Popular novelist, female aesthete, Victorian radical and proto-modernist, Lucas Malet (Mary St. Leger Harrison, 1852-1931) was one of the most successful writers of her day, yet few of her remarkable novels remain in print. Malet was a daughter of the ‘broad church’ priest and well-known Victorian author Charles Kingsley; her sister Rose, uncle, Henry Kingsley and her cousin Mary Henrietta Kingsley were also published authors. Malet was part of a creative dynasty from which she drew inspiration but against which she rebelled both in her personal life and her published work. This collection brings together for the first time a selection of scholarly essays on Malet’s life and writing, foregrounding her contributions to nineteenth- and twentieth-century discourses surrounding disability, psychology, religion, sexuality, the New Woman, and decadent, aesthetic and modernist cultural movements. The essays contained in this volume explore Malet’s authorial experience—from both within the mainstream of the British literary tradition and, curiously, from outside it—supplementing and nuancing current debates about fin-de-siècle women’s writing. The collection asks the question ‘who was Lucas Malet?’ and ‘how—despite its popularity—did her courageous, unique and fascinating writing disappear from view for so long?’
Table of Contents
Notes on Contributors
Brief Chronology of Lucas Malet’s Life and Works
Foreword: Patricia Lorimer Lundberg
Reading Malet "through the eyelashes": An Introduction to her Life and Work.
JANE FORD AND ALEXANDRA GRAY
1. Hysterical Bodies and Gothic Spaces: Lucas Malet’s "Moral Dissecting-Room."
LOUISE BENSON JAMES
2. "That very ugly saddle": Disability, Adaptation and Paternal Inheritance in The History of Sir Richard Calmady.
CLARE WALKER GORE
3. "Vanity of Vanities": The Bildungsroman, Corporeal Fragility and the Aesthetic Ideal in The Far Horizon.
4. Mad Dogs and English (New) Women: Grotesque Gender in The Carissima.
5. Cosmopolitan Romance and Feminist Aestheticism in Adrian Savage.
6. The Authorial Ambition of Deadham Hard: Reimagining Womanhood, Profession and Desire.
Malet and her Contemporaries
7. Reorienting the Bildungsroman: Progress Narratives, Queerness and Disability in The History of Sir Richard Calmady and Jude the Obscure.
8. Some Chapter of Some Other Story: Henry James, Lucas Malet, and the Real Past of The Sense of the Past.
9. Against the English Nation: The ideological Proto-modernism of The Far Horizon.
10. "Undecode-able wireless signals": Telepathy and Contamination in The Survivors.
In Memoriam, Ernest D. Chesterfield.
Telling the Untold Stories: Lucas Malet’s Critique of an Aesthetic Trope.
Jane Ford is a Lecturer in English Studies at Teesside University. She is a specialist in the literature and culture of the fin de siècle and she is currently completing a monograph which examines the complex network of metaphors that emerged around late-nineteenth-century conceptions of economic self-interest and exploitation. She is co-editor of Economies of Desire at the Victorian Fin de Siècle: Libidinal Lives (Routledge, 2016) and has published essays on Vernon Lee, Lucas Malet and Bertram Mitford.
Alexandra Gray is a Visiting Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Portsmouth. Alexandra’s research interests include the New Woman, fin-de-siècle literature and culture, art history and criticism and medical and psychiatric history. She has recently published her first monograph, Self-Harm in New Woman Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), and has also written on the work of Irish New Woman, George Egerton, hyperhidrosis in fiction, and the orphan figure in Victorian literature and culture. She is a co-editor of ‘The Gateless Barrier,’ an online impact project for the purposes of feminist literary recovery, featuring research on Lucas Malet’s life and work.