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Writers, Readers, and ReputationsLiterary Life in Britain 1870-1918$
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Philip Waller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.001.0001

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The Campaign Trail

The Campaign Trail

Chapter:
(p.845) 24 The Campaign Trail
Source:
Writers, Readers, and Reputations
Author(s):

Philip Waller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.003.0024

This chapter looks at how fiction-writers advanced different causes and reforms, both within their stories and outside in newspaper and magazine articles and, by joining public campaigns. Authors ranged on both sides of arguments about the right role of women: female suffrage, constitutionalism or militancy, marriage and divorce law, and other feminist and New Women concerns. Writers whose attitudes are examined in this regard include Grant Allen, Mona Caird, Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy, Sarah Grand, Laurence Housman, R. C. Lehmann, Eliza Lynn Linton, John Masefield, George Meredith, Henry Nevinson, Elizabeth Robins, H. G. Wells, and Israel Zangwill. The last was also an active Zionist. A previous generation had seen Dickens, Charles Kingsley, and Thomas Hughes involve themselves in numerous public causes; and Thackeray and Trollope both stood for Parliament. Bulwer Lytton and, above all, Disraeli even combined high political office with continued novel-writing; but many otherwise less prominent writers could now point to a conspicuous record of good works, as was the case of Walter Besant who inspired the People's Palace in East London. The propriety of writers using their fiction as a vehicle for reform was debated — whether it was an abuse of art — but writers' increased public standing meant that they were frequently approached to lend their names to this and that cause. The chapter ends by focusing on the elderly George Meredith's activities, which included advocating military service and conscription.

Keywords:   female suffrage, new Women, people's Palace, military service, conscription

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