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Avalon Recovered: The Arthurian Legend in British women's writing, 1775-1845

Garner, Katie Louise 2012. Avalon Recovered: The Arthurian Legend in British women's writing, 1775-1845. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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While the popularity of the Arthurian myth among twentieth-century and contemporary women writers is well known, earlier female engagements with the legend have remained largely unexplored. By recovering a number of unexamined texts, this thesis aims to offer a more comprehensive account of the rise of British women writers’ interest in the Arthurian story between 1775 and 1845. Locating women’s engagements with Arthur in Gothic verse, travel writing, topographical poetry, and literary annuals, it argues that differences in the kinds of Arthurian texts available to women writers in the period led to the formation of a distinct female tradition in Arthurian writing. Works by Letitia Elizabeth Landon and Felicia Hemans are discussed alongside those by lesser-known writers such as Anne Bannerman, Anna Jane Vardill, and Louisa Stuart Costello. The initial chapter examines how Arthurian material was bowdlerised and recast for presentation to the female reader in the Romantic period. This provides the context for a new interpretation of various images of anxiety in early Arthurian texts by women as a symptom of their limited, or often second-hand, access to medieval Arthurian works. The following two chapters explore the prevalence of Arthurian material in women’s Gothic verse and travel writing respectively. The fourth chapter investigates the evolution of women’s responses to contemporary Arthurian scholarship, from the popular and satirical through to romance editions of their own. The final chapter turns to Arthurian poems by women in literary annuals, culminating in a comparison of women writers’ treatments of the Maid of Astolat tale and Tennyson’s own. Annual Arthuriana informs and anticipates many of the trends that come to dominate the Arthurian revival in the second half of the nineteenth century, which I identify in conclusion as the moment when the imaginative power of female Arthuriana becomes fully realised.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Additional Information: A printed copy of this thesis is available on request to Cardiff University staff and students and for inter-library loan. Please contact
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2018 14:46

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