The feminist orientation in Edith Nesbit's gothic short fiction

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For a long time critically neglected or disparaged, Edith Nesbit’s Gothic fiction is beginning to receive the scholarly attention it deserves. This essay extends analysis beyond the much-anthologised “Man-Size in Marble” to argue that a feminist orientation is in evidence more widely in her works of supernatural short fiction. A preoccupation with gender is discernible in several stories that offer distinct gender critiques, and in further tales through imagery of the dead female body and the female revenant, as well as through the recurrent character motifs of the female Cassandra and the male Frankenstein. The essay also argues that the anti-vivisectionism of several stories is an aspect of this feminist orientation. The article recognises Nesbit as being a problematic figure for scholarly attempts to reclaim feminist authors, since she herself evinced ambivalence about the women’s movement and the New Woman, but argues that the unleashing of Nesbit’s most counter-hegemonic impulses in her Gothic writings points to the political significance of this generic form, making Nesbit a figure of substantial interest for scholars working on women’s supernatural fiction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-443
Number of pages19
JournalWomen's Writing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Women's Writing 2014, available online:


  • Gothic
  • ghost story
  • short story
  • women's writing
  • feminism
  • anti-feminism
  • New woman
  • Victorian literature
  • Edwardian literature
  • vivisection


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