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A 'base and spurious thing': Reading and Deceptive Femininity in Ellen Wood's Parkwater (1857)

Janice M. Allan

Abstract

Concentrating on Ellen Wood's Parkwater, a little-known New Monthly Magazine serial, this article attempts to complicate the long-standing construction of Wood as a 'quiet sensationalist'. It argues that Wood's serial was self-consciously appealing to the New Monthly's male readers and thus incorporated scenes and details of a surprisingly graphic nature. At the same time, the article situates the narrative within the context of a new commodity culture, as well as the 1857 murder trial of Madeleine Smith, suggesting that Wood's exploration of deceptive femininity resonates with current events in a particularly insistent manner.

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