Elizabeth Gaskell’s Byronic Heroes: Wives and Daughters and North and South

  • Sarah Wootton


The remaining chapters of this book move on from the reception of the Byronic hero in the Romantic fiction of Jane Austen, and adaptations of her work, to the reception of this figure in the Victorian fiction of Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot. The focus on these authors, and adaptations of their work, may be as surprising as the previous focus on Austen, and yet it is equally revealing. Establishing previously neglected connections between these authors and the legacy of the Byronic hero achieves a dual purpose. First, it opens their fiction to new lines of enquiry and new critical approaches, as well as situating their work within new literary contexts. For Gaskell and Eliot, the figure of the Byronic hero is central to the interrelated concerns of masculinity and Romanticism. Second, re-evaluating the relationship between these authors and the afterlives of this Romantic poet enables a reassessment of the extent and significance of Byron’s influence, and the cultural reach of Byronism, in women’s writing of the Victorian period. The Byronic hero presented a unique opportunity for Eliot and Gaskell to enter current debates about masculinity and the fate of the hero. This figure served both novelists as a means of surreptitiously transgressing gender conventions and of engaging with, if not endorsing, a Byronic voice of dissent, a position established more broadly in the introduction.1


Scarlet Fever Woman Writer Social Agenda Painful Physical Symptom Romantic Poet 
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Copyright information

© Sarah Wootton 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Wootton
    • 1
  1. 1.Durham UniversityUK

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