The Female Servant and Sensation Fiction
|Publication Date||October 2013|
|Formats||Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF)|
The Female Servant and Sensation Fiction: 'Kitchen Literature' explores how the sensation fiction genre popular in the 1860s fits into the canon of nineteenth-century literature and considers how its depiction of gender and class reflects a context of social change. Contemporary critics derided the genre as 'kitchen literature' because of its popularity among the newly literate servant classes, but this term also suggests the prominence of the genre's servant characters. This study reveals the female servant as a key figure who embodies the most 'sensational' aspects of the genre, particularly through her subversion of the Victorian boundaries of class and gender. Examining texts from authors such as Wilkie Collins, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and Elizabeth Gaskell, it explores the recurring tropes of the servant as a victim, criminal, actress, and spouse or lover. Ultimately, it suggests that, far from the fad of a single decade, sensation fiction has clear canonical origins and its influence is still felt today in Neo-Victorian literature and popular culture.