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Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image

Rose, Lucy Ella (2017) Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474421454

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‘The hope of the future lies greatly in the fact that woman is now beginning to take her place’, wrote Mary Watts in her diary (1893: 4 April). A year later, feminist writer Sarah Grand coined the term ‘New Woman’ and wrote, ‘women generally are becoming conscious that some great change is taking place in their position’ (Grand 1894: 707). An increasing preoccupation with woman’s place – and specifically, the evolving role and shifting socio-political position of women – is perceptible in much art and literature of the later nineteenth century, the period that engendered active feminism in the form of the women’s suffrage movement. Woman’s place was a primary focus of Victorian-Edwardian feminist discourse, and remains central to present-day feminism. This book shows how neglected nineteenth-century women writers and artists transgressed traditional female spheres and restrictive feminine norms in their professional creative practices and unconventional creative partnerships with men, and how their literary and visual texts can be read as sites of struggle against – rather than submission to – patriarchy. These marginalised Victorian women, traditionally defined as subordinate gender ‘others’ in relation to their famous husbands, can be seen as ‘significant others’ who were not passive and peripheral but rather active and influential in their creative partnerships as well as in contemporary debates, through which they achieved and promoted greater personal and political empowerment and freedom. This is the first book dedicated to examining the marital relationships of Mary and George Watts and Evelyn and William De Morgan as creative partnerships. The study demonstrates how they worked, individually and together, to support greater gender equality and female liberation in the nineteenth century. The author traces their relationship to early and more recent feminism, reclaiming them as influential early feminists and reading their works from twentieth-century theoretical perspectives. By focusing on neglected female figures in creative partnerships, the book challenges longstanding perceptions of them as the subordinate wives of famous Victorian artists and of their marriages as representatives of the traditional gender binary. This is also the first academic critical study of Mary Watts’s recently published diaries, Evelyn De Morgan’s unpublished writings and other previously unexplored archival material by the Wattses and the De Morgans.

Item Type: Book
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of English and Languages
Authors :
Rose, Lucy
Date : 31 December 2017
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2017 Edinburgh University Press
Uncontrolled Keywords : Gender politics; Art history; Feminism; Mary Watts; Evelyn De Morgan; Partnership
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 27 Jun 2017 11:02
Last Modified : 17 Aug 2017 09:50

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