© 2016

British Women Writers and the Reception of Ancient Egypt, 1840–1910

Imperialist Representations of Egyptian Women

  • Authors

About this book


This book shows how British women writers' encounters with textual and visual representations of ancient Egyptian women such as Hathor, Isis, and Cleopatra influenced how British women represented their own desired emancipation in novels, poetry, drama, romances, and fictional treatises. Molly Youngkin argues that canonical women writers such as Florence Nightingale and George Eliot—and less canonical figures such as Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper (who wrote under the name 'Michael Field') and Elinor Glyn—incorporated their knowledge of ancient Egyptian women's cultural power in only a limited fashion when presenting their visions for emancipation. Often, they represented ancient Greek women or Italian Renaissance women rather than ancient Egyptian women, since Greek and Italian cultures were more familiar and less threatening to their British audience. This notable distinction opens up discussions about the history of British women, their writing, and the British view on gender in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Britain fiction gender George Eliot history of literature literature nineteenth century novel social science sociology women

About the authors

Molly Youngkin is Professor of English at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA. Her previous publications include Feminist Realism at the Fin de Siècle: The Influence of the Late-Victorian Woman's Press on the Development of the Novel (2007) and an annotated edition of Sarah Grand's 1888 novel Ideala (2008).

Bibliographic information


“British Women Writers and the Reception of Ancient Egypt offers a new perspective on a set of authors and texts which will help to open up the study of Victorian receptions of ancient Egypt, as well as being of interest to scholars and students of nineteenth-century literature, postcolonialisms, and gender studies.” (Laura Eastlake, English Literature in Transition, Vol. 60 (4), 2017)