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Irish Women'S Writing, 1878-1922Advancing the Cause of Liberty$
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Anna Pilz and Whitney Standlee

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719097584

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719097584.001.0001

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‘Breaking away’: Beatrice Grimshaw and the commercial woman writer

‘Breaking away’: Beatrice Grimshaw and the commercial woman writer

(p.82) 5 ‘Breaking away’: Beatrice Grimshaw and the commercial woman writer
Irish Women'S Writing, 1878-1922

Jane Mahony

Eve Patten

Manchester University Press

This chapter surveys Grimshaw’s writing from its Ulster origins and considers her as one of several independent women writers in the period who successfully adapted an instinctive feminism to the increasing conservatism of an international publishing marketplace in the 1890s. It focuses on one of Grimshaw’s novels, the romantic literary thriller Broken Away (1897), set in Portadown, Dublin, Wicklow and London, as a portrait of the fin-de-siècle commercial Irish author. The chapter considers the novel’s commentary on the pressurised concept of the ‘New Woman’ in the light of the changing editorial priorities of Grimshaw’s first publisher John Lane/The Bodley Head, as the company attempted to distance itself from the decadence of Wilde and Beardsley on one hand, and the feminist excesses of George Egerton on the other. It compares this initial foray with a later publishing encounter, this time with the recently-formed Mills and Boon, who produced Grimshaw’s 1911 adventure story When the Red Gods Call, the tale of an Irishman’s fortunes in New Guinea. In this case, Grimshaw’s astute response to the tastes of an expanding popular readership can be seen to have dovetailed with the marketing and distribution skills of her new publishers, paving the way to her status as a bestselling author.

Keywords:   Beatrice Grimshaw, Travel writing, Publishing industry, Female autonomy, Commercialism

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