Mistress of the House: Women of Property in the Victorian Novel, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Mistress of the House

Women of Property in the Victorian Novel, 1st Edition

By Tim Dolin


168 pages

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Paperback: 9781138267442
pub: 2016-11-11
Hardback: 9781859281840
pub: 1997-12-11
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315248820
pub: 2016-12-05
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This exploration of gender and property ownership in eight important novels argues that property is a decisive undercurrent in narrative structures and modes, as well as an important gender signature in society and culture. Tim Dolin suggests that the formal development of nineteenth-century domestic fiction can only be understood in the context of changes in the theory and laws of property: indeed femininity and its representation cannot be considered separately from property relations and their reform. He presents original readings of novels in which a woman owns, acquires or loses property, focusing on exchanges between patriarchal cultural authority, the 'woman question' and narrative form, and on the place of domestic fiction in a culture in which property relations and gender relations are subject to radical review. Each chapter revolves around a representative text, but refers substantially to other material, both other novels and contemporary social, legal, political and feminist commentary.


’the readings of [Dolin’s] chosen works..are attentive to both important textual details and relevant historical contexts.’ Nineteenth-Century Literature ’Dolin does not make sustained arguements so much as a series of fine distinctions and evocative insights. But these critical coruscations are so smart, stylish, and thought-provoking, that they are bound to light up bigger ideas for each reader. It is an eciting addition to a rapidly growing field.’ Talia Schaffer, Victorian Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Women, property and victorian fiction; A woman, and something more: Shirley; Cranford and its belongings; ’He could get, but not keep’: Villette; Crimes of property: The Moonstone; Hardy’s uncovered women; Mistress of herself: Diana of the Crossways; Appendix 1: A brief summary of the laws concerning women (1854); Appendix 2: The Caroline Norton affair; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature