Melodrama and Tory socialism
in Margaret Harkness
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Margaret Harkness’s serial story ‘Connie’ appeared in the socialist Labour Elector in 1893–94, but was left unfinished when the periodical folded, reaching no conclusion to the cross-class romance between actress Connie and her lover, the son of a rural landowner. This chapter explores how Harkness uses melodrama in the serial to create a specific form of socialism: one based on the Tory narratives of duty, guidance, and a harmonious relationship across social classes. By focusing on Harkness’s use of the dual lenses of melodrama and Tory socialism, this chapter demonstrates the ways that Harkness uses the former to elucidate working-class women’s precarious social position under capitalism, and the latter to indicate possibilities for the amelioration of this compromised position.

Margaret Harkness

Writing social engagement 1880–1921


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