Feminism, Nationalism, Separatism? The Case of Alice Stopford Green

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Alice Stopford Green, widow of proto-social and Teutonic nationalist historian J.R. Green, who went on to become an Irish nationalist historian and campaigner, complicates our view of fin-de-siècle women writers. Surprisingly for an amateur historian in an age of professionalization, she took a consciously separatist position, privileging the particular over the general, and defining her writing as both female and Irish.

This article focuses on Stopford Green's 1915 epilogue to her husband's Short History of the English People (1874), and her startlingly anguished periodical article of 1897 from Nineteenth Century, to demonstrate a separatism both bold and self-aware.‘Woman's Place in the World of Letters’ (1897) prefigures Cixous in its call for an écriture feminine. It views women as utterly alien to the established order of this world. Stopford Green at once acquiesces with female essentialisation – ‘woman’ comes in the singular – and undermines it by insisting that woman's true nature is almost never seen. In the ‘Epilogue’ (1915), which updates her husband's narrative to her war-torn present, Stopford Green voices jingoistic rhetoric, but employs unobtrusive asides to distance herself from these calls to imperialism. Through such surreptitious means, she uses her late-husband's popular textbook as the conduit of subversive ideas, both voicing and subverting his English nationalism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Victorian Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2014

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