Sarah Grand (1854-1943)

[var. 1862; pseud. of Frances Elizabeth (Bellenden) McFall, née Clarke]; b. Donaghadee, Co. Down; of English parents, her f. a RN lieutenant; sent to English boarding school at 14; eloped with thirty-nine year-old naval surgeon at sixteen; separated after publication of first novel and moved to London with child; gives sharp picture of shabby gentility in The Beth Book: A study in the Life of a Woman of Genius (1897), novel, sold 20,000 copies in the first week; m. at 16 Lt-Col. David McFall, an army surgeon who modelled for Dan Maclure in The Beth Book;
lived with him in Hong Kong and Far East, Norwich and Warrington (d. 1898, yrs. after separation); Ideala (1888), a preachy novel, afforded her enough to separate; The Heavenly Twins (1893) made her reputation, featuring syphilis; refused by George Meredith for Chapman and Hall, but taken nervously by Blackwood’s, it sold 20,000 and was reprinted 6 times in the year; another polemical novels are A Domestic Experiment (1891), a story of justified adultery; The Winged Victory (1916). President of Nat. Union of Suffrage Soc. at Tunbridge Wells; moved to Bath in 1920, and mayoress on 6 occasions. BL 11. ODNB SUTH NCBE KUN DUB OCIL

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  • [as anon.,] Ideals, A Study from Life (1889, 1893).
  • The Heavenly Twins, 3 vols. (London: Heinemann 1893), Do. [rep. 4th thousand] (Heinemann 1893); Do. [another edn.; Sixpenny Editions] London: Hodder & Stoughton 1901, 1912), 244pp.; Do. [in trans. as] De Hemelsche Tweelingen, 3 vols. (Haarlem 1895); Do. [microfiche.] (Michigan UP 1993), 679pp.
  • A Domestic Experiment (1891).
  • Singularly Deluded (London: [Heinemann] 1893).
  • Our Manifold Nature (Heinemann 1894), viii, 271pp. [stories].
  • Sarah Grand, Our Manifold Nature (1894) [short stories]; Do. [rep. edn.] (N.d.).
  • The Beth Book, Being A Study from the Life of Elizabeth Caldwell Maclure, a Woman of Genius (1897), (London: Heinemann [1897]); Do. [another edn.] (Toronto: Morang 1897); and Do. [rep. of 1st edn.], with intro. by Elaine Showalter (London: Virago Press 1980), xv, 527pp..
  • The Modern Man and Maid [10th thousand] (London: Horace Marshall & Son 1898).
  • The Human Quest, being some thoughts in contribution to the subject of the art of happiness (Heinemann 1900).
  • Babs the Impossible (London: Hutchinson 1901).
  • Emotional Moments (London: Hurst and Blackett 1906).
  • Adnan’s Orchard, a Prologue (Heinemann 1912), 640pp.
  • The Winged Victory (Heinemann 1916), x, 655pp.
  • Variety [Tales] (Heinemann 1922), 221pp.
  • [?] Bartholomew, As They Were, with a preface by Sarah Grand [1908].
  • Matilde B. B. Edwards, Mid Victorian Memories ... with a personal sketch by Mrs Sarah Grand (1919).
  • Ernst Foerster, Die Frauenfrage in den Romanen englische Schofstellerinnen[?] der Gegenwart [incl. Sarah Grand, &c.] (1907).
  • [short autobiography, with 33 others], in In The Days of My Youth, ed. & intro. by T. P. O’Connor (London 1901), ill. [16 photo ports].
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Elaine Showalter, A Literature of their Own (1984); also essay on The Beth Book by Tereda Mangum, in Nikki Lee Manos and Meri-Jane Rochelson, eds., Transforming Genres, New Approaches to British Fction of the 1890s (Macmillan 1995)

See also Patricia Coughlan & Tina O’Toole, eds., Irish Literature: Feminist Perspectives [IASIL Conf. 2004, Galway] (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2008); John Wilson Foster, Irish Novels 1890-1940: New Bearings in Culture and Fiction (Oxford: OUP 2008).

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Elaine Showalter, A Literature of their Own (1984), bio-note, b. Ireland, dg. officer; Church of England; ed. at home and school; m. at 16, husband d. in 1898; best known for The Heavenly Twins (1893); her name reflects sense of feminist mission (ibid, 29); she ‘parodied the masculine critical hegemony by describing a literary journal that she called The Patriarch (ibid, 31); following the death of George Eliot in 1880, literary women lacked a leader, a sought a new approach, “I see that the world is not a bit better for centuries of self-sacrifice on the woman’s part”, wrote Sarah Grand, matriach of the feminist novelists, “... and therefore I think it is time we had a more effectual plan.” (The Heavenly Twins, London 1894, p.80). About 1890 she left an unhapppy marriage to a much older man, and the memory of a deprived childhood in Ireland and Northern England, and created a new persona for herself in London ... Sarah Grand, the matriarch, the beautiful female prophet, was born. Further: She was an active member of the Suffragette movement, lecturing in America; by the end of the campaign, her own fame as a novelist and a cause celèbre was over; she died in poverty and disappointment. [...] Sarah Grand is mentioned in Amy Cruse, After the Victorians (London 1938); in G. B. Needham and R. P. Utter, Pamela’s Daughters (London 1937); Mark Twain was an admirer, his much annotated copy of Heavenly Twins being in the Berg Collection of the NY Public Library; G. B. Shaw linked her with Whistler, Ibsen, and Wagner as a misunderstood genius (GBS, letter to R. Golding Bright, 18 May 1894).

Elaine Showalter, Introdution to The Beth Book (London: Virago 1980,: ‘sustained critiques of such issues as marriage, the education of girls, the physical and social degradation of women, the rights of women to work, and the possible restructuring of society’; uses stream of consciousness technique.

