenities “because you—we—have got too [End Page 1228] much. You have the tapestry—and—and the pictures … and this wonderful house—and the park” (M, 127). Marcella’s statement about luxury consumption is an angry, ungrammatical outburst, but it is also a clear statement about causality: the poor must consume little, Marcella says, because the rich consume so much. The novel, however, suggests that this emotional impulse towards asceticism ignores fundamental economic law. Luxury spending, Ward implies, in fact aids the poor by driving demand for labour and goods, and thus improving the economy as a whole. Here she expresses a key argument from classical political economy: the self-interest of the rational actor, freely exercised in a marketplace, ultimately yields benefits for all.

This logic appears in Marcella when we learn that at Maxwell Court luxury is a mode of philanthropy: “[T]he new drive was being made, and a piece of ornamental water enlarged and improved—mainly for the sake of giving employment in bad times” (M, 149). When Lady Winterbourne recounts that during a hard winter she asked her husband, out of deference to their impoverished tenants, to refrain from buying her “a new set of sables”; Aldous’s clever great aunt replies, “Well, my dear … if nobody bought sables, there’d be other poor people up in Russia, isn’t it?—or Hudson’s Bay?—badly off. One has to think of that” (M, 128–29). Aldous gives this remark “only a slight smile,” for, we are told, he “had long ago left his great-aunt to work out her own economics” (129). But in an exchange later in the novel, Aldous’s economics would seem to resemble his great aunt’s rather closely. Marcella complains that the game-hunting of the aristocracy is a wasteful and damaging luxury. “You don’t think,” she asks Aldous, “that the country would be the better, if we could do away with game to-morrow? He replies: “No more than I think it would be better… if we could do away with gold plate and false hair tomorrow. There would be too many hungry goldsmiths and wig-makers on the streets” (M, 174). This argument for luxury consumption embraces the law that defines self-interest as the driving force of economic development and thus of social welfare.50

Ward repeatedly casts Marcella as the person flouting such laws by choosing altruism over self-interest, and positions Aldous as the person who observes her mistakenly ignoring fundamental economic principles. Marcella organizes the village women in a straw-plaiting business in which she pays them above-market rate for their work. She admits that “of course, we don’t expect to pay our way”—and that she will be able to sell the product only because “there is a London shop Lady Winterbourne knows will take what they make if it turns [End Page 1229] out well” (M, 156). Marcella reports to her mother that Aldous “thinks us economically unsound, of course. … So we are” (M, 157). When affairs in Marcella’s own life make her neglect their enterprise, Mrs Jellison, the most bold of the village women, confronts her about the matter, and decides to sell her wares to one Jimmy Gedge instead; as the old woman explains, “Ee’s a cheatin, sweatin, greedy old skinflint is Jimmy Gedge; but when yer wants ‘im yer kin find ‘im” (M, 282). Mrs. Jellison, the novel suggests, may know something about economics that Marcella does not: the market demand of self-interested rational actors is more reliable than the demand of an altruistic heiress, external to the market and dependent on personal whim.

In the last of Marcella’s schemes to aid the poor, she develops the distinctly maternalist plan to open up the library on her estate to the tenants, planning to make of it a “village drawing room”; she will also restore cottages in the village and raise her laborers’ wages (M, 519). Once again, Marcella embodies an altruism that Aldous finds economically unsound: when he hears of the plan, we read, he “went through the objections that any economist would be sure to weigh against a proposal of the kind, as clearly as he could, and at some length—but without zest” (M, 524). Her project, we learn, requires her to sell railway shares in order to have ready money to spend on these improvements, and she acknowledges that her spending is a luxury: “I know there are not many people could do such a thing—other obligations would, must, come first” (M, 523). Marcella’s expensive altruistic projects are precisely the “irregular and individualistic experiments” that Ward defines as the corollary to collective strategies for social progress. Marcella uses her “free will” as an individual to spend private wealth gained via industrial capitalism. The novel points to both luxury consumption that is sensuously gratifying (sables and gold plate) and luxury consumption that is philanthropic (improvements to cottages, subsidization for Ruskinian straw-plaiting schemes). In both instances, private spending stands as a means of addressing social ills that is consistent with the liberal individualism central to mainstream political economy.

