In his new study of Anne Boleyn, George Bernard at no point defines the ‘fatal attractions’ to which his title refers. There is not even an assurance that no rabbits were harmed in the making of the book. Perhaps the title is deliberately polysemous, for we might think of at least six fatal, or metaphorically fatal, attractions exercised by the queen.
In 1886 the Glasgow Prayer Union (GPU) remembered in their customary prayers a woman across whom one of its ‘ladies’ had come. She had been ‘found lying very drunk near Cattle Market with young infant’. Concerned for the infant’s life, the unnamed philanthropist (not a word Smitley uses) takes the child to the nearby police station, ‘where the woman was also taken’ (p. 44).
Chocolate, writes Emma Robertson in the introduction to her monograph, ‘has been invested with specific cultural meanings which are in part connected to … conditions of production’ (p. 3). At the heart of this study is a challenge to existing histories:
The poor Victorians, they’ve been constantly rebuked for their sexual repression by daring rebels. Somehow, these rebels became the archetypes of Victorian culture – such as the beloved Pre-Raphaelites.
‘I am what you would call a Fallen Woman, but I assure you I did not fall – I was pushed’ (Faber, p. 336).
Amanda E. Herbert’s fresh and important study of women’s alliances in early modern Britain opens with a quotation from Mary Evelyn listing the duties of elite women in the late 17th century. Reading as follows: ‘the care of children’s education, observing a husband’s commands, assisting the sick, relieving the poor, and being serviceable to our friends’ (p. 1).
Both the problematic discourses of ‘professional/amateur’ and ‘public/private spheres’, and also the multifaceted hierarchies between the fine and the applied arts, have received substantial academic enquiry in the last thirty years. This is particularly true for the art historians researching the cultural activities of middle-class women in 19th-century Britain.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Jordan Landes talks to Amanda Herbert about her new book, Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain.
Amanda Herbert is assistant professor of history at Christopher Newport University.
Susan Doran is an established, well-respected Elizabethan historian, and her most recent book confirms that she can successfully analyze Elizabeth in ways accessible and interesting to both an academic audience and a popular one.
The age of lesbian and gay, in which those were the dominant terms for homoeroticism and other things that seemed (sometimes arbitrarily) to be related to it, appears to be over.