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Title: The gentlewoman as creative artist in the life and romances of Ann Radcliffe, 1764-1823
Author: Ede, W. R.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1986
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Ann Radcliffe's concept of the role of the gentlewoman as creative artist determined the nature and length of her literary career. A survey is made of the attitudes of other writers to their work and their status as writers in order to provide a context for discussion of Ann Radcliffe's role as a female writer. The biographical evidence, and the portrait of the gentlewoman as creative artist in Radcliffe's romances, show that she believed that the familial and social duties of the gentlewoman took precedence over her performance as a creative artist. Indeed, the creative activity should only be used to make her more effective in the performance of her duties as a gentlewoman. History and unreality are used in the romances to comment on the present while distancing the narratives, and avoiding the masculine appearance of overt commentary on current events. Some of the elements which are usually read as unreal Gothic sensationalism are based on everyday realities, or the findings of what then passed for historical scholarship. There is biographical evidence of Radcliffe's interest in politics. The narratives' function as political and religious romances is explained with reference to events and writings of their period. Religious and political events of Radcliffe's own time, like the Regency Crisis, Pitt's 'Reign of Terror', Wesley's encouragement of superstitious credulity, and the disestablishment of the Gallican Church, are related to the aristocratic worldview presented in the romance. Radcliffe's decision to cease publication was the result of the conflict between her literary career and her duties as a gentlewoman. Radcliffe's acceptance of the limited role of the gentlewoman led her to make a response to current events which abstracted the essence of the social changes of the period. As a result she achieved a considerable and enduring influence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available