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«An Inward Necessity»

The Writer’s Life of Lucas Malet

Patricia Lorimer Lundberg

As Lucas Malet, Mary St. Leger (Kingsley) Harrison (1852-1931) published seventeen novels and many short stories during a dramatic time of change for women. A daughter of Charles Kingsley, Malet was compared favorably with George Meredith, Henry James, and George Eliot. Praised for her craftsmanship, she shocked readers with daring treatments of seduction and betrayal, illicit love, disability, despair, and gender politics. Malet’s work spans the Victorian, fin-de-siècle, Edwardian, and modernist periods and makes contributions to realism, naturalism, aestheticism, Gothic, and modernist experimental writing as well as to gender politics and lesbian studies. Once one of England’s most critically acclaimed writers, she counted Henry James and Thomas Hardy among her friends, even influencing their fiction. Although her novels were books of the year in 1891 and 1901 (The Wages of Sin and The History of Sir Richard Calmady), she died in penury. Drawing extensively from unpublished archives, this biography contributes the essential framework for the burgeoning study of Lucas Malet’s fiction.