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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the history of the term ‘New Woman’ and its use by women writers and their supporters and detractors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing on periodicals and the work of novelists, short story writers, and playwrights from Schreiner to Shaw, it considers the various positions embraced by the term and relates the motivations and approaches of the men and women who wrote about the New Woman to wider social and political concerns. Exploring the treatment of the New Woman in the novel, her pivotal role in the development of the short story, her presence on the stage, and popular representations, the chapter also examines the Edwardian sharpening of questions of class, labour, and suffrage and the ways in which this informed expressions of feminism. The chapter concludes by positioning the New Woman in relation to both modernism and a more pragmatic aesthetic.

Keywords: new woman, suffrage, feminism, essentialism, degeneration, periodical press, Mona Caird, Sarah Grand, Oliver Schreiner

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