Scientist, Philosopher, Poet
Constance Naden (1858–1889) is a unique voice in Victorian literature and science. This book, the first full-length critical account of her life and works, brings into focus the reciprocal nature of Naden’s poetry, philosophical essays and scientific studies. The development of Naden’s thinking is explored in detail, with newly discovered unpublished poems and notes from her adolescence shedding important light upon this progression.
Close readings of Naden’s wide-ranging corpus of poetry and prose trace her commitment to an interdisciplinary world-scheme that sought unity in diversity. This book demonstrates how a rigorous scientific education, a thorough engagement with poetry and philosophy of the long nineteenth century, an involvement with the Victorian radical atheist movement, and a comic sensibility each shaped Naden’s intellectual achievements. Naden sought to show how the light of reason is made even brighter by the spark of poetic creation and how the imagination is as much a tool of the scientist and the philosopher as the artist.
Taking a comprehensive approach to this complex and overlooked figure of the Victorian period, Stainthorp demonstrates how Naden’s texts provide a new and important vantage point from which to consider synthetic thinking as a productive and creative force within nineteenth-century intellectual culture.
This book was the winner of the 2017 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in Nineteenth-Century Studies.
A Comprehensive Chronological Bibliography of Constance Naden’s Writings
Poems; by Constance C. W. Naden. 1875, Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library, USS 115.
Poems; by Constance C. W. Naden. 1875–6–7, Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library, USS 115.
Untitled Notebook [1878–9], Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library, USS 115.
Constance C. W. Naden, ‘The Lake Dwellings of Switzerland’, in Proceedings, Mason College Physical Society 1884–1886, Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library, UB/SOC4/2/1.
Constance C. W. Naden, ‘Hylo-Idealism’, in Proceedings, Mason College Physical Society 1886–1887, Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library, UB/SOC4/2/2.
‘Constance Caroline Woodhill Naden – Last Will and Testament’, 16 August 1888, Principal Registry, England and Wales.
‘Letter from Constance Naden to Edith Cooper, 14 July 1889’, Papers of ‘Michael Field’ (Bodleian Special Collections), Eng.lett.e.33 fols 57–60.
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