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Odd women?Spinsters, lesbians and widows in British women's fiction, 1850s–1930s$
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Emma Liggins

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087561

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087561.001.0001

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Bachelor girls, mistresses and the New Woman heroine

Bachelor girls, mistresses and the New Woman heroine

(p.77) Chapter 2 Bachelor girls, mistresses and the New Woman heroine
Odd women?

Emma Liggins

Manchester University Press

Myths of the spinster as asexual, barren and dowdy are challenged in the second chapter, by an exploration of the figure of the New Woman or bachelor girl, and the alternative glamorous identity of the mistress. Women's autobiographies locate the single woman within the dangerous excesses of Bohemianism. The enabling singleness of the professionalised New Woman in novels by Netta Syrett and Ella Hepworth Dixon is explored in relation to her occupation of her spinster flat, in which her modernity is guaranteed by her celibacy. This is considered in relation to the enviability of the spinster's occupation of public space in New Woman and suffragette autobiography by Cecily Hamilton, Violet Hunt and Evelyn Sharp.

Keywords:   New Woman, Mistress, Suffragette, Celibacy, Modernity, Bohemianism

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