chapter  2
26 Pages

Masters Abroad

This chapter explores social expectations imposed upon nineteenth-century middle-class women, being intellectually imprisoned remained a very real threat as educated women faced the conflict between the domestic and public worlds. Unlike the translator veiled by the original author, through teaching, journalism and fiction writing these women created roles for themselves that were no more mediated by employers, editors and reviewers than those of their male counterparts. Eliot and Martineau were very well-known figures amongst literary circles in London and interest in their writings was extensive, although Martineau was more forthcoming with her identity than Eliot. Martineau, Eliot and Bront went further, though, by overtly becoming professional translators, writers and social commentators who were clearly aware of, and involved in, the business of writing. Their writings never cease to betray a conflict between female intellectual ambition and dominant prescriptions for woman's role and function, prescriptions which dictated that female intellect should be placed in the service of male-dominated systems of discourse.