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Christina Liddell, the Forgotten Fraser Tytler Sister: Censorship and Suppression in Mary Watts’s Life Writing

Rose, Lucy Ella (2018) Christina Liddell, the Forgotten Fraser Tytler Sister: Censorship and Suppression in Mary Watts’s Life Writing 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 27. pp. 1-23.

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Novelist, short story writer and poet Christina Liddell (née Fraser Tytler) (1848-1927) is one of the many neglected non-canonical women writers of the nineteenth century. Despite her fame during her day and her familial and professional connections to Victorian celebrities, including Julia Margaret Cameron, she is now relatively unknown and no study of her currently exists. She is herself a silence in the archive. It was Christina who introduced her artistic younger sister Mary to ‘England’s Michelangelo’ George Frederic Watts, facilitating and remaining at the heart of one of Victorian Britain’s most famous conjugal creative partnerships. Indeed, George called for Christina on his deathbed, and she is now buried beside the couple. This article explores their unconventional triangular relationship and analyses evidence of their eroticised interfamilial creative partnership, which reconfigured hegemonic family structures and represented a progressive if not radical approach to gender and marital politics. Through a reading of Mary’s private diaries alongside her published biography or quasi-hagiography of her husband, this article investigates censorship, suppression and silence in the form of textual subtexts, ambiguous intimacy, dying words and hallucinations, secret parentage, missing diary pages and posthumous interventions. It addresses omissions in auto/biography and in the archive, bringing previously unseen material to light and illuminating institutional silence. Combining literary, art historical and theoretical perspectives, it analyses neglected diaries, auto/biography and letters alongside poetry, paintings and photographs in order to offer insight into the untold complexities of Victorian familial relationships and sexualities. This article uses Victorian women’s life writing to explore the complex interconnections of married couples, adult sisters and sibling-in-laws, offering a broader understanding of filial bonds, conjugal arrangements and eroticised relationships in the long nineteenth century.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
Rose, Lucy
Date : 7 December 2018
DOI : 10.16995/ntn.810
Copyright Disclaimer : © the author 2019. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creativee Commons Attribution 4.0 licence (unless stated otherwise) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, snd reproduction, in any medium, provided the work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).
Uncontrolled Keywords : Diary; Biography; Mary Watts; Christina Liddell; Fraser Tytler; George Frederic Watts; Sisters; Marriage; Family; Censorship; Suppression; Silence; Archive; Creative partnership
Related URLs :
Additional Information : Special issue: ‘Silence in the Archives’
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 22 Dec 2017 09:02
Last Modified : 20 Mar 2019 15:07

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