1st Edition

Women’s Writing and Mission in the Nineteenth Century Jane Eyre’s Missionary Sisters

By Angharad Eyre Copyright 2023
    264 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Until now, the missionary plot in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has been seen as marginal and anomalous. Despite women missionaries being ubiquitous in the nineteenth century, they appeared to be absent from nineteenth-century literature. As this book demonstrates, though, the female missionary character and narrative was, in fact, present in a range of writings from missionary newsletters and life writing, to canonical Victorian literature, New Woman fiction and women’s college writing. Nineteenth-century women writers wove the tropes of the female missionary figure and plot into their domestic fiction, and the female missionary themes of religious self-sacrifice and heroism formed the subjectivity of these writers and their characters. Offering an alternative narrative for the development of women writers and early feminism, as well as a new reading of Jane Eyre, this book adds to the debate about whether religious women in the nineteenth century could actually be radical and feminist.

    List of Figures


    List of Abbreviations


    Prologue - Ann Judson and Harriet Newell: Immortalising the Female Missionary

    Part I: 1830–1870

    1. Tales of Female Missionary Sacrifice: Tracts, Collective Biographies and Newsletters

    2. Missionary Self-Sacrifice in the Domestic Sphere: The Tracts and Novels of Martha Sherwood, Hesba Stretton and Dinah Craik

    3. Novel Approaches to Missionary Sacrifice: Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell

    Part II: 1880–1900

    4. Missionaries of the New: Sarah Grand, Olive Schreiner and Margaret Harkness

    5. Women, Religion and Power: University Women’s Missionary Writing





    Angharad Eyre currently teaches in the English Department at Queen Mary University of London and lives in the city with her husband and two small children.