Roomscape: Women Writers in the British Museum from George Eliot to Virginia Woolf

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This book examines the Reading Room of the British Museum using documentary, theoretical, historical, and literary source. Roomscape explores a specific site - the Reading Room of the British Museum - as a space of imaginative potential in relation to the emergence of modern women writers in Victorian and early 20th-century London. Drawing on archival materials, Roomscape is the first study to integrate documentary, historical, and literary sources to examine the significance of this space and its resources for women who wrote translations, poetry, and fiction. This book challenges an assessment of the Reading Room of the British Museum as a bastion of class and gender privilege, an image established by Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. Roomscape also questions the value of privacy and autonomy in constructions of female authorship. Rather than viewing reading and writing as solitary, Roomscape investigates the public, social, and spatial dimensions of literary production. The implications of this study reach into the current digital era and its transformations of practices of reading, writing, and archiving. Along with an appendix of notable readers at the British Museum from the last two centuries, the book contributes to scholarship on George Eliot, Amy Levy, Eleanor Marx, Clementina Black, Constance Black Garnett, Christina Rossetti, Mathilde Blind, and Virginia Woolf. It includes Appendix of Notable Readers at the British Museum from 1857-1930 (15 pp) as important resource for museum and library studies, and fresh material about translation work at the British Museum by Eleanor Marx (on Flaubert and Ibsen) and Constance Black Garnett (on Russian authors). It demonstrates the importance of library research for poets including Christina Rossetti, Mathilde Blind, and Amy Levy. It examines George Eliot's research at the British Museum for her historical novel Romola in relation to how this novel depicts reading, library collection, and gendered scholarship.. It offers a new reading of Virginia Woolf's researching in and writing about the British Museum and the London Library through her diaries, letters, and creative work. It includes a Coda that brings forward the story of the Round Reading Room from the mid-20th century, when A. S. Byatt, Isobel Armstrong, and Gillian Beer relied on this space in the early years of their careers, to the aftermath since the official closing in 1997 when the British Library moved to Euston Road. The fate of the Round Reading Room still hangs in the balance.

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Edinburgh University Press
Fecha de Publicación
Tapa blanda

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