Imagining men : Charlotte M. Yonge and mid-Victorian masculinities
This thesis studies some of the writings of Charlotte Yonge as a route into the cultural concepts of masculinity in the mid-nineteenth century. In her many best-selling publications, both fiction and non-fiction, together with her editorial control of The Monthly Packet, Yonge provided imaginary constructions of manliness for numerous mid- Victorians. Her complex domestic stories demonstrated versions of appropriate behaviour by men and considered how such constructions of manliness might be engendered within families and communities. An examination of her work in an exact historical context sheds light on the standpoints, anxieties and beliefs of significant sections of Victorian society. Yonge had many connections with the armed services. The first chapter examines both the transformation within those parts of the army with which Yonge's family was associated and the gradual shift in attitudes to the military in wider society during the 1850s. A consideration of how brothers and sons might be fashioned into soldiers provides the theme of the second chapter. Yonge's early enthusiasm as reflected in Kenneth; or the Rearguard of the Grand Army (1850) is contrasted with the doubts apparent in The Young Stepmother (1861) set at the time of the Crimean War. The unhappy military experiences ofYonge's brother Julian are used to counterpoint her fictional representations. Chapter Three explores notions of fatherhood both within the family and the community, with patriarchy viewed in a more inclusive and positive role than its usual twenty-first century interpretation. Henrietta's Wish (1850) and Hopes and fears (1860) are examined in this light. The following chapter is devoted to Yonges role in the promotion of mission work as a virile, attractive occupation for educated men, a perfect combination of valour without violence, where men must be prepared to sacrifice their lives. Finally, an account of the difficulties of Yonge' s relationships with the historian E. A. Freeman is given to illuminate the gendered assumptions interwoven into different categories of history-writing from mid-century. This chapter concludes with a brief assessment of The Little Duke (1854).