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The Awkward Age in Women's Popular Fiction, 1850-1900Girls and the Transition to Womanhood$
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Sarah Bilston

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199272617

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199272617.001.0001

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‘At the very turn of life’ in 1860s Fiction

‘At the very turn of life’ in 1860s Fiction

Chapter:
(p.61) 2 ‘At the very turn of life’ in 1860s Fiction
Source:
The Awkward Age in Women's Popular Fiction, 1850-1900
Author(s):

SARAH BILSTON

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199272617.003.0003

This chapter investigates questions of a woman's identity. It examines a series of 1860s novels that represent young heroines in the process of thinking through — and gradually testing out — what kind of women they would like to become. It begins by presenting fictions that shadow a heroine's frenzied transitional stage with a narrative of obscured or mistaken identity. It then focuses on the place (and displacement) of marriage in romance texts' explorations of identity acquisition. It identifies the patterns women novelists themselves made to articulate the complicated process, for a young mid-Victorian woman, of acquiring a sense of herself as adult.

Keywords:   identity acquisition, transitional stage, mid-Victorian, romance, marriage, women novelists

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