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Elaine Showalter and English Showalter: The first black female novelist?, 18 August 2005

In Search of Hannah CraftsCritical Essays on ‘The Bondwoman’s Narrative’ 
edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Hollis Robbins.
Basic Books, 458 pp., £17.50, January 2005, 0 465 02708 3
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... earliest known novel by a black woman anywhere’. According to the article, the novel, signed by Hannah Crafts and called ‘The Bondwoman’s Narrative’, was the story of a woman’s life as a house slave on the North Carolina plantation of John Hill Wheeler, her escape to New Jersey in 1857, and her composition of an autobiographical fiction ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative, 8 August 2002

The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... notice that Jane’s sewing box is bigger than her writing box. It may have been the same with Hannah Crafts. Where had this manuscript been? Its early adventures are uncertain. Before 1948 it seems to have been in an attic in New Jersey. Then it was bought by the black historian and bibliographer Dorothy Porter Wesley; after her death, it came to ...

‘We would rather eat our cake than merely have it’

Rosemary Hill: Victorian men and women, 4 October 2001

A Circle of Sisters: Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynter and Louisa Baldwin 
by Judith Flanders.
Penguin, 392 pp., £17.99, September 2001, 0 670 88673 4
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The Hated Wife: Carrie Kipling 1862-1939 
by Adam Nicolson.
Short Books, 96 pp., £4.99, May 2001, 0 571 20835 5
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Victorian Diaries: The Daily Lives of Victorian Men and Women 
edited by Heather Creaton.
Mitchell Beazley, 144 pp., £14.99, February 2001, 1 84000 359 6
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... London. Flanders is good on the domestic implications of this and much else. It was their mother, Hannah, who bore the brunt of the struggle on a tiny income, the laborious process of moving, the new starts in strange houses, most of them undertaken in the course of one of her 11 pregnancies. The intellectually vigorous, self-improving culture of the ...

Spurious, Glorious

Lavinia Greenlaw: Three Long Poems, 13 September 2018

Three Poems 
by Hannah Sullivan.
Faber, 73 pp., £10.99, January 2018, 978 0 571 33767 5
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... We expect more of it and less of ourselves, adjusting our pace and investing in the big picture. Hannah Sullivan’s majestic debut offers three big pictures – birth, coming of age and death – but this isn’t a triptych. Instead, these themes extend across the book, with the poems acting as a set of transparencies that enlarge and complicate one ...

Toxic Lozenges

Jenny Diski: Arsenic, 8 July 2010

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work and Play 
by James Whorton.
Oxford, 412 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 19 957470 4
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... least some of her 14 children – ‘most of whom died suddenly’. May, in her turn, had taught Hannah Ham (the names chime gay as nursery rhymes and Dr Seuss) how to kill her husband with arsenic. Local women talked of ‘white powdering’ their husbands and children, ‘seasoning a pie’ or ‘giving them a dose’. People said that there were women’s ...

Like a Manta Ray

Jenny Turner: The Entire History of Sex, 22 October 2015

The Argonauts 
by Maggie Nelson.
Graywolf, 143 pp., £23, May 2015, 978 1 55597 707 8
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... Myles – Nelson finds her artistic focus drawn in two main directions. On the one hand, she crafts her words until she gets them to ‘facet’ as accurately as she can: ‘How to explain that for some, or for some at some times, this irresolution is OK – desirable even … whereas for others, or for others at some times, it stays a source of conflict ...

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