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Suffragist Artists in PartnershipGender, Word and Image$
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Lucy Ella Rose

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421454

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421454.001.0001

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Feminist Readings and Poetic Paintings

Feminist Readings and Poetic Paintings

(p.185) Chapter 6 Feminist Readings and Poetic Paintings
Suffragist Artists in Partnership

Lucy Ella Rose

Edinburgh University Press

Chapters 6 and 7 are linked in their exploration of artists’ readings, literary sources and subjects, and in their focus on paintings of women and water: from the drowned ‘fallen woman’ in George’s work to the empowered mermaids in Evelyn’s work. Chapter 6 explores the Wattses’ private library, their conjugal reading practice, and Mary’s engagement with contemporary feminist writers and writings, before discussing George’s series of female-focused social-realist paintings inspired by poetry, in order to show how the couple engaged with, were inspired by, and contributed to early feminist literary and visual culture. It focuses specifically on Mary Watts’s readings of early feminist writings and on George Watts’s paintings provoked by articles and contemporary debates on ‘fallen women’, female suicide and the exploitation of women. The author aims to show how the Wattses were influenced by writers engaging with issues at the heart of Victorian feminism, and to reveal Mary’s interactions with writers of New Woman fiction. This further reveals the Wattses’ progressive socio-political positions, and especially Mary’s keen – if largely private – interest in early feminist writing and culture during her marital years, to which she more actively contributed in widowhood.

Keywords:   Poetry, painting, fallen woman, library, reading, ‘niche’, Olive Schreiner, George Meredith, social-realist, drowned

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