“The Most Hateful of Professions?”
  • Peter Morton


Forty years ago, in a ground-breaking article “The Sociology of Authorship,” Richard Altick defined what he took to be “the essence of the literary situation” for professional writers in the last Victorian decades. By that time, said Altick, such writers were being forced to accommodate themselves to a new mass audience; an audience of “limited capacities and special expectations.” Each of them, he continued, had to deal in one way or another with the following question: “To what extent was he obliged, as a member of his age’s ruling class and supported, sometimes handsomely, by the pounds and shillings of his cultural inferiors, to debase his art, either for the sake of sheer intelligibility or for the more specific one of imparting desirable social, political, moral, and aesthetic attitudes?”1


Short Story Popular Science Mass Audience Professional Writer Popular Fiction 
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  1. 1.
    Richard D. Altick, “The Sociology of Authorship: The Social Origins, Education, and Occupations of 1,100 British Writers, 1800–1935,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 66 (June 1962), 403.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Frederic Harrison, Grant Allen, 1848–1899; An Address Delivered at Woking on October 27, 1899, privately printed [the Chiswick Press], 1899, 8.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    A selection by GA is in Alberto Manguei, ed., By the Light of the Glow-worm Lamp. Three Centuries of Reflections on Nature, Plenum, 1998. This gives the title “Prophetic Autumn” to a passage from Moorland Idylls (1896), which is merged without explanation with an article “Our Winged House-fellows,” which first appeared in the English Illustrated Magazine in 1894.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Andrew Lang, “At the Sign of the Ship,” Longman’s Magazine, 34 (December 1899), 183–192.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Frank Harris, Contemporary Portraits. Fourth Series, Grant Richards, 1924, pp. 94–95.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Clement Shorter, “The Late Grant Allen,” The Critic [New York], 36 (January 1900), 41.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    GA, “The Burden of the Specialist,” Westminster Gazette, 3 (February 27, 1894), 1.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Critical discussions of GA’s work over the last 30 years have been almost entirely about The Woman Who Did and its context: Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own, Princeton University Press, 1977;Google Scholar
  9. Lloyd Fernando, New Women in the Late Victorian Novel, Penn State University Press, 1977;Google Scholar
  10. Gail Cunningham, The New Woman and the Victorian Novel, Macmillan, 1978;Google Scholar
  11. Patricia Stubbs, Women and Fiction: Feminism and the Novel 1880–1920, Harvester, 1979;Google Scholar
  12. Elaine Showalter, Sexual Anarchy, Viking, 1990;Google Scholar
  13. Ann Ardis, New Women, New Novels: Feminism and Early Modernism, Rutgers University Press, 1992;Google Scholar
  14. Victor Luftig, Seeing Together: Friendship between the Sexes in English Writing, from Mill to Woolf Stanford University Press, 1993;Google Scholar
  15. Lucy Bland, Banishing the Beast: English Feminism and Sexual Morality 1885–1914, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995;Google Scholar
  16. Sally Ledger, The New Woman: Fiction and Feminism at the fin de siècle, Manchester University Press, 1997;Google Scholar
  17. Arlene Young, Culture, Class, and Gender in the Victorian Novel: Gentlemen, Gents, and Working Women, Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, 1999;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. and Ann Heilmann, New Woman Fiction: Women Writing First-Wave Feminism, Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Four studies have dealt with other aspects of GA: Gerald Levin, “Grant Allen’s Scientific and Aesthetic Philosophy,” Victorians Institute Journal, 12 (1984), 77–89;Google Scholar
  20. Christopher Keep, “The Cultural Work of the Type-writer Girl,” Victorian Studies, 40 (Spring 1997), 401–426;Google Scholar
  21. and Barbara Arnett Melchiori, Terrorism in the Late Victorian Novel, Croom Helm, 1985; and Grant Allen: The Downward Path Which Leads to Fiction, Rome: Bulzoni Editore, 2000.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Regarding biographical information, the only published material that substantially supplements Clodd is to be found in the following: Blathwayt, Interviews, 68–75; “JSC” [James Sutherland Cotton], “Allen, Grant,” Dictionary of National Biography, 22 (Supplement), 36–38; Andrew Lang, “Mr Grant Allen. In Memoriam,” Daily News, October 28, 1899, 7; Richard Le Gallienne, “Grant Allen,” Fortnightly Review, 66 (December 1899), 1005–1025, reprinted as Grant Allen, Tucker [1900] and again in his Attitudes and Avowals (1910);Google Scholar
  23. and Frank Harris, Contemporary Portraits. Fourth Series, Grant Richards, 1924. Allen’s nephew Grant Richards provides more information in the following: “Mr Grant Allen and His Work,” Novel Review, 1 (June 1892), 261–268; Memories of a Misspent Youth 1872–1896, Heinemann, 1932; and Author Hunting By an Old Literary Sportsman: Memories of Years Spent Mainly in Publishing, 1897–1925, Hamish Hamilton, 1934.Google Scholar
  24. There are a few extra details about Allen’s ancestry in George Herbert Clarke, “Grant Allen,” Queen’s Quarterly, 45 (1938), 487–496.Google Scholar
  25. 24.
    Walter Besant, The Pen and the Book, Thomas Burleigh, 1899, 134.Google Scholar
  26. 25.
    Regarding GA and his publishers and agent, see the following. For John Lane see J.W. Lambert and Michael Ratcliffe, The Bodley Head 1887–1987, The Bodley Head, 1987;Google Scholar
  27. Wendell V. Harris, “John Lane’s ‘Keynotes’ Series and the Fiction of the 1890’s,” PMLA, 83 (October 1968), 1407–1413;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. J. Lewis May, John Lane and the Nineties, The Bodley Head, 1936;Google Scholar
  29. Katherine Lyon Mix, A Study in Yeltow: The Teltow Book and Its Contributors, Constable/University of Kansas Press, 1960;Google Scholar
  30. James G. Nelson, The Early Nineties: A View from the Bodley Head, Harvard University Press, 1971;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Margaret D. Stetz and Mark Samuels Lasner, England in the 1890s: Literary Publishing at the Bodley Head, Georgetown University Press, 1990;Google Scholar
  32. Margaret Diane Stetz, “Sex, Lies, and Printed Cloth: Bookselling at the Bodley Head in the Eighteen-Nineties,” Victorian Studies, 35:1 (Autumn 1991), 76–86. There is also one file about Lane/GA business in CW.Google Scholar
  33. Part of Bernard Lightman, “‘The Voices of Nature’: Popularizing Victorian Science,” in Victorian Science in Context, ed. Bernard Lightman, University of Chicago Press, 1997 provides a useful overview.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 28.
    ALS to Hubert Bland, “Aug. 9,” Bodleian Library, Oxford. MS.Eng. lett.e.120, fols. 30–31. Allen did join the Fabians in 1891 but took no active part in the society. See ZZ Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie, The First Fabians, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977, 148. He joined the Society of Authors in 1889 but played no significant role in it and is not mentioned in the history of the Society, Victor Bonham-Carter’s Authors by Profession (1978).Google Scholar

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© Peter Morton 2005

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  • Peter Morton

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