This individualist account of politically and socially engaged consumption opposes the collectivist account offered by Webb, and thus intervenes in the contemporary conversation about the role of the state in addressing social ills. Ward’s revision of Webb’s collectivist vision for political consumption in Marcella seems relevant partly because we know that the Ward consulted Webb as she wrote the novel, seeking accuracy in her representation of the “Venturist Society,” based on the Fabian Society.51 Marcella’s work as a rent-collector, moreover, notably [End Page 1230] parallels Webb’s own. When Ward was writing her novel in the early ’90s, consumption as a political practice had gained fresh attention in the book that Marshall told Webb not to write, The History of the Consumer Co-operative Movement in Great Britain (1891). The book, Webb’s first, was a notable success, going into three editions; it surveyed the consumer cooperative movement that had thrived intermittently in Britain since the late eighteenth century. Webb and the cooperative movement identify consumption as a site for political and social agency; Ward does too, but revises their collectivist vision, offering instead an individualist understanding of consumption as a site where the individual can exercise “free will” to do good, whether that good consists in providing wages and employment within a market or whether it consists in indulging in more capricious altruism.

Marcella’s socially and politically engaged spending of wealth takes more from Ruskin’s economic thought than from the collectivist thinking that shapes Webb’s consumer cooperative movement. Ruskin too understands consumption as a crucial site for ethical behaviour; like his “perfect economist,” Marcella is the “mistress of a house” who strives to decisions about spending money according to the needs of the community rather than “selfishly” spending only according to her own desires, and in this respect she evokes a Ruskinian ideal (CW, 16:20). Her straw-plaiting scheme recalls Ruskin’s work with the Guild of St George, and her feeling that the poor have so little because the rich have so much echoes Ruskin’s zero-sum economic logic, which, in a wildly rebellious stroke, rejects the concept of extrinsic, unstable “value in exchange.”52

If Marcella resembles the domestic, female “perfect economist” whom we encounter in Ruskin’s oppositional argument, Aldous—a reader of “recent numbers of various economic journals, English and foreign”—resembles an economist who might be a part of the emerging professionalized academic discipline in which Marshall figured so centrally (M, 89). Ward, however, offers a more sharply gendered vision of economic ethics than does Ruskin. Ruskin’s female “perfect economist” is a rhetorical device in an argument significantly concerned with the male’s obligation to feel and to act ethically in matters of economic production and consumption: his “mistress of a house” figures in a text that is also preoccupied with the moral responsibilities of the master. Although Aldous, as a master, has virtues consistent with a Ruskinian paternalistic morality, Marcella suggests that progress depends on the coexistence and cooperation of two distinct gendered types: more overtly than Ruskin’s, Ward’s master requires a mistress in order to [End Page 1231] act ethically in the realm of economics. This gendering involves a flattening on both sides: it removes expertise and the “drudgery” of sustained rational intellectual labor from the feminine repertoire, and it also denies the masculine realm of contemporary professionalized economics its actual interest in ethics and altruism.

As the novel draws to its close, Marcella thinks: “It was not the least probable that he and she, with their differing temperaments, would think alike in the future, any more than in the past. She would always be for experiments, for risks, which his critical temper, his larger brain, would of themselves be slow to enter upon. Yet she knew well enough that in her hands they would become bearable and even welcome to him” (M, 538).53 In Marcella, these gendered habits of mind complement each other: the female contributes speed and action in the form of a morally charged impulsiveness, while the male contributes a slow caution borne of intellectual girth.54 This is precisely the cooperative relationship between women and men that Ward describes in the “Appeal,” which declares: “The quickness to feel, the willingness to lay aside prudential considerations in a right cause, which are amongst the peculiar excellencies of women, are in their right place when they are used to influence the more highly trained and developed judgement of men.”55 (Marshall expresses similar ideas when he writes in an undated fragment: “women are quicker to perceive and more strengthful to feel than men; but … on average, they have less power of sustained concentration.”)56 With “his larger brain,” Aldous offers prudent slowness and the careful economist’s “trained and specialized knowledge”; with her impulsiveness and instinctive sensitivity to others’ pain, Marcella brings a readiness to act that is crucial in the context of transition, where pliancy and experimentation are the only ways forward.

