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Literary Sensations: Victorian Women Writers and Celebrity Culture


This dissertation analyzes the role of celebrity in determining the lives and literary productions of bestselling female authors in the nineteenth century. It identifies celebritydom as a compelling factor in a woman author's development of her literary persona, which affects both her public identity and the literature she produces in accord with that identity. By focusing on Dinah Mulock Craik, Florence Marryat, Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé), and Edna Lyall (Ada Ellen Bayly) "Literary Sensations" considers how star status confers new opportunities and new challenges for women writers in the publicity spotlight. Examining works of published and unpublished fiction, essays, memoir, and stage entertainment alongside contemporary periodical reviews, personal interest stories, gossip, interviews, and author images, I explore how Victorian women writers come to view themselves as celebrities who both shape and are shaped by the various engagements with their publics. My project pays special attention to Craik, Marryat, Ouida, and Lyall to facilitate the larger argument that as celebrity authors women writers embodied a new position in public life in the Victorian period, with the ability to affect theirs and others' domestic and political existence augmented by innovations in journalism and print and media technology.

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