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Title: Strategies of sensation and the transformation of the Press, 1860-1880 : Mary Braddon, Florence Marryat and Ellen Wood, female author-editors, and the sensation phenomenon in mid-Victorian magazine publishing
Author: Palmer, Beth Lilian
ISNI:       0000 0001 1598 1444
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the processes of writerly and editorial literary production undertaken by women sensation authors in the 1860s and 1870s. This focus represents a shift from the prevailing critical emphasis on the consumption of sensation fiction to the realm of production and therein allows the thesis to analyse the ways in which sensation operates as a set of rhetorical and linguistic strategies for women writers in the changing publishing conditions of mid-to-late Victorian society. I consider the ways in which sensation is an idiom that permeates all aspects of magazine publishing in this period and demonstrate how it could be adapted and become an empowering discourse for women writers and editors. Furthermore, this thesis sees sensation as an important component in the transformation of the press in the 1860s and 1870s. By analysing the specific ways in which sensational strategies were appropriated and transformed, this thesis reassesses the role of sensation in the creation of women’s writing in the second half of the nineteenth century, and consider its legacies in later ‘New Woman’ writers. I achieve this by examining three women editors, who were part of the transformation of magazine publishing in the period. Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915), Ellen (Mrs. Henry) Wood (1814-1887), and Florence Marryat (1837-1899) all operated as writers and editors in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. They produced varying types of sensational fiction that they serialised in their own monthly magazines, Belgravia, Argosy, and London Society respectively. Sensation provided a dynamic and flexible means for these women author-editors to assert their status in the context of the expansion of the press in the 1860s and 1870s. I argue that their work invites a more fluid and generous critical definition of sensation.
Supervisor: McDonagh, Josephine Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; History of the book ; Victorian literature ; sensation fiction ; editorship ; periodical press ; women's writing