Ward’s passing reference to Aldous’s brain evokes the Darwinian body of thought that understands women to be less intellectually capable than men.57 But Ward suggests that the incomprehensions of Marcella’s apparently smaller brain have distinct value. Just as Marcella’s impulsiveness makes a productive complement to Aldous’s caution, her ignorance is a fine partner for his knowledge. Aldous perceives this early in the novel when he writes to Hallin: “A large and passionate humanity plays about her. What she says often seems to me foolish—in the ear; but the inner sense, the heart of it, command me” (M, 91–92). When Marcella tells her mother that Aldous finds the straw-plaiting plan “economically unsound,” she adds: “All care for the human being under the present state of things is economically unsound … he likes it no more than I do” (M, 157). Aldous dislikes [End Page 1232] human suffering; but his knowledge and his analytical intelligence make him slow and cautious. He tells Marcella: “I am not sure … That is always my difficulty, you know” (M, 174). Marcella, in her passionate humanity and her foolishness, is unencumbered by the uncertainties that analysis and knowledge inevitably generate: she moves directly to experiment and action. Economic expertise belongs to the man; but to the woman belongs the “feeling,” the irrepressible urge to care immediately for people in need. Each of these assets is incomplete and ineffective on its own; married together, they can fruitfully work to solve the problem of poverty.

Marcella’s treatment of economic questions, then, is also ultimately a statement about marriage. Hallin is an economist who achieves within himself a union of the urge to care for humans with the possession of knowledge, but he is a character marked for death. The union of altruism and expertise that survives is a union of man and wife. The novel concludes with a marriage that conforms to Marshall’s Ruskinian vision of “contrast” and complementarity. Marcella’s humiliating realization of her own ignorance in Aldous’s library is resolved in the novel’s happy ending, but it is resolved largely because she grows out of a childish brashness into a mature awareness of her ignorances. The problem of her inadequate economic education is not solved by further study and learning; it is solved by her union with a larger brain. Her economic education completes itself only when she marries.

One of the first major contributions to economic theory by a woman within professionalized academe was Joan Robinson’s Economics of Imperfect Competition (1933). There is an oft-repeated story that Robinson encountered the elderly Mary Paley Marshall at a Cambridge garden party shortly after that book’s quite successful debut. Mary, the story goes, embraced Joan, “warmly congratulating her and saying, sternly, that when she saw Alfred (dead then for nine years), she would tell him that he was wrong to say that women could not do economic theory.”58 The circulation of this unverified story in work by historians of economic thought expresses a wish, one born of the knowledge that even if women could do economic theory, the twentieth century was one in which many of them did not, and in which economics would become “the most male of the social sciences.” Read with an eye to that future, Ward’s Marcella helps us to understand that for those who struggled to define the “perfect economist” as male, that struggle was largely a matter of securing the affections of the home and the safety of the empire. [End Page 1233]

Emily Coit
University of Bristol


I am grateful for the anonymous feedback that has helped me to improve this article. I would also like to thank Benjamin Kohlmann, who commented on a draft, and the attendees of the Director’s Seminar at the Institute of English Studies in London, which offered crucial support for this project in its early stages.

1. Mary Augusta Ward, “Preface,” The Case for the Factory Acts, ed. Beatrice Webb (London: Grant Richards, 1901), vii.

2. On Ward and “difference feminism,” see Beth Sutton-Ramspeck, Raising the Dust: the literary housekeeping of Mary Ward, Sarah Grand, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Athens: Ohio Univ. Press, 2004) and “Shot Out of the Canon: Mary Ward and the Claims of Conflicting Feminisms,” in Victorian Women Writers and the Woman Question, ed. Nicola Diane Thompson (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999); Julia Bush, “‘Special strengths for their own special duties’: Women, Higher Education and Gender Conservatism in Late Victorian Britain,” History of Education 34 (2005): 387–405 and Women Against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007); and Maroula Joannou, “Mary Augusta Ward (Mrs Humphry) and the Opposition to Women’s Suffrage,” Women’s History Review 14 (2005): 561–80. These studies build upon the earlier discussion of “liberal” and “domestic” feminisms in Barbara Caine’s Victorian Feminists (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992), and also on the foundational work on anti-suffragism by Brian Harrison in Separate Spheres: The Opposition to Women’s Suffrage in Britain (London: Croom Helm, 1978). For more on feminisms and anti-feminisms, see Valerie Sanders, Eve’s Renegades: Victorian Anti-Feminist Women Novelists (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996); Lucy Delap, “Feminist and Anti-Feminist Encounters in Edwardian Britain,” Historical Research 78 (2005): 377–99; Valerie Sanders and Anne Heilmann, “The rebel, the lady and the ‘anti’: Femininity, anti-feminism, and the Victorian woman writer,” Women’s Studies International Forum 29 (2006): 289–300; Valerie Sanders and Lucy Delap, ed., Victorian and Edwardian Anti-Feminism (London: Routledge, 2010).

