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Fashioning female authorship in the early nineteenth century: a study of the Epistolary Friendship and Tractarian Fiction of two women from the Hampshire Gentry, 1827-1842

Fashioning female authorship in the early nineteenth century: a study of the Epistolary Friendship and Tractarian Fiction of two women from the Hampshire Gentry, 1827-1842
Fashioning female authorship in the early nineteenth century: a study of the Epistolary Friendship and Tractarian Fiction of two women from the Hampshire Gentry, 1827-1842
To date no major research has been undertaken on the correspondence of Anne Sturges Bourne and Marianne Dyson (1822-1871) located in the Hampshire Record Office. This valuable collection of letters not only offers a wealth of information about the letter-writing practices of women from the landed gentry, it also provides the opportunity to examine the letter as a cultural and historical artefact. By using Marilyn Friedman’s theories on women’s friendships and relational autonomy, this thesis has been able to combine the methodology required for studying letters as a genre with the concept of the letter as a purveyor of social and cultural experiences. This has resulted in an interdisciplinary study which has analysed the important role that letter writing played in the development of Anne and Marianne’s friendship, while, at the same time, demonstrating their intellectual engagement with the prevalent literary, religious, and philosophical discourses of the day.

As a process which encouraged reflection, letter writing enabled these two women to develop a gendered subjectivity and to achieve degrees of personal autonomy in a social context. I argue that the supportive nature of their epistolary friendship empowered them to embrace life as single women and to pursue their shared ideals for the future, which, for them, meant a life spent in service to the Church and educating the poor. It also provided them with a route into authorship through their collaborative literary endeavours in support of the Anglo-Catholic doctrine of the Oxford Movement, or Tractarianism as it was later called.

In the 1850s and 60s Anne and Marianne used the collaborative model of authorship they had developed for writing and publishing their own juvenile tales to support the novel writing of the major Victorian novelist, Charlotte Mary Yonge. While Yonge’s habit of discussing her novels with friends and family is known from Christabel Coleridge’s biography (1903), the empirical evidence found in the Sturges Bourne/Dyson correspondence provides a more nuanced account of the way in which literary collaboration could function. It also corroborates recent scholarly claims that female collaborative authorship was more commonplace in the nineteenth century than has hitherto been recognised. More significantly, the stories written by Anne, and Marianne in particular, were recognised in contemporary Tractarian circles as important contributions to the establishment of Anglo-Catholic doctrine for future generations. This marks Anne Sturges Bourne and Marianne Dyson out as part of a forgotten generation of women writers who paved the way, not only for Yonge, but for other known women writers of Tractarian fiction in the second half of the nineteenth century, such as Elizabeth Missing Sewell and Felicia Skene.
University of Southampton
Carter, Janet Davidson
31d55cfc-c77e-4ae2-ada7-f97892af4723
Carter, Janet Davidson
31d55cfc-c77e-4ae2-ada7-f97892af4723
Hammond, Elizabeth
36bc55ac-8543-411f-ba89-668e19905e35
Bygrave, Stephen
c0c3f93a-dab5-4674-aa79-072f4dc11233

Carter, Janet Davidson (2017) Fashioning female authorship in the early nineteenth century: a study of the Epistolary Friendship and Tractarian Fiction of two women from the Hampshire Gentry, 1827-1842. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 343pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

To date no major research has been undertaken on the correspondence of Anne Sturges Bourne and Marianne Dyson (1822-1871) located in the Hampshire Record Office. This valuable collection of letters not only offers a wealth of information about the letter-writing practices of women from the landed gentry, it also provides the opportunity to examine the letter as a cultural and historical artefact. By using Marilyn Friedman’s theories on women’s friendships and relational autonomy, this thesis has been able to combine the methodology required for studying letters as a genre with the concept of the letter as a purveyor of social and cultural experiences. This has resulted in an interdisciplinary study which has analysed the important role that letter writing played in the development of Anne and Marianne’s friendship, while, at the same time, demonstrating their intellectual engagement with the prevalent literary, religious, and philosophical discourses of the day.

As a process which encouraged reflection, letter writing enabled these two women to develop a gendered subjectivity and to achieve degrees of personal autonomy in a social context. I argue that the supportive nature of their epistolary friendship empowered them to embrace life as single women and to pursue their shared ideals for the future, which, for them, meant a life spent in service to the Church and educating the poor. It also provided them with a route into authorship through their collaborative literary endeavours in support of the Anglo-Catholic doctrine of the Oxford Movement, or Tractarianism as it was later called.

In the 1850s and 60s Anne and Marianne used the collaborative model of authorship they had developed for writing and publishing their own juvenile tales to support the novel writing of the major Victorian novelist, Charlotte Mary Yonge. While Yonge’s habit of discussing her novels with friends and family is known from Christabel Coleridge’s biography (1903), the empirical evidence found in the Sturges Bourne/Dyson correspondence provides a more nuanced account of the way in which literary collaboration could function. It also corroborates recent scholarly claims that female collaborative authorship was more commonplace in the nineteenth century than has hitherto been recognised. More significantly, the stories written by Anne, and Marianne in particular, were recognised in contemporary Tractarian circles as important contributions to the establishment of Anglo-Catholic doctrine for future generations. This marks Anne Sturges Bourne and Marianne Dyson out as part of a forgotten generation of women writers who paved the way, not only for Yonge, but for other known women writers of Tractarian fiction in the second half of the nineteenth century, such as Elizabeth Missing Sewell and Felicia Skene.

Text
Fashioning Female Authorship in the Early Nineteenth Century: A Study of the Epistolary Friendship and Tractarian Fiction of Two Women from the Hampshire Gentry, 1827–1842 - Version of Record
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Published date: March 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 413954
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/413954
PURE UUID: 4391618e-676f-4066-ad58-5c9370b76a7e

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Date deposited: 11 Sep 2017 16:31
Last modified: 30 Jan 2020 05:07

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: Elizabeth Hammond
Thesis advisor: Stephen Bygrave

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