This interdisciplinary volume explores the fictional portrayal of marriage by women novelists between 1800 and 1900. It investigates the ways in which these novelists used the cultural form of the novel to engage with and contribute to the wider debates of the period around the fundamental cultural and social building block of marriage. The collection provides an important contribution to the emerging scholarly interest in nineteenth-century marriage, gender studies, and domesticity, opening up new possibilities for uncovering submerged, marginalized, and alternative stories in Victorian literature. An initial chapter outlines the public discourses around marriage in the nineteenth century, the legal reforms that were achieved as a result of public pressure, and the ways in which these laws and economic concerns impacted on the marital relationship. It beds the collection down in current critical thinking and draws on life writing, journalism, and conduct books to widen our understanding of how women responded to the ideological and cultural construct of marriage. Further chapters examine a range of texts by lesser-known writers as well as canonical authors structured around a timeline of the major legal reforms that impacted on marriage. This structure provides a clear framework for the collection, locating it firmly within contemporary debate and foregrounding female voices. An afterword reflects back on the topic of marriage in the nineteenth- century and considers how the activism of the period influenced and shaped reform post-1900. This volume will make an important contribution to scholarship on Victorian Literature, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, and the Nineteenth Century.

chapter |17 pages

1 Introduction

The Lottery of Marriage
ByCarolyn Lambert

chapter 2|16 pages

Frances Trollope and the Picaresque Marriage

ByCarolyn Lambert

chapter 4|12 pages

‘Give me Sylvia, or else, I die’

Obsession and Revulsion in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Sylvia’s Lovers
ByMarion Shaw

chapter 6|11 pages

‘Could my hero tell lies?’

Romance and the Marriage Plot in Rhoda Broughton’s Cometh up as a Flower
ByCarolyn W. de la L. Oulton

chapter 7|18 pages

Mystical Nationalism and the Rotten Heart of Empire

The Tangled Trope of Marriage in Daniel Deronda
ByMeredith Miller

chapter 8|15 pages

Margaret Oliphant on Marriage and Its Discontents

ByJoanne Shattock

chapter 9|14 pages

Mrs Henry Wood’s Model Men

How to Mismanage Your Marriage in Court Netherleigh
ByTamara S. Wagner

chapter 10|12 pages

“[T]he laws themselves must be wicked and imperfect”

The Struggle for Divorce in Mary Eliza Haweis’s A Flame of Fire
ByLaura Allen

chapter 12|19 pages

Marriage in Matriarchy

Matrimony in Women’s Utopian Fiction 1888–1909
ByRebecca Styler

chapter 13|16 pages

Marriage in Women’s Short Fiction

ByVictoria Margree

chapter 14|13 pages

Marriage, the March of Time and Middlemarch

ByMarlene Tromp