The Narratives of Caroline Norton

Hardcover | March 15, 2009

byRandall Craig

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A prolific author of poetry and fiction, as well as a polemicist for reform of laws pertaining to married women, Caroline Norton inspired fictional portraits by Thackeray, Disraeli, Meredith, and her legal woes led to parodies by Dickens and Gilbert. The Narratives of Caroline Norton analyzes the writings of the controversial Victorian feminist in the context of the dominant social narratives of her day. This insightful study considers Norton’s work from the early silver fork writing to the late sensation novels, studies both her serious and satiric narratives, and considers her polemical pamphlets. Throughout, Randall Craig adeptly uses Norton’s stories in their literary and non-literary contexts to explicate the ways in which Victorian women were both defined and confined.

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A prolific author of poetry and fiction, as well as a polemicist for reform of laws pertaining to married women, Caroline Norton inspired fictional portraits by Thackeray, Disraeli, Meredith, and her legal woes led to parodies by Dickens and Gilbert. The Narratives of Caroline Norton analyzes the writings of the controversial Victorian...

Randall Craig is Professor of English at the University at Albany, SUNY. His previous publications include The Tragicomic Novel (Delaware, 1989) and Promising Language: Betrothal in Victorian Law and Fiction (SUNY, 2000).

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:268 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 inPublished:March 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230612172

ISBN - 13:9780230612174

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"The Narratives of Caroline Norton offers abundant cues about work waiting to be done, and Craig deserves the attention and thanks of young scholars attracted to Victorian literary and cultural studies."--Victorian Studies “Positioned by her life and writings at the crossroads of gender and authorship, of soirées and politics, of scandal and legal reform, Caroline Norton has suffered historically from the same partial accounts of her work and its importance as she did during her lifetime…In this subtle analysis of an individual life and a culture, Craig deftly interweaves the many literary, legal and political narratives about Norton with those she herself produced to reveal what he terms the ‘equivocal visibility’ of women who insist that their apparently private grievances are, in fact, a matter of public concern. This book is an important addition to our understanding both of the particular Victorian nature of Norton’s story and of the significance of gender in authorship, politics and law.”--Susan Sage Heinzelman, Associate Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies, University of Texas“Craig provides the first complete critical account of Norton as a writer and public figure, and makes a convincing argument for her central role in Victorian literary, political, and social history. Drawing on a broad array of sources and his expert and wide-ranging knowledge of the Victorian novel, Craig impressively excavates the gendered narratives that constrained and controlled Victorian women such as Norton. Particularly compelling is Craig's nuanced reading of how English law silenced Norton in her husband's adultery suit against the Prime Minister, and of the comic trope of acceptable male philandering by which counsel for the defense won a verdict for his client at Norton's expense. In demonstrating how Norton refashioned these and other gendered narratives into an indictment of women's victimization by English law, Craig reclaims Norton as a pioneering Victorian feminist, novelist, and political activist.”--Sarah Abramowicz, Assistant Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School"This book should be required reading for any student . . . of works such as Anne Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which hinges on the legal invisibility of married women in the first half of the 19th century, and for anyone interested in the emerging legal status of women in 19th-century England. Summing Up: Essential. All readers."--Choice