In a career that spanned over forty years, Ella Hepworth Dixon (1857-1932) was alternately journalist, critic, essayist, short story writer, novelist, editor of a women's magazine, dramatist, and autobiographer. After an initial popularity, however, Ella Hepworth Dixon's work, like that of the majority of her contemporaries, remained largely unread for decades. In her new study, Valerie Fehlbaum sheds light on Dixon's life and work, and provides profound insight not only into Dixon herself but into the multifaceted character of the 'New Woman' writer that Dixon typified. The figure of the New Woman as representing new-found intellectual, social, and political freedom came to the fore towards the end of the nineteenth century when the term 'woman' was being interrogated on every imaginable level. In heated debates about woman's nature, primary questions such as 'what is a woman?' and 'what does a woman want?' were accompanied by subsidiary controversies about the precise role she should play in society. Fehlbaum's re-evaluation of Dixon's varied literary output enhances our understanding of this period of radical change for women, and shows that Ella Hepworth Dixon's writing remains as lively and pertinent today as it was when it was first published.
Table of Contents
Contents: Foreword; As I knew them: Ella Hepworth Dixon's own story of a modern woman; Ella Hepworth Dixon and the new woman; 'The Bastille of journalism'; Short stories of modern women; The Story of a Modern Woman; 'The world of the theatre'; Afterword; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
'A full-length study of this fascinating, if elusive, author is long overdue; but Ella Hepworth Dixon has been fortunate in attracting a meticulous, enthusiastic scholar to make a powerful case for the significance of her work for students of the period, and, in doing so, to tempt a new generation of readers to the delights of her writing.' Barbara Onslow, University of Reading, author of Women of the Press in Nineteenth-Century Britain 'Valerie Fehlbaum's Ella Hepworth Dixon is [...] welcome and necessary for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its inclusion of photographs of Dixon's birth and death certificates, along with lists of the periodical issues in which her short stories and essays (most of them uncollected) were published... [Readers] should turn here first for information about Dixon's career, as well as for illuminating, perceptive explanations of why her work has enjoyed a mini-revival... As Fehlbaum shows quite brilliantly, Dixon was a gifted storyteller and essayist, whole writing "strikes a happy balance between the socio-political and the literary" and retains today much of its original force and charm.' Victorian Studies