3. See Sutton-Ramspeck, “Shot Out of the Canon,” 211–15; Joannou, 569–76; and Judith Wilt, Behind Her Times: Transition in the Novels of Mary Arnold Ward (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005), 148–181.

4. Ward, Delia Blanchflower (New York: Hearst’s International, 1914), 152, 262; see also 243, 321, 323.

5. Ward, Delia, 339. See Rita McWilliams Tullberg, “Alfred Marshall’s Attitude Toward The Economics of Industry,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 14 (1992): 257–70.

6. Michèle A. Pujol, Feminism and Anti-feminism in Early Economic Thought (Aldershot: Elgar, 1998), 2. See also Marianne A. Ferber and Julie Nelson, ed., Feminist Economics Today: Beyond Economic Man (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2003), 1–7; Robert W. Dimand, “The Neglect of Women’s Contributions to Economics,” in Women of Value: Feminist Essays on the History of Women in Economics, ed. Mary Ann Dimand, Robert W. Dimand, and Evelyn L. Forget (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1995), 1–24; and Peter D. Groenewegen, “Women in Political Economy and Women as Political Economists in Victorian England,” in Feminism and Political Economy in Victorian England, ed. Groenewegen (Aldershot: Elgar, 1994), 1–24. “Feminist economics” seeks to account for and address the dearth of women in the field, but is often more concerned with the neglect of women and women’s labor as objects of study. [End Page 1234]

7. See Sarah Stage, “Home Economics, What’s in a Name?,” in Rethinking Home Economics: Women and the History of a Profession, ed. Stage and Virginia Bramble Vincenti (Cornell Univ. Press, 1997), 5–11.

8. Barbara Caine, “Feminism and Political Economy in Victorian England—or John Stuart Mill, Henry Fawcett and Henry Sidgewick Ponder the ‘Woman Question,’” in Feminism and Political Economy in Victorian England, ed. Groenewegen (Aldershot: Elgar, 1994), 37.

9. John Ruskin, Collected Works, 39 vol., ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (London: George Allen, 1903–1912), 17:19. All references to this text are hereafter cited parenthetically by page number and abbreviated CW. On Ruskin, Xenophon’s Oeconomicus, and “economics” as household or estate management see Willie Henderson, John Ruskin’s Political Economy (London: Routledge, 2000), 67–68.

10. Groenewegen, “Women in Political Economy,” 4. Groenewegen writes in the mid-1990s; for more recent data on women’s contributions to economic research, see Vincent Larivière and others, “Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science,” Nature 504 (2013): 211–13. The authors note that research in economics remains “male-dominated” (212).

11. H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli (London: Penguin Books, 2005), 167. Wells’s novel notably satirizes the Webbs.

12. Wilt, 16, 92.

13. Peter Collister reads Marcella alongside Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, arguing that Gwendolyn Harleth may be a more relevant model than Dorothea Brooke. See “Portraits of Audacious Youth,” English Studies 64 (1983): 269–317.

14. George Eliot, Middlemarch (New York: Penguin, 2003), 805, 18, 17.

15. John Sutherland, Mrs. Humphry Ward: Eminent Victorian, Pre-Eminent Edwardian (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991), 198.

16. Along with Bush and Joannou, Sutton-Ramspeck urges us not to import anachronistic categories and assumptions in considering Ward’s views, noting that “too often… feminist criticism listens only to those suppressed voices from the past that speak a feminist language most like our own” (“Shot Out of the Canon,” 218).

17. Bush, “Special strengths,” 395–96.

18. Louise Creighton, The Art of Living (London, Longmans 1909), 113; quoted in Bush, “Special strengths,” 398.

19. Ward, A Writer’s Recollections, 2 vol. (New York: Harper, 1918), 1:203–4. All references to this text are hereafter cited parenthetically by volume number and page number and abbreviated WR.

