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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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Engendering Creative Negativity: Anne Thackeray Ritchie’s The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood (1866)

Extract



When will the hundred summers die,And thought and time be born again,And newer knowledge, drawing nigh,Bring truth that sways the soul of men?Here all things in their place remain,As all were order’d, ages since.Come, Care and Pleasure, Hope and Pain,And bring the fated fairy Prince.

— ALFRED TENNYSON, The Day Dream

Anne Thackeray Ritchie: Her ‘Little’ Writing and ‘Mild’ Revolution

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