Exploring History

British Culture and Society 1700 to the Present – Essays in Honour of Professor Emma Harris

by Lucyna Krawczyk-Żywko (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 158 Pages


This volume of essays in honour of Professor Emma Harris explores various branches of British history from 1700 to the present. The range of topics reflects the varied academic interests of the authors, who are friends, colleagues, and former students of Professor Harris. The essays take us on a journey through time, beginning with Queen Anne, eighteenth-century translations of literature, literary criticism, and ethnographical writings on witches. From there we proceed to Lord Byron, the outcast playwright, Victorian Englishness, modernist foreignness, the effect of World War I on language, and World War II on fashion. The collection also incorporates reflections on subcultural studies and on the fascination of the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Dedicatory Letter
  • From the Editor
  • Queen Anne’s Cultural Afterlife
  • Literary Criticism in English Miscellany Periodicals (1730s–1750s)
  • Antiquaries at War: Witchcraft and Superstition in Early English Ethnographical Writings
  • Some Tendencies in Polish Translations of Eighteenth-Century English Literature
  • Byron: The Outcast Playwright
  • Victorian Englishness and G.M. Hopkins
  • Foreignness in Katherine Mansfield’s Bliss and Other Stories
  • “Hoarse Oaths that Kept our Courage Straight”: The Great War, Language, and Silence
  • Politics and Fashion: British Parliamentary Debate on Utility Suits
  • The Problem of Deviance in Subcultural Studies
  • From Hell via London to Paris or Łódź: Rewriting the “Jack the Ripper” Setting
  • From the Authors
  • Index

Małgorzata Grzegorzewska

Dedicatory Letter

To Emma. Living Here and Now.

There are other places, …

But this is the nearest, in place and time,

Now and in England.

(T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”)

The life of Academia is sometimes portrayed as an ideal mode of existence, separated from the turmoil of economic pressures, social tensions, political struggles, racial, national or religious prejudice. It can also be idealized in a different way, as a gathering of hermits entirely devoted to study or caricatured as a mad jostling of egoistic individuals, thinking only about themselves and preoccupied with their distinct fields of interest. Yet neither of these images does justice to the complex and uncertain world of the contemporary university, struggling with bureaucratic formalism and indifference. Knowledge cannot grow or develop without people who understand that both research, writing and teaching need careful attention and nurturing. Without this awareness, the humanities would soon wither away.

This volume of essays is devoted to one of those very few academics who in our times dared to envisage the University as a space of fertile dialogue, dialogue that is sometimes tough and demanding, but at the same time is always respectful of difference, dialogue concerning past and present; language, literature and culture; society and the individual; memory and imagination. Professor Emma Harris has been passionately involved over many years in the development of English as an academic discipline, and those of us who are associated with the Institute of English Studies in Warsaw are deeply indebted to her. She has always stressed the importance of attending to the human in the humanities, of accepting both solemnity and humour in others. She has taught us to cherish both the rigorously rational and the intensely emotional, the competitive and the cooperative.

It is almost impossible to speak about other people without falling into banality or repeating worn-out stereotypes. Language proves an inadequate means of expressing simple, heartfelt gratitude, admiration and friendship. There is always a danger of saying too little for lack of adequate words, or conversely, of saying ← 7 | 8 → too much, thereby trading truth for self-important eloquence. Let this book then speak simply to you, dear Emma, of our gratitude and affection. Thank you for your kind, generous and understanding presence among us. From all of those who contributed their essays to this volume and all of those who join them in presenting it to you. Enjoy! ← 8 | 9 →

Lucyna Krawczyk-Żywko

From the Editor

The idea behind the subject and time span of the present volume was twofold: Emma Harris’s interests and the interests of her friends and colleagues who kindly contributed the papers. The Professor’s academic research includes British nineteenth-century social and cultural history, economic history, and political immigrants in nineteenth-century Britain. She has been teaching classes on British social and cultural history as well as biographies, and lecturing on the history of England. The manifestations of culture discussed here cover a wide range of topics and reflect the varied academic interests of their authors – and yet, surprisingly naturally, they organised themselves chronologically with some thematic crossovers: from Queen Anne through the eighteenth-century literary translation and criticism, press and antiquaries, witches and a Romantic outcast playwright, Victorian Englishness and Modernist Foreignness, World War I and its language, World War II and its effect on clothing, to contemporary subcultural studies, and obsessions with an old mystery.

Professor Harris is one of the people who deserve such a book gift. I have gathered a kind of bouquet to accompany it, consisting of the author’s own words. These paper flowers are not signed but I am sure she will know who stands behind every single one of them.

This book would not have been possible without the invaluable support of a few people. First of all, I am grateful to Professor Małgorzata Grzegorzewska for the idea that initiated the project and for her assistance, which helped realise it. My thanks also go to Professor Dominika Oramus for her organisational advice and to Dorota Traczewska, who lend me a hand with the more technical matters of preparing this volume. I am particularly indebted to Barry Keane for his native speaker’s eye; your comments and suggestions were fair, not hard. My thanks are also due to those who read draft versions of my paper, especially, as always, to my Reader No. 1. And, last but not least, I would like to thank all the contributors: from the first email to the last, it has been a pleasure. ← 9 | 10 →

