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Sleeping Beauties in Victorian Britain

Cultural, Literary and Artistic Explorations of a Myth

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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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Béatrice Laurent is Lecturer in Victorian and Cultural Studies at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane in Martinique. A Pre-Raphaelite scholar, she has contributed to Worldwide Pre-Raphaelitism (ed. T. Tobin, 2004) and several issues of the Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies. She is the editor of a volume of essays on William Morris’s News from Nowhere (2004) and the author of La Peinture anglaise (2006). Her research focuses on the interactions between theoretical discourses and the arts in nineteenthcentury Britain.

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