Retailing The Woman Who Did

  • Peter Morton


Whatever one’s opinion of The Woman Who Did, one thing is indisputable: its appearance was a public relations and marketing triumph. Two sharp-witted men, the author and his publisher, collaborated over bringing it to market with a great flourish, and the results were all they hoped for.


Marriage Ceremony Woman Question Yellow Book Free Union Free Love 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Peter D. McDonald, British Literary Culture and Publishing Practice 1880–1914, Cambridge University Press, 1997, has an excellent discussion of Lane’s policy and practices (77–78).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Lane’s engineered rarities are discussed in Margaret D. Stetz and Mark Samuels Lasner, England in the 1890s: Literary Publishing at the Bodley Head, Georgetown University Press, 1990, 46; and Margaret Diane Stetz, “Sex, Lies, and Printed Cloth: Bookselling at the Bodley Head in the Eighteen-Nineties,” Victorian Studies, 35:1 (Autumn 1991), 74. GA’s response to Lane’s offer was dismissive. “Many thanks for your offer of copies with the old title page: but no thank you, I would prefer the new one. To tell you the truth, being an author, I prefer that my friends should have the title of the books in the way I intended it than have a mere rarity.” Dictated LS to John Lane, “Jan 23rd” [1894], WAC.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    The Lanchester affair: discussed, e.g., in David Rubinstein, Before the Suffragettes: Women’s Emancipation in the 1890s, Harvester, 1986, 58–63;Google Scholar
  4. Karen Hunt, Equivocal Feminists: The Social Democratic Federation and the Woman Question 1884–1911, Cambridge University Press, 1996, 94–106. For GA’s reaction, see MS Clodd Diary, entry for March 22, 1896: “Talk fell on the Lanchester case: Allen quite surprised me by his hesitation to approve in the concrete what he preaches in the abstract,” Leeds. Lanchester received scant sympathy from the SDF or its mouthpiece Justice, as Hunt shows.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 7.
    Chris Healy, The Confessions of a Journalist, Chatto & Windus, 1904, 31.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Richard Le Gallienne, Retrospective Reviews: A Literary Log. Vol II (1893–1895), John Lane, 1896, 225.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    D.F. Hannigan, “Sex in Fiction,” Westminster Review, 143 (1895), 619.Google Scholar
  8. 28.
    GA, “A Biologist on the Woman Question,” Pall Mall Gazette, 49 (January 11, 1889), 1–2.Google Scholar
  9. 32.
    GA, “The Role of Prophet,” in Post-Prandial Philosophy, Chatto & Windus, 1894, 61–62; originally published in the Westminster Gazette, 1 (March 8, 1893), 1–2.Google Scholar
  10. 33.
    While wintering on the Riviera, GA ordered a copy of the first substantial biography of Shelley, Edward Dowden’s The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1886). It is not a question of whether Dowden is reliable but whether GA ignores and distorts Dowden’s picture for his own ends, which he certainly does. Dowden quotes from the brief of Shelley’s own counsel: “Mr Shelley marries twice before he is twenty-five! He is no sooner liberated from the despotic chains, which he speaks of with so much horror and contempt, than he forges a new set, and becomes again a willing victim of this horrid despotism!” Dowden quotes also Shelley’s own notes for the court, in which he asserted, “he had [now] in his practice accommodated himself to the feelings of the community” (Dowden, Life, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951, 343, 348). If it be objected that Shelley may have been modifying his views under duress here, it should be noted that Dowden also quotes Shelley’s later opinion that Queen Mab was “villainous trash,” and describes how Shelley tried to suppress a pirated edition. GA (and his mouthpiece) ignores all this. No doubt GA was also reacting against Arnold’s notorious review essay on Dowden’s biography (“What a set! What a world! is the exclamation that breaks from us as we come to an end of this history of ‘the occurrences of Shelley’s private life,’ “ etc.), which appeared in the Nineteenth Century for January 1888. Perhaps it is just as well that GA did not live to see the retrieval by Hotson in 1930 of Shelley’s letters to his wife at the time of their separation.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    All these threads are traced admirably by Keith Thomas in “The Double Standard,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 20 (April 1959), 195–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 35.
    GA, “About the New Hedonism,” Humanitarian: A Monthly Review of Sociological Science, 5 (September 1894), 184–185.Google Scholar
  13. 37.
    William Edward Hartpole Lecky, History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, 13th impression, Longman’s, Green, 1899, II, 283 [first ed. 1869].Google Scholar
  14. 41.
    Susan Budd, Varieties of Unbelief: Atheists and Agnostics in English Society 1850–1960, Heinemann, 1977, 163.Google Scholar
  15. 46.
    H.G. Wells, Tono-Bungay, Book 2, Chapter 1; first published 1908.Google Scholar
  16. 49.
    Andrew Lang, “At The Sign of the Ship,” Longman’s Magazine, 34 (December 1899), 183–192.Google Scholar
  17. 54.
    Acton is quoted by Eric Trudgill, Madonnas and Magdalens: The Origins and Development of Victorian Sexual Attitudes, Heinemann, 1976, 291, who discusses the rise and fall of this cult in detail.Google Scholar
  18. 57.
    GA, “The Trade of Author,” Fortnightly Review, 51/45 (February 1889), 269; unsigned.Google Scholar

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© Peter Morton 2005

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  • Peter Morton

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