Emma Liggins
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Spinster heroines, aunts and widowed mothers, 1910–39
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The third chapter re-examines the spinster heroine of modernist fiction, focussing particularly on the widowed mother/repressed daughter and aunt/niece paradigms as examples of same-sex alliance and rivalry. Showing the influence of psychoanalytical models of the family, the widowed mother in novels by May Sinclair, F.M. Mayor and Lettice Cooper is a monstrous presence from whom the daughter must separate, in order to make the transition from an out-dated Victorianism to an uncertain modernity. Aunt figures are haunting presences in the modernist text. In the work of lesser-known middlebrow novelist E.H. Young, the challenge to heterosexuality posed by the tantular, and the uses of fantasy, offer playful alternatives to spinster narratives structured around repression.

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Odd women?

Spinsters, lesbians and widows in British women’s fiction, 1850s–1930s


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