The Woman Who Did

The Woman Who Did

"The Woman Who Did" (1895) is a novel by Grant Allen about a young, self-assured middle-class woman who defies convention as a matter of principle and who is fully prepared to suffer the consequences of her actions. It was first published in London by John Lane in a series intended to promote the ideal of the "New Woman". Allen was sympathetic to the feminist cause and saw his novel as a means to propagate women's rights. However, the novel was controversial right from the start, with conservative readers as well as feminists criticizing Allen for the heroine he had invented. For example, Victoria Crosse wrote her novel "The Woman Who Didn't" (1895) as a response to Allen's book.

Plot summary

Herminia Barton, the Cambridge-educated daughter of a clergyman, frees herself from her parents' influence, moves to London and starts living alone. As she is not a woman of independent means, she starts working as a teacher. When she meets and falls in love with Alan Merrick, a lawyer, she suggests they live together without getting married. Reluctantly, he agrees, and the couple move to Italy. There, in Florence, Merrick dies of typhoid before their daughter Dolores is born. Legal technicalities and the fact that the couple were not married prevent Herminia from inheriting any of Merrick's money.

Dreaming of being a role model for Dolores and her friends, Herminia returns to England and raises her daughter as a single mother. She wants to show the younger generation that even as a woman there is something one can do about the unfair position of women in society -- a small step maybe, but with more and larger steps to follow soon. However, Dolores turns out to be ashamed of her mother's unmarried state and gradually turns against her. Eventually, Herminia chooses to make a huge sacrifice for her daughter's benefit and commits suicide.

Whereas Herminia Barton questions the institution of marriage by refusing to get married herself, Victoria Crosse's heroine Eurydice Williamson -- "the woman who didn't" -- remains faithful to her impossible husband although, during a passage from India, she meets a man who falls in love with her.

Read on

The motif of the ungrateful child has been frequently treated, notably by James M. Cain in "Mildred Pierce" and by Arthur Schnitzler in his novel "Therese".

External links

* [ The full text of "The Woman Who Did" online]
* [ "The Woman Who Wouldn't Do"] , a parody first published in "Punch" No.108 (March 30, 1895) 153.

:Note: "She-Note Series" is an allusion to John Lane's "Keynote Series" in which "The Woman Who Did" was published.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The King Who Would Be Stronger Than Fate — is an Indian fairy tale, included by Andrew Lang in The Brown Fairy Book .ynopsisA king with a daughter once was lost while hunting and met a hermit, who prophesied that his daughter would marry a slave woman s son, who belonged to the king of… …   Wikipedia

  • The Child who came from an Egg — or The Egg Born Princess is an Estonian fairy tale, collected by Dr. Friedrich Kreutzwald in Eestirahwa Ennemuistesed jutud . W. F. Kirby included a synopsis of it in The Hero of Esthonia as The Egg Born Princess. Andrew Lang included it as The… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance — Theatrical release poster Directed by John Ford …   Wikipedia

  • The Prince Who Wanted to See the World — is a Portuguese fairy tale. Andrew Lang included it in The Violet Fairy Book .ynopsisA king s only son wanted to see the world and was so persistent that his father let him go. He played cards with a stranger and lost all his money; then the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Boy Who Found Fear At Last — is a Turkish fairy tale collected by Ignaz Kunos in Türkische Volksmärchen . Andrew Lang included it in The Olive Fairy Book ynopsisA woman had an only son. During a storm, she told him to shut the door because she felt frightened. He asked her… …   Wikipedia

  • The King who would have a Beautiful Wife — or The King Who Wanted a Beautiful Wife is an Italian fairy tale collected by Laura Gonzenbach in Sicilianische Märchen . Thomas Crane included in his Italian Popular Tales , [Thomas Crane, Italian Popular Tales ,… …   Wikipedia

  • The King who Wished to Marry His Daughter — is a Scottish fairy tale collected by John Francis Campbell in Popular Tales of the West Highlands , listing his informant as Ann Darroch from Islay. [John Francis Campbell, Popular Tales of the West Highlands , [http://www.sacred… …   Wikipedia

  • The Guess Who — Not to be confused with The Who. The Guess Who The Guess Who, 2008 Background information Also known as The Silvertones The Reflections Chad Allan and th …   Wikipedia

  • The Woman in Limbo — Infobox Television episode Title = The Woman in Limbo Caption= A facial reconstruction of the unidentified body. Series = Bones Season = 1 Episode = 22 Guests= Loren Dean as Russ Brennan, Coby Ryan McLaughlin as David Simmons, Pat Skipper as… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man Who Cried — Infobox Film name = The Man Who Cried caption = Theatrical release poster director = Sally Potter producer = Simona Benzakein Christopher Sheppard writer = Sally Potter starring = Christina Ricci Cate Blanchett Johnny Depp music = Osvaldo Golijov …   Wikipedia