The University of Wisconsin Press

Literary Criticism / Gay & Lesbian Studies / Women’s Studies


The Pilgrimage of Dorothy Richardson
Joanne Winning

A subtle and carefully argued account of the encoding of lesbian sexuality in Richardson’s multi volume autobiographical novel.”
—Suzanne Raitt, University of Michigan, author of Vita and Virginia

, Dorothy Richardson’s thirteen-volume opus of autobiographical fiction, follows the entire arc of an independent woman's life in early twentieth-century Britain. It is one of the major works of the modernist period; indeed, it is considered by many a classic of modernist literature. Despite this status, Joanne Winning argues in The Pilgrimage of Dorothy Richardson that the novels have remained misunderstood in several important ways. Although Pilgrimage has been the subject of previous works of criticism, Winning’s analysis is the first to fully explore the issues of lesbian identity in the novels.

Through an examination of primary materials, manuscript drafts, and Richardson’s previously unstudied correspondence, Winning demonstrates that Pilgrimage contains a carefully constructed, though concealed, subtext of lesbian desire and sexuality. The Pilgrimage of Dorothy Richardson explores the ways in which Richardson used such cultural forms as sexology, psychoanalysis, and other lesbian and modernist literature of her time to create an intertextual dialogue about lesbian identity. Winning suggests that a sustained reading of lesbian sexuality in Pilgrimage is crucial to a more complete understanding of Richardson’s long and sometimes difficult work.

In addition to providing readers with a thought-provoking analysis of Richardson’s life-work, The Pilgrimage of Dorothy Richardson further notes that it is necessary to look at Pilgrimage in the context of other works by female modernist writers that record lesbian identity. Doing so, Winning suggests, is the first step toward recognizing and defining a literary movement that can be termed “lesbian modernism,” as well as toward a deeper understanding of how lesbian modernist writers helped shape modernist literature as a whole.

Joanne Winning is lecturer in twentieth-century literature at the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University, London.

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Portrait of Dorothy Richardson with a blue hue

November 2000
LC: 00-009016 PR
288 pp.   6 x 9 __2 illus.
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-17030-1
Paper ISBN 978-0-299-17034-9

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