British Women Writers and the Short Story, 1850–1930: by K. Krueger

By K. Krueger

This e-book addresses a severely overlooked style utilized by girls writers from Gaskell to Woolf to complicate Victorian and modernist notions of gender and social house. Their leading edge brief tales ask Britons to think again the place girls may well reside, how they can be pointed out, and whether or not they can be contained.

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Additional info for British Women Writers and the Short Story, 1850–1930: Reclaiming Social Space

Sample text

And yet, Mary begins to see otherwise overlooked aspects of the Amazons’ everyday lives. 35 Rather than simply documenting what she sees, like an urban investigator or Mitford’s idyllic ‘natural’ observer, Gaskell creates a narrator who tempers her initial anthropological stance with gradually heightened respect which grows from her quiet attention to often-overlooked acts: ‘I had often occasion to notice the use that was made of fragments and small opportunities in Cranford. . ’36 Mary takes these incidental fragments and small opportunities and turns them into narrative through her own attentiveness.

Popular rhetoric regarding women’s roles in family life elevated 40 British Women Writers and the Short Story, 1850–1930 marriage as the only suitable avenue for women. In fact, writers of the 1840s like Sarah Stickney Ellis created successful careers from their production of etiquette manuals that offered instructions regarding both domestic chores and the performance of maternal femininity in such aptly titled works as The Mothers of England (1843), The Daughters of England (1845), and The Wives of England (1846), which explicitly linked national pride to a woman’s nuclear familial relations.

In this quintessential setting, Matty reveals her painful past to Mary, who then through her role as narrator extends the honor of that privilege and inclusiveness to us, the readers, the final repository of Matty’s memories. Mary continues to include a figurative public by recreating this moment of transmission in her own story. Even though Mary has never met Matty’s family, she participates in reading the messages aloud, watches them set alight, and comments upon their contents. The act of retelling keeps memories alive and also allows them to be reborn as a shared experience between Matty, Mary, and, implicitly, the readers.

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