By M. O'Cinneide
Aristocratic girls flourished within the Victorian literary international, their mixture of sophistication privilege and gendered exclusion producing distinctively socialized modes of participation in cultural and political task. Their writing bargains an important trope wherein to contemplate the character of political, inner most and public spheres. This publication is an exam of the literary, social, and political value of the lives and writings of aristocratic girls within the mid-Victorian interval.
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Additional info for Aristocratic Women and the Literary Nation, 1832-1867 (Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture)
Of the three aristocrats, Georgiana Fullerton is the only one who puts her name on her book. She can do this not in spite of, but because of the moral values of the narrative, which transform self-exposure into a spiritual action. Ironically, though, she can also claim authorship openly because of the absence of ‘direct’ autobiographical elements, and thus utilise the appeal of upper-class status without its potentially damaging scandalous associations. Mandler’s comment that of the three novels, Ellen Middleton had the widest readership and the most influence, suggests that by the 1840s, fiction rather than autobiography was the route to societal influence, and the further from direct autobiographical Aristocratic Lives 45 experience the better.
Yet this narrative voice is the one summarising and contextualising events and documents, while in the selection of this material the author/editor can control what aspects of their patriarchal inheritance come into the public realm. It was only in the nineteenth century that the domestic memoir really attained recognition as an autobiographical form. 33 The domestic memoir’s upper-class origins in early models such as Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson ... To which is prefixed the life of Mrs Hutchinson, written by herself (written between around 1664 and 1670) gave precedents for combining the celebratory account of a male relative’s life with a woman’s own personal experiences.
29 High rank did not necessarily make an upper-class woman less vulnerable in marriage than her middleclass counterparts, as the case study of Rosina Bulwer Lytton and Caroline Norton in Chapter 4 demonstrates further: Herbert’s possible conversion brought upon her the threat of losing custody of her children. ) The spiritual autobiography offered upper-class women a model to transform personal religious experiences into texts that could claim the authority of testimonies to a divine goal – for both Protestant Evangelicalism and Catholicism.