The University of Wisconsin Press

Literature & Criticism

Protest and Reform
The British Social Narrative by Women, 18271867
Joseph A. Kestner

The social novel in nineteenth-century Britain has been considered the effort of a predominantly male canon of writers. In this ground-breaking study, Joseph Kestner challenges that assumption, arguing that it was a succession of female writers—women often meriting only a footnote in literary history—who initiated and advanced the tradition using narrative fiction to register protest, expose abuses, and promote reform.

Kestner explores the contributions to Victorian social policy by the fiction of these neglected authors (Hannah More, Elizabeth Stone, Frances Trollope, Charlotte Tonna, Camilla Toulmin, Geraldine Jewsbury, Fanny Mayne, Julia Kavanagh, Dinah Mulock Craik) as well as of more prominent female authors (Maria Edgeworth, Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot) and male writers (Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, G. M. W. Reynolds, John Galt, Charles Kingsley).

John Kestner is professor of English at the University of Tulsa. He studied at Columbia University, where he was a President’s Fellow. He is author of The Spatiality of the Novel, as well as many essays in a variety of scholarly journals, including Poétique.

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English parents with their baby standing in the doorway to their home looking out

March 1985

LC: 84-040498 PR
280 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-10060-5

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