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The mid-Victorian professional woman of letters: Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury and the economics of the publishing and literary marketplace, 1840-1880

Dunn, Zoë Louise (2003) The mid-Victorian professional woman of letters: Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury and the economics of the publishing and literary marketplace, 1840-1880. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86282) (KAR id:86282)


This thesis addresses the nature of female professionalism within the literary and publishing marketplace of mid-Victorian Britain, by examining Geraldine Jewsbury's career (1812-1880) as a publisher's reader, reviewer and circulating library novelist. I address the economics of women's writing, from detailed examination of Jewsbury's earnings (in comparison to Braddon, Oliphant and Craik) to discussion about the prejudice of women's literary professionalism. Written from a cultural-historical perspective, this thesis assesses Jewsbury's representations of. religious scepticism, love, passion, women's vocation, education and industrial reform. Examining not only her fiction, but also Jewsbury's numerous reader's reports, critical reviews and letters, I create a composite picture of the professional Mid-Victorian woman writer. This thesis draws on a wide array of archival material, (British Library Bentley Manuscripts, Mantell Papers, Dolaucothi Collection, Bentley Manuscripts from California and Illinois Universities), a good number of which have previously remained outside Jewsbury scholarship. It examines Jewsbury's unique role as publisher's reader, and relates this to patterns of female literary professionalism. Jewsbury's first three novels, Zoe (1845), The Haýf Sisters (1848) and Marian Withers (185 1), initiate a discussion within mid-Victorian fiction about the question of religious scepticism, women's vocation and the need for associative principles within industrial relations. I consider Jewsbury's contribution to literary criticism as an anonymous female in an established male field (as Athenaeum fiction reviewer) and explore her paradoxical ideology about the women reader and writer. This is mainly addressed through her contradictory conservative morality and appreciation of the popularity and commercial success of sensationalism in the 1860s. The theoretical assumption behind this thesis is that an historical approach, backed up by archival research, will take us as long way to understanding Jewsbury's literary professionalism. As such, this thesis contributes to recent feminist criticism which recognises the need to relate women writers to the marketplace, perceiving their writing as containing divergent ideologies of the representations of female professionalism. Therefore the significance of Jewsbury's work and career is seen through its relevance to wider contemporary debates and its importance to furthering an understanding of Victorian literature, society and feminist criticism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86282
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:47 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 16:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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