‘Nothing But Foolscap and Ink’: Inventing the New Woman

  • Talia Schaffer


Did the New Woman really exist? The question is not quite as naive as it seems. Of course the fin de siècle saw real women who agitated for greater autonomy in everything from etiquette to employment. While there were some prominent leaders — women like Mona Caird, Lady Jeune, and Sarah Grand — most of the women associated with the new movement lived a much humbler life. Working as clerks, typists, teachers, college students, journalists, or perhaps even shopgirls, they often lived in painfully spartan flats, struggling to earn enough money for genteel gowns and living primarily on bread and tea. They walked without chaperones, carried their own latchkeys, bicycled, and the more daring ones smoked cigarettes, cut their hair, or wore divided skirts and plain costume in accordance with the principles of rational dress.1 These women rarely described themselves as ‘New Women’; that is a modern usage.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Talia Schaffer

There are no affiliations available

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