Scottish Women's Writing in the Long Nineteenth Century

Juliet Shields, Scottish Women's Writing in the Long Nineteenth Century: the Romance of Everyday Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Walter Scott’s tales of chivalry and adventure inaugurated a masculinized Scottish romance tradition that celebrated a sublime and heroic version of Scotland.  Nineteenth-century Scotswomen who aspired to authorship could not escape Scott’s influence, but neither could they adopt or imitate his masculine mode of fiction wholesale.  Together their novels form an overlooked counter-tradition of unromantic or even anti-romantic representations of Scotland which challenges the claim that Scotland lacked any equivalent to the English realist novel. In turning from the past to the present and from the sublimity of Scott’s Highland landscapes to farmhouses, factories, and suburban villas, Scottish women writers brought romance to everyday life, illuminating the magnificence of the mundane. Drawing on the evangelical discourses emerging from the splintering of the Presbyterian Church in 1843, they represented fiction as a form of spiritual comfort, an antidote to the dreary monotony and petty frustrations of daily existence.  This book recovers the women writers who have been rendered invisible by the masculinist bent of Scottish literary history and explores their contributions to the periodical press, the New Woman novel, the late nineteenth-century romance revival, and the emergence of Scottish literary modernism.

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