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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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Notes on Contributors


MURIEL ADRIEN is currently a senior lecturer at the English Department of Toulouse University, France, where she teaches courses in visual studies and British painting. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the representation of light in landscapes and nightscapes in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British art and published several articles on British painting. She is chief editor of the peer-reviewed online journal on the English-speaking world, Miranda.

STEFANIA ARCARA is a lecturer in English literature at the University of Catania, Italy. Her interests focus on gender and cultural studies. She has published in the areas of early modern women’s writing, Victorian literature and culture, travel writing and literary translation. Besides contributions to British and Italian journals, her publications include Oscar Wilde e la Sicilia: temi mediterranei nell’estetismo inglese (1998; 2005), Constructing the South: Sicily, Southern Italy and the Mediterranean in British Culture, 1773–1926 (2000), Messaggere di Luce: storia delle quacchere Katherine Evans e Sarah Cheevers prigioniere dell’Inquisizione (2007), and a critical edition and Italian translation of Elizabeth Siddal’s poems and letters, Di rivi e gigli. Poesie e lettere di Elizabeth Siddal (2009). She is currently working on Victorian pornography.

ANNE CHASSAGNOL is a lecturer in English studies at the University Paris 8. A specialist of British children’s literature, she has published numerous articles on Victorian fairy tales and their rewriting. The author of La renaissance féerique à l’ère victorienne (Peter Lang, 2010), she is interested in the pictorial representations of fairies...

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