Julia Kavanagh In Her Times: Novelist And Biographer, 1824-1877.

Forsyth, Michael (1999). Julia Kavanagh In Her Times: Novelist And Biographer, 1824-1877. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00004981


This study seeks to identify the contribution of Julia Kavanagh within early and mid-Victorian literature and as a contributor to the concept of the contribution of a women's tradition to the developemnt of French and English arts and culture. It examines her progress as a popular novelist to changing tastes during her working career and her reputation among her contemporaries, including the niche she created for novels with a French background, based on her early life in, and later return to France. Her principal non-fiction works Woman In France in the 18th Century, Women of Christianity and French and English Women of Letters are considered as evidence of a developing thesis on the contribution of a distinct female contribution in these areas, with some discussion on the relationship between these ideas and Kavanagh's practice as a novelist.

Four of Kavanagh's novels are discussed in detail; Madeleine (1848) and Rachel Gray (1856) are atypical and demonstrate a more personal interest in the lives of poor single women, and reflect the author's strong Catholic faith; Nathalie (1850) and Adèle (1858) on the other hand, demonstrate the impact and influence of Brontë's Jane Eyre on Kavanagh's output. The study seeks to identify the influence on Kavanagh's work of her French upbringing, and particularly of the abandonment of herself and her blind mother by her father, leaving Kavanagh to support them by her writings, with particular reference to Rachel Gray. The study also includes a close study of a portion of Adèle, and a review of characteristic themes in Kavanagh's fiction and non-fiction. The bibliography of Kavanagh's works is the most complete to date

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