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Leicester Special Collections

Women and Writing

Many women writers flourished in the Victorian literary marketplace. Whether challenging or working within the stifling gender codes that restricted female education and activity, these women shaped the literary climate. Authors like George Eliot and Margaret Oliphant rose to become influential cultural commentators as well as leading novelists. Advances in printing technology and professionalisation during the period were making literary careers potentially highly lucrative. Towards the end of the century, periodicals like Girl’s Own Paper were directed to emergent mass markets of female readers, while the potential for genuinely remunerative work tempted Art Nouveau illustrators like Alice B. Woodward. 

This section displays a small indication of the variety of works by nineteenth-century women, from the poetry of Anna Laetitia Barbauld to the Pre-Raphaelite verses of Christina Rossetti and the original volumes of Daniel Deronda, one of Eliot’s most complex novels. Research in the Victorian Studies Centre continues to challenge and develop our understanding of the roles of women in Victorian society. The selection of books by staff in the Centre also demonstrates the wealth of ongoing scholarship.