‘What is the awkward age?’1
This chapter begins by citing some definitions of the ‘awkward age’ as stated by various writers from 1850-1900. It then explains how difficult it was to define the awkward age in an era before theories of adolescence gave maturation a recognizable trajectory and a descriptive vocabulary. It discusses Carol Dyhouse's assumptions and definition of women's awkward age, regarded as the standard point of reference on the history of Victorian and Edwardian girlhood. It then challenges Dyhouse's assumptions by presenting that Victorian writers commonly acknowledged the existence of an awkward age, a developmental interval between childhood and womanhood, and that women's population fictions regularly represented the stage as a phase of relative ‘liberty and choice’. It also explains how girls who are at the transition stage are represented.
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