Empire Girls

Empire Girls

the colonial heroine comes of age

by Mandy Treagus


FREE | 2014 | Ebook (PDF) | 978-1-922064-55-4 | 280 pp

DOI: https://doi.org/10.20851/empire-girls

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The dominant form of the nineteenth-century novel was the Bildungsroman, a story of an individual’s development that came to speak more widely of the aspirations of nineteenth-century British society. Some of the most famous examples — David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre — validated the world from which they sprang, in which even orphans could successfully make their way.

Empire Girls: the colonial heroine comes of age is a critical examination of three novels by writers from different regions of the British Empire: Olive Schreiner’s The Story of An African Farm (South Africa), Sara Jeannette Duncan’s A Daughter of Today (Canada) and Henry Handel Richardson’s The Getting of Wisdom (Australia). All three novels commence as conventional Bildungsromane, yet the plots of all diverge from the usual narrative structure, as a result of both their colonial origins and the clash between their aspirational heroines and the plots available to them. In an analysis including gender, empire, nation and race, Empire Girls provides new critical perspectives on the ways in which this dominant narrative form performs very differently when taken out of its metropolitan setting.