edited with an introduction & notes by Lise Shapiro Sanders
“He married you under false pretences, as false as they would have been if he had had another wife living at the time.”
Reminiscent of the Brontës’ Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s Janet Doncaster chronicles a young woman’s struggle for independence. With no fortune, no family to support her, and no practical skills enabling her to earn a living, Janet is lured into an unwanted marriage and must confront an uncertain future.
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929), known today for her leadership of the British constitutional suffrage movement, distinguished herself initially as an author of works on political economy and women’s rights. Her only novel, first published in 1875, explores the politics of marriage and domesticity at a time when middle-class women were actively challenging the sexual double standard in the realms of law, education, work, and family. Janet Doncaster anticipates the concerns of the New Woman novel, combining Fawcett’s astute political insight with a compelling tale of fidelity, betrayal, and self-determination.
This new edition includes:
- critical introduction by Lise Shapiro Sanders
- explanatory notes
- select bibliography
- chronology of Millicent Garrett Fawcett
Along with extensive additional contextual material, including:
- selected writings by Millicent Garrett Fawcett and other early feminist activists
- contemporaneous accounts of efforts to reform the laws affecting marriage, divorce, and women’s property
- Victorian writings on liberalism, political economy, and temperance
- reviews of the novel from the period.
Lise Shapiro Sanders is Associate Professor of English Literature and Cultural Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is the author of Consuming Fantasies: Labor, Leisure, and the London Shopgirl, 1880-1920 and, with Amy Bingaman and Rebecca Zorach, co-editor of Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis. Her articles have appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Women’s History Review, and several edited collections. She is presently at work on a book on women’s popular culture in the 1920s.