20. Sutherland, 199.

21. Ward, “An Appeal Against Female Suffrage,” The Nineteenth Century 25 (1889): 781, 783.

22. Ward, “The Women’s Anti-Suffrage Movement,” The Nineteenth Century 64 (August 1908): 348. See also her “Why I Do Not Believe in Woman Suffrage,” Ladies’ Home Journal 25 (November 1908): 15, 72.

23. See Sutton-Ramspeck and Meller, introduction to Marcella, 12; Sutherland, 17, 21, 142.

24. Ward, Marcella, ed. Beth Sutton-Ramspeck and Nicole B. Meller (Orchard Park, NY: Broadview, 2002), 89. All references to this text are hereafter cited parenthetically by page number and abbreviated M. [End Page 1235]

25. See Seth Koven, “How the Victorians Read Sesame and Lilies,” in John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, ed. Deborah Epstein Nord (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2002), 165–204.

26. Sutherland, 73, 29.

27. Ward, “The Women’s Anti-Suffrage Movement,” 348.

28. Ward, “Why I Do Not Believe in Woman Suffrage,” 15.

29. Ward, “The Women’s Anti-Suffrage Movement,” 349.

30. Bush, “Special strengths,” 404. See also Bush, Edwardian Ladies and Imperial Power (Leicester: Leicester Univ. Press, 2000), 172–85; Sally Ledger, “The New Woman and the Crisis of Victorianism,” in Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle, ed. Ledger and Scott McCracken (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995), 30–35; and Angelique Richardson, Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century: Rational Reproduction and the New Woman (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2003).

31. Groenewegen, “Alfred Marshall—Women and Economic Development: Labour, Family and Race,” in Feminism and Political Economy in Victorian England, ed. Groenewegen (Aldershot: Elgar, 1994), 102.

32. See Rita McWilliams Tullberg, Women at Cambridge, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998), 72–89; Elizabeth Seymour Eschbach, The Higher Education of Women in England and America: 1865–1920, (New York: Garland, 1993), 129; and Tullberg, “Mary Paley Marshall, 1850–1944,” in Women of Value : Feminist Essays on the History of Women in Economics, ed. Mary Ann Dimand, Robert W. Dimand, Evelyn L. Forget (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1995): 150–193. One student wrote of Mary Paley Marshall, “She is Princess Ida”; J. M. Keynes reported that at the Marshall’s Cambridge home, “Mary never discoursed on an economic topic with a visitor, or even took part in the everlasting economic talks. … For the serious discussion she would leave the dining-room to the men or the visitor would go upstairs to the study, and the most ignorant Miss could not have pretended less than she to academic attainment” (McWilliams Tullberg, “Mary Paley Marshall,” 161, 176).

33. Keynes, “Alfred Marshall, 1842–1924,” The Economic Journal 34 (1924): 363. See also Groenewegen, Alfred Marshall: A Soaring Eagle (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1995), 516–26.

34. David Reisman, Alfred Marshall’s Mission (London: Macmillan, 1990), 47.

35. Alfred Toynbee gave lectures on political economy to women at Oxford, participating in Ward’s early efforts for female education there; see Janet Howarth, “‘In Oxford but… not of Oxford’: The Women’s Colleges,” in The History of the University of Oxford, Vol. 7: Nineteenth-Century Oxford, Part 2, ed. M. G. Brock and M. C. Curthoys (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000). Groenewegen notes that Jowett invited the Marshalls to meet the Wards in 1885. See Groenewegen, Alfred Marshall: A Soaring Eagle, 690.

36. Tullberg, “Marshall’s ‘Tendency to Socialism,’” History of Political Economy 7 (1975): 106–7.

37. See Beatrice Potter Webb, My Apprenticeship (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1979), 350–55, 368–74.

38. Webb, 350–51.

39. Webb, 351.

40. Webb, 352.

41. Webb, 353–54. Webb explains her opposition to suffrage at the time: “[A]t the root of my anti-feminism lay the fact that I had never myself suffered the disabilities assumed to arise from my sex” (355).

42. Having expressed some support for cooperatives, Marshall would subsequently decide that “competition with all its imperfections remained the best foundation for [End Page 1236] effectively organizing economic society” (Groenewegen, Alfred Marshall: A Soaring Eagle, 457).

