The early novels of Elinor Glyn (1864–1943) were very well received for their ‘originality, wit and high spirits’. They were written at the turn of the century when Glyn was in her early 30s in order to solve financial problems and they are acutely observed accounts of the late Victorian and Edwardian marriage market. She contrasts British high society with continental arrangements to manage wives and mistresses and in doing so tentatively begins to explore the place of sexuality within marriage or more significantly the prospect of extramarital liaisons as young brides become mature women. Biographical accounts of Glyn’s career emphasise the surprise and hurt she felt at the response from the press and society acquaintances to Three Weeks (1907) when it was published. Whereas her other novels were seen as humorous and daring, this is the novel that overstepped the mark. Three Weeks became notorious because its focus is not society manners or pre-nuptial morality, but an adulterous affair that is treated sympathetically, almost reverentially by the authoress. Even more controversially, it is an older woman who seduces a younger man, with the intention of conceiving a child. The gender relations regarding class, culture, money, initiative, status, and more specifically power are unequivocally reversed and celebrated in the expression of a mature woman’s sexual pleasure.
Methodologies and Practicalities
In this article I examine the potential of the Femorabilia Collection of Women’s and Girls’ Twentieth Century Periodicals for the study of girlhood in Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations and I explain why the collection was originally created and describe its current purpose and policy to promote future research. I consider the importance of material and reading cultures as well as approaches to understanding the content of these varied publications and discuss the difficulties of working with mass culture, ephemeral texts, and the problem of obtaining examples, and I consider the collection’s particular focus on popular fiction. I consider the development of the collection, examples of methodology and practice, and its use in pedagogy, research, and public engagement.
Heike Bauer, Ann Heilmann, Emma Liggins, Angelica Michelis, Nickianne Moody and Chris White
Notes on contributors