← 10 | 11 →

Dorota Babilas

Queen Anne’s Cultural Afterlife

It seems that Queen Anne (r. 1702–1714), the last of the Stuarts, despite the many great achievements of her reign has not attained the kind of legendary status associated with some of the other British female monarchs, especially Elizabeth I and Victoria. When the next female sovereign, Queen Victoria, acceded to the throne on 20 June 1837, Anne – at least in the young Queen’s view – could only serve as a negative example of proper royal behaviour. She was condemned as physically unattractive, intellectually dull, as having failed to give her dynasty an heir, and bullied by an unscrupulous bevy of ambitious favourites in political matters. Already as a princess, in November 1834, Victoria wrote condescendingly about her predecessor in a letter to her uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians: “I am much obliged to you, dear Uncle, for the extract about Queen Anne, but must beg you, as you have sent me to show what a Queen ought not to be, that you will send me what a Queen ought to be” (Weintraub 85). According to Clare Jerrold, the only inspiration taken from Queen Anne was for Victoria to wear the Order of the Garter modestly on the left arm (127). The sentiment was shared by Victoria’s court. Welcoming the new monarch, Lord John Russell, the then Home Secretary, expressed the opinion of the government hoping that Victoria would be “an Elizabeth without her tyranny, an Anne without her weakness” (Strachey 38). A few years later, Victoria clashed with her ministers over the title that had been given to her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The Queen proposed a “King-Consort”, but the ministers disagreed and pointed to the previous example of Prince George of Denmark, the consort of Queen Anne, created Duke of Cumberland in 1689. As Sir Sydney Lee notes, “the Queen was galled by the comparison” of her beloved Albert with the man she expressly called “stupid and insignificant” (112). Considering this, it feels legitimate to ask to what extent these unusually strong judgements were justified and whether they were widely shared by the Victorian public opinion – also, whether the black PR levelled on Queen Anne has proven to be a lasting cultural legacy.

In fact, already in the historical works of the Victorian era, “Good Queen Anne” is seen to share some of the important characteristics with both “Good Queen Bess” and “Good Queen Vic”. Victoria’s attitude towards Elizabeth was respectful, if somewhat ambivalent (Babilas 339), therefore it appears surprising that her opinion on Anne – who even took the same motto as Elizabeth, ← 11 | 12 → Semper Eadem (Dobson and Watson 72) – should be so crushingly negative. Like Elizabeth, Anne was the last scion of a once powerful dynasty; with her childless death the reign of the Stuarts ended and a new family, in this case the Hanoverians, was invited to the British throne. However, unlike the Virgin Queen who made a political point of her refusal to marry and bear children, Anne was a devoted wife and strove all her life to produce offspring. If measured by the number of pregnancies, her fecundity would exceed even Victoria’s. Unfortunately, whereas all of Victoria’s nine children reached adulthood, Anne’s seventeen pregnancies most often ended in miscarriage or stillbirth, and the few children who survived delivery died very young. The last hope of the Protestant branch of the Stuart dynasty, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, succumbed to pneumonia in July 1700, a few days after his eleventh birthday.

Queen Anne’s reign – much like Elizabeth’s and Victoria’s – was an age when British culture flourished. In 1886, William Henry Davenport Adams published two volumes entitled Good Queen Anne; or Men and Manners, Life and Letters in England’s Augustan Age. Surprisingly, the historian had little to say about the Queen who was supposed to preside over this splendid renaissance of the arts. The volumes are mostly devoted to the study of the theatre, music, architecture, press and literature of the period; the Queen provided no more than a figurehead in whose name the achievements were accomplished. In terms of her intellect, Anne was no prodigy like Elizabeth. The name “Augustan Age” also did not stick; nowadays it is used to refer rather to a period in ancient Roman history when Augustus was the first emperor. Still, the notion of “Queen Anne style” was popularised in the second half of the nineteenth century to denote an anachronistic fashion in furniture and buildings, largely owing to the success of W.M. Thackeray’s historical novel The History of Henry Esmont (1852), which was set at the turn of the eighteenth century.

Actually, concerning her intellectual ability, Queen Anne shared quite a lot with Queen Victoria. Both were brought up in a sheltered environment away from the hustle and bustle of the royal court; they had a rather limited education and expressed no particular interest in the scholarly disputes of their times. Anne was not an avid reader, but neither was Victoria – the former, as Robert O. Bucholz observes, at least could blame her lack of interest in literature on “poor eyesight [that] precluded her from deriving enjoyment from reading, plays or paintings” (116). They both liked music and learned to play musical instruments. The recent study by James Anderson Winn and the volume edited by Cedric D. Reverand emphasise the role of Queen Anne as patroness of artists, particularly composers and poets. There was a bit of physical similarity between the Queens, too. Both Anne and Victoria ← 12 | 13 → suffered from obesity and practically became invalids in later life. The Victorians could be quite cruel in their descriptions of the last Stuart Queen. Winn quotes the clergyman Whitwell Elwin describing Anne as “ugly, corpulent, gouty, sluggish, a glutton and a tippler” (xvii) in his edition of the works by Alexander Pope. Most of these epithets were at some later point in history used to describe Queen Victoria as well, with the exception that Anne’s condition was exacerbated by gout.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (July)
biographies witchcraft jack the ripper lord byron identity fahion
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 158 pp.

Biographical notes

Lucyna Krawczyk-Żywko (Volume editor)

Lucyna Krawczyk-Żywko is Assistant Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies of the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland. Her research interests include Victorian and Neo-Victorian studies. She co-edited We the Neo-Victorians. Perspectives on Literature and Culture (2013).


Title: Exploring History
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160 pages