43. Webb, 373.

44. Ward, “The Women’s Anti-Suffrage Movement,” 351.

45. This passage notably recalls Dorothea’s similarly emotional response to the poverty she sees in her own village. See Eliot, Middlemarch, 389.

46. See Benjamin Kohlmann, “‘The End of Laissez-Faire’: Literature, Economics, and the Idea of the Welfare State,” forthcoming in Oxford 21st-Century Approaches to Literature, 1880–1920, ed. Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn, and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press); and Groenewegen, “Marshall on Welfare Economics and the Welfare State,” in No Wealth But Life (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010), 25–41. Lauren M. E. Goodlad helpfully complicates the binary between collectivism and individualism in this debate, noting that the Idealist philosophy of the COS and the materialist philosophy of the Fabian society both participate in the beginnings of academic sociology in Britain, and that both involve “implicitly paternalistic thinking” and “[mandate] collective and professionalized responses of some kind” (Victorian Literature and the Victorian State: Character and Governance in a Liberal Society [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2003], 195).

47. Sutton-Ramspeck and Meller, introduction to Marcella, 20. For more on Ward’s views on individualism and collectivism, especially in the context of her work with settlement houses, see Koven, “Borderlands: Women, Voluntary Action, and Child Welfare in Britain, 1840–1914,” in Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States, ed. Koven and Sonya Michel (New York: Routledge, 1993), 109–16 and Jane Lewis, Women and Social Action in Victorian and Edwardian England, (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1991), 209–22.

48. Keynes, 319.

49. Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics (New York: Macmillan, 1890), vi.

50. The novel also expresses a stewardship argument for luxury consumption, a stance that might be summarized “have your cake and let them eat it too.” Aldous states it most explicitly: “There must be a transition time, and clearly till the State is ready to take over the historical houses and their contents, the present nominal owners of them are bound, if they can, to take care of them. Otherwise the State will be some day defrauded” (M, 136). Sutherland attributes “Marcella’s extraordinary theorem that the estates of the English aristocracy are property held in trust for the ultimate use of the People” to Ward’s own feelings of guilt at being a landowner (142).

51. See Sutton-Ramspeck and Meller, introduction to Marcella, 19.

52. For more on Ruskin’s economics, see Willie Henderson, John Ruskin’s Political Economy (London: Routledge, 2000); James Clark Sherburne, John Ruskin, or the Ambiguities of Abundance: A Study in Social and Economic Criticism (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1972); and David Craig, John Ruskin and the Ethics of Consumption (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 2006).

53. Sutton-Ramspeck reads this passage as part of her argument that Marcella “ends in a happy, but precarious, balance between liberal feminist self-development and social feminist devotion to duty” (“Shot Out of the Canon,” 207). But this problematically understands female education and self-development to be the exclusive province of liberal feminism, when in fact, as Bush has shown, some of the strongest advocates of female education and self-development were social feminists.

54. Ward and Marshall’s accounts of the slow and thorough male mind and the quick and mobile female mind are in keeping with standard understandings of her time. [End Page 1237] See Joan Burstyn, Victorian Education and the Ideal of Womanhood (London: Croom Helm, 1980), 70–83. Rob Boddice, however, identifies models in which the active male surpasses the static female. See “The Manly Mind? Revisiting the Victorian ‘Sex in Brain’ Debate,” Gender & History 23 (2011): 321–40.

55. Ward, “An Appeal Against Female Suffrage,” 783.

56. Quoted in Groenewegen, “Alfred Marshall—Women and Economic Development,” 96.

57. On craniometry and understandings of female intelligence, see Burstyn, Victorian Education, 75–79 and Boddice, “The Manly Mind.” Boddice notes that “the long-running debate about the education of women … was firmly embedded within Darwinistic and anthropological scientific rhetoric” (321) and that “those who wished to limit the educational opportunities of women made full use of the anthropological data on relative brain weights” (326).

58. G. C. Harcourt and Prue Kerr, Joan Robinson (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 20. See also G. C. Harcourt, The Social Science Imperialists (1982; New York: Routledge, 2003), 349 and Groenewegen, “Alfred Marshall,” 96; and Marjorie Shepherd Turner, Joan Robinson and the Americans (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1989), 12–13. [End Page 1238]

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