AbstractAs author of the 1861 bestseller, East Lynne, Ellen Wood forged a successful literary career as a prolific writer of sensation fiction and celebrity-editor of The Argosy magazine. While this project will examine the construction and maintenance, of her most famous persona, the pious, conservative ‘Mrs Henry Wood’, an equal focus is afforded to the other literary identities under which Wood operated during her illustrious career. Although recent scholars have considered the business-like tenacity of Wood as a commercially driven writer in contrast to the fragile, conservative ‘Mrs Henry Wood’ persona, this dissertation integrates the identities forged in the early anonymous writings in periodicals and publications made under male pseudonyms with these contrasting representations to procure a comprehensive view of the literary identities adopted by Wood. Situating Wood in the context of her contemporaries, the role of the female writer in the mid-nineteenth-century is primarily outlined to inform Wood’s development of anonymous identities as a periodical writer through the semi-anonymous signature in contributions during the 1850s which foregrounded the ‘Mrs Henry Wood’ persona. The reputation of Wood’s most famous professional identity and recent challenges by critcis to that carefully devised image, are outlined through examination of the construction, conservation, and contradictions of Wood’s most profitable trademark, ‘Mrs. Henry Wood’. Finally, the inclusion of masculine identities provides a contrasting insight into Wood’s writings, including the relatively unsuccessful boys stories hampered by the ‘Mrs. Henry Wood’ reputation, alongside her successful male pseudonyms ‘Ensign Pepper’ and ‘Johnny Ludlow’. The consideration of the under studied professional identities adopted by Wood, alongside the famous ‘Mrs. Henry Wood’ literary persona, develops a comprehensive perception of the astute, tenacious businesswoman who deliberately crafted a popular yet respectable role in a saturated literary market.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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