The Victorian Age is an age when women – many women – establish themselves as professional writers. Certainly, there were many women who blazed a trail for them (Francis Burney, Jane Austen, Eliza Haywood to name a few); however, the Victorian age is when women come to dominate the literary marketplace. Marie Corelli was the world’s first bestselling author with 100,000 copies of The Sorrows of Satan selling in 1895. Vernon Lee, a self-trained critic, scholar, and fiction writer held her own as an aesthete with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Walter Pater. Mary Elizabeth Braddon became one of the world’s most prolific authors writing at least 85 novels in her lifetime while editing Belgravia and raising 11 children (only 5 of which were hers). You may not have heard of many of these women because too many of them were excluded from the traditional canon of literary greats. While George Eliot was eventually accepted into the canon, some women still struggle to find a place.
To the left is a picture of one of my favorites: Amy Levy. Poet and novelist, she committed suicide in the 1880s. She had a suicide pact with Olive Schreiner but only Ms. Levy went through with it (I wonder how Schreiner felt when she found out?). Amy wrote heart wrenching poetry like “Xantippe” and “To Vernon Lee” indicating both feminist leanings (she was a new woman and one of the first women to attend College in the whole of England and a profoundly creative mind. Her novels Romance of a Shop and Reuben Sachs. Exploring both her Jewish heritiage and seemingly lesbian desires, she was well reviewed by critics such as Oscar Wilde and other contemporaries. Having lived a tragically short life, Amy Levy is a model for the tortured artists we romanticise from the 20th century.
Please explore this website. There are numerous works downloaded and the creators have recommitted to the upkeep and updating of the project. Support the site because many of these works are not available anywhere else. Help to preserve, celebrate, and READ the works of trailblazing Victorian women writers.