Personal highlights from our Women’s History list (no.3)

March is Women’s History month, and in celebration we are publishing a series of blog posts highlighting some of our favourite Ashgate Women’s History books (we’re very proud of our Women’s History publishing!).

The third pick comes from Maureen Lazenby, Marketing Assistant in Ashgate’s UK office. Maureen has chosen Colleen Denney’s book Women, Portraiture and the Crisis of Identity in Victorian England.

How often the portrait shows the smooth, expected, public face – and how often these swans were paddling furiously against the current, and gaining on it.

About the book: 

Exploring the concept of portrait as memoir, Women, Portraiture and the Crisis of Identity in Victorian England examines the images and lives of four prominent Victorian women who steered their way through scandal to forge unique identities. The book shows the effect of celebrity, and even notoriety, on the lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Dilke, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and Sarah Grand.

For these women, their portraits were more than speaking likenesses-whether painted or photographic, they became crucial tools the women used to negotiate their controversial identities. Colleen Denney shows that the fascinating power of celebrity – and specifically its effects on women – was as much of a phenomenon in Victorian times as it is today.

About the Author: Colleen Denney is a Professor of Art History in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Wyoming, where she also holds an adjunct position in the Art Department. She counts many scandalous women among her closest friends. Like one of her subjects, Sarah Grand, she is an avid cyclist.

Professor Colleen Denney’s profile page on the University of Wyoming website

More information about Women, Portraiture and the Crisis of Identity in Victorian England

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