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Charlotte M Yonge

Religion, Feminism and Realism in the Victorian Novel

Gavin Budge

Charlotte M Yonge was one of the bestselling novelists of the Victorian period; she published prolifically during a lengthy writing career that lasted from the early 1850s to the 1890s, was highly regarded by contemporaries such as Tennyson and Kingsley, and continued to be widely read up till the 1940s even by unlikely figures such as Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Her work, on which Jane Austen exerted a significant influence, is central to an understanding of the development of the domestic novel, yet remains significantly less well known than that of other Victorian women writers such as Margaret Oliphant, Ellen Wood and M E Braddon. This book is the first full-length critical study of Yonge’s writings, and presents an argument for the artistic coherence of her work as a novelist, as well as examining the reasons for its current non-canonical status. Reflecting Yonge’s lifelong involvement in the Oxford Movement, and personal closeness to John Keble, the book situates her novels in the context of Tractarian aesthetics.
Contents: Realism, Domestic Ideology and the Tractarian Psychology of Religion – Reading Charlotte M. Yonge – Feminism and Yonge’s Christian Aesthetic – Development as a Theology of Character in Yonge and Newman – Yonge and the Theory of Fiction: a Reading of The Heir of Redclyffe – Typology and Realism in The Heir of Redclyffe – Realism, Utilitarianism and the Unconscious in The Heir of Redclyffe – Tractarianism, Feminism and the Nervous Female Body in Yonge’s Domestic Fiction – Tractarian Feminism in Yonge – Mesmerism, Tractarianism and Woman’s Mission – Feminism and the Supernatural in Yonge.