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The Brawling Brotherhood consists of two sorts of men. First of all is he who is satisfied with the cow-kind of woman as being most convenient: it is the threat of any strike among his domestic cattle for more consideration that irritates him into loud and angry protests. The other sort of Brawling Brotherhood is he who is under the influence of the scum of our sex, who knows nothing better of woman of that class in and out of society, preys upon them or ruins himself for them, takes the whole tone from them, and judges us all by them. Both the cow woman and the scum woman are well within range of the comprehension of the Brawling Brotherhod, but the new woman is a little above him [...]’ (Quoted in Charles e. Prescott & Grace A. Giorgio, ‘Vampiric Affinities: Mina Harker and the Paradox of Feminity in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, in Victorian Literature and Culture, 33, Cambridge UP 2005, p.488; cited in Melissa Laverty, UUC UG Diss., 2009.)

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The Beth Book, being A Study from the Life of Elizabeth Caldwell Maclure, a Woman of Genius (1897), epigraphed from Shakespeare ‘yet I’ll speak’; Elizabeth neglected in favour of her brother; f. unfaithful, and dies from brain tumour; moves to Yorkshire with m.; poorly educated, she marries doctor, Dan Maguire [M’Clure?, see SUTH above], who is unfaithful with a patient at the Lock Hospital; he is also sadistic vivisectionist; leaves him to become novelist; meet American artist Arthur Brock; refuses to become decadent mod. writer’s mistress; speaks on women’s rights; mystically unites with Brock in harvest-time. ‘violently polemical ... thinly disguised autobiography’ [from SUTH, under Beth].

British Library holds Adnan’s Orchard, a Prologue (Heinemann 1912), 640pp.; Babs the Impossible (London: Hutchinson 1901); The Beth Book (London: Heinemann [1897]); another ed. (Toronto: Morang 1897); A Domestic Experiment (1891); Emotional Moments (London: Hurst and Blackett 1906); The Heavenly Twins, 3 vols. (London: Heinemann 1893); another ed. [Sixpenny Editions] (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1901, 912), 244pp.; 6d ed.; The Heavenly Twins [4th thousand] (London 1893); De Hemelsche Tweelingen, 3 vols. (Haarlem 1895); The Human Quest, being some thoughts in contribution to the subject of the art of happiness (Heinemann 1900); Ideals, A Study from Life [issued anonymously] (1889, 1893); The Modern Man and Maid [10th thousand] (London: Horace Marshall & Son 1898); Our Manifold Nature (Heinemann 1894), viii, 271pp, stories; Singularly Deluded (London: [Heinemann] 1893), novel; Variety [Tales] (Heinemann 1922), 221pp.; The Winged Victory (Heinemann 1916), x, 655pp.; also Bartholomew, As They Were, pref. Grand [1908]; see Matilde B. B. Edwards, Mid Victorian Memories ... with a personal sketch by Mrs Sarah Grand (1919); see Ernst Foerster, Die Frauenfrage in den Romanen englische Schofstellerinnen[?] der Gegenwart [incl. Sarah Grand, &c.] (1907).

John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Harlow: Longmans 1988); most interesting of novelists engaging with the political issues of the new woman; The Heavenly Twins (1893), loosely connected exemplary tales of marriage; Evadne Frayling marries Colonel George Colquhoun, who has a disreputable past; her parents demand she gives in to convention, but she rebels; she married the Dr. Galabriath who treats her after her attempted suicide. Eithe Beale, a bishop’s dg., marres Sir Mosley Menteith, who has syphilis; delivers a syphilitic child, and dies. Angelica Hamilton-Wells is twin to the boy Diavolo; marrying, she makes up for the inequality of their upbringing by dressing as a man; cultivates the friendship of a singer, who saves her from drowning; at his death she returns to her husband. Sold 40,000 [cf. 20,000, supra] in weeks probably due to frank treatment of syphilis theme.

John Sutherland, in ‘New Woman Fiction’ [Victorian Fiction, p.460), associates her with Egerton and “IOTA” (Kathleen Caffyn), as one of the leading exponents of the genre.

University of Ulster Library holds Gillian Kersley, Darling Madame, Sarah Grand and Devoted Friend (Virago 1983). See Territories of the Voice, ed. with pref., Louise de Salvo, et al. (Virago 1990)

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The Heavenly Twins (1893): the twins of the title are Angelical and Diavolo illustrating the false division of sex roles. The second half of the novel deals with the young brides Edith[?] and Evadne, representing the Old and the New Woman, respectively steeped in religion and Millsian science; Edith is courted by Sir Mosley Metheith, a naval officer with syphilis contracted on the HMS Abomination; Evadne refuses to consummate her marriage on discovering that her husband has been unfaithful; Grand subverts the marital conventions and sexual archetypes by taking them literally; he finds other outlets, she sickens from frustration and blocked maternal drives; saved from death by her husband, but uses her freedom to marry again. [Q. source.]

The Beth Book (1898) describes Beth’s childhood in Ireland in an atmosphere saturated in sexuality and violence. Her father, an alcoholic Navy captain, is alternately affectionate and abusive; her mother chronically depressed by his infidelities; the Irish nurses come from squalid communities rife with incest and illegitimacy. beth contracts a disasterous marriage to a doctor in a Lock Hospital, a vivisectionist who spends her money and brings his mistresses to live in the house. She has chosen to repeat the nightmare of her childhood. Goes beyond Evade in ultimately freeing herself from marriage completely, but liberation is accomplished through a female fantasy. Her freedom if symbolised by her discovery of a secret room in which she can become herself, and begin to write “for women, not for men.” Her book is well reviewed in the Patriarch - an invented male-journal [Showalter, A Literature of their Own (1984), pp.104-10.]

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