The legacy of Lucy Snowe
Reconfiguring spinsterhood and the Victorian family in inter- war women’s writing
in Charlotte Brontë
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This chapter traces women writers' reinterpretations and reworkings of Charlotte Bronte's 'feminist voice' between 1910 and 1940. Margaret Oliphant identified the surplus woman debates as key to interpreting Bronte's depictions of 'that solitude and longing of women', explicitly linking heroines such as Lucy Snowe to 'the extra halfmillion of women' in Victorian society. In their critiques of the Victorian family, inter-war feminist writers often took their cue from the progressive views on the freedoms of female singleness expressed in Bronte's letters, while questioning Elizabeth Gaskell's apparent endorsement of a daughter's duty. The chapter considers political and auto/biographical writing by Virginia Woolf, May Sinclair and Vera Brittain, before focusing on the new spinster heroines of modernist novels such as Sinclair's The Three Sisters and Winifred Holtby's The Crowded Street.

Charlotte Brontë

Legacies and afterlives

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