The controversial subject matter of Grant Allen’s novel, The Woman Who Did, made it a major bestseller in 1895. It tells the story of Herminia Barton, a university-educated New Woman who, because of her belief that marriage oppresses women, refuses to marry her lover even though she shares his bed and bears his child. Her ideals come into disastrous conflict with intensely patriarchal late Victorian England. Indeed, Allen intended his novel to shock readers into a serious exploration of some of the major issues in fin de siècle sexual politics, issues that he himself, in various periodical articles under the rubric of the “Woman Question,” had played a leading role in opening up to public debate.
This Broadview edition contains a critical introduction as well as a rich selection of appendices which include excerpts from Allen’s writings on women, sex, and marriage; contemporary writings on the “Sex Problem”; documents pertaining to the Marriage Debate; contemporary responses to the novel; and excerpts from two parodies of the novel.
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