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Sleeping Beauties in Victorian Britain

Cultural, Literary and Artistic Explorations of a Myth


Edited By Beatrice Laurent

Artists, scientists and the wider public of the Victorian era all seem to have shared a common interest in the myth of the Briar Rose and its contemporary implications, from the Pre-Raphaelites and late Victorian aesthetes to the fascinated crowds who visited Ellen Sadler, the real-life ‘Sleeping Maid’ who is reported to have slept from 1871 to 1880.
The figure of the beautiful reclining female sleeper is a recurring theme in the Victorian imagination, invoking visual, literary and erotic connotations that contribute to a complex range of readings involving aesthetics, gender definitions and contemporary medical opinion. This book compiles and examines a corpus of Sleeping Beauties drawn from Victorian medical reports, literature and the arts and explores the significance of the enduring revival of the myth.
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The idea for the present volume, and some of the chapters in it, originated in a seminar organized during the European Society for the Study of English Conference in September 2012 hosted by Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey.

It is therefore my pleasure to thank the conference organizers and more specifically Professor Isil Bas and my seminar co-convenor Dr Federica Mazzara, who contributed to make this event a success. I also wish to thank the research group Cultures Anglo-Saxonnes based at the Université Toulouse-Le Mirail and its Director, Professor Philippe Birgy, for their financial support towards the organization of this seminar.

Turning collected seminar papers into a book would have been impossible without the intellectual and material support of Professor Barrie Bullen, the patient encouragement of Dr Laurel Plapp, and the financial help of the Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires en Lettres, Langues, Arts et Sciences Humaines based at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane and its Director, Professor Corinne Mencé-Caster.

For their assistance with reproducing images of works in their keeping we should like to thank The Faringdon Collection Trust, Buscot Park, Oxfordshire, the Ruskin Collection, Museums Sheffield, the Ruskin Library, Lancaster University, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The staff of the Museo de Ponce were very helpful in giving me access to paintings from their collection at a time when they were busy organizing a special exhibition. Special thanks go to Dr Michael Pritchard, Director-General...

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