A Wider Range: Travel Writing by Women in Victorian England

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9780838635445: A Wider Range: Travel Writing by Women in Victorian England
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A Wider Range makes an exciting new addition to Victorian cultural studies by examining the multifarious forms of writing that emerged out of Victorian women's travels throughout the wider world. Looking closely at representative examples of Victorian women's published accounts of their travels, Frawley argues that many of these women conceived of foreign lands as sites in which to situate their bid for public authority and cultural credibility. While this travel writing reveals the imaginative investments that Victorians made in the wider world, it also exposes the extent to which women used these imaginative investments to professional advantage, finding in different places opportunities for personal and professional self-fashioning.
After an introduction that surveys the field of women's travel writing and places it within current thinking about Victorian configurations of gender and genre, Maria H. Frawley studies the kinds of professional identities cultivated in this literature. Two chapters focus on the major bodies of women's travel writing, those written by tourist women and those written by women who constructed identities as adventuresses. These chapers include discussion of travel writing by such major figures as Mary Shelley, Isabella Bird Bishop, and Mary Kingsley as well as that of less-known travel writers such as Charlotte Eaton, Frances Elliot, Amelia Edwards, and Florence Dixie. She then assesses the work of more select groups of women, including Harriet Martineau, Anna Jameson, Lady Eastlake, and Frances Power Cobbe, who used their travel experiences to fashion professional identities as sociologists, ethnologists, historians, and art historians.
"These women discovered that they could use their writing as a forum to rethink the doctrine of `separate spheres,'" Frawley argues. Taken cumulatively, their work represents an unprecedented effort to cross psychological and institutional barriers perceived to be so central to Victorian culture. Despite - or perhaps because of - its noncanonical status, this literature challenges the stability of the "separate sphere" ideology that dominatcs thinking about Victorian women, their writing, and their culture. A Wider Range is certain to be of interest to anyone interested in Victorian literature, gender studies, and cultural studies.

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From Library Journal:

Frawley presents a scholarly study of what it meant for Victorian women to travel outside of England and to publish their findings upon their return. The introduction of steam locomotion and railways in the 19th century-and the work of travel entrepreneur Thomas Cook-allowed both men and women of the English middle and upper classes-Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Eastlake, Mary Kingsley, Harriet Martineau, and Frances Trollope, among them-to explore cultures other than their own. The author argues, however, that many of the women who chose travel writing over the more acceptable and lucrative genre of popular fiction did so to gain credibility and move into the "high prestige male speciality" genres of nonfiction. Organized by geographic region, this book is a solid study, well written and reasonably free of academic jargon, that will be of interest to scholars.
Caroline Mitchell, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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