edited with an introduction and notes by Barbara Tilley
Aristocratic Jessamine Halliday, suffering a “splenetic seizure” brought on by high breeding, is prescribed a therapeutic break in the Scottish Highlands. While there, she falls in love with handsome crofter Colin Macgillvray and makes an indecent proposal by offering him the “unconditional surrender” of her body but refusing to give her hand in marriage. A Superfluous Woman is an audacious exploration of the fin-de-siècle preoccupation with race, class, and the sexual double standard.
Unsurprisingly, Brooke’s novel caused outrage among critics. Campaigner W. T. Stead denounced it as “an immoral tale,” and The Times lamented its distinctly feminist message. This reaction, and Brooke’s boldness, ensured that it became one of the best-selling New Woman novels of the 1890s.
This edition includes:
- Critical introduction by Barbara Tilley
- Explanatory footnotes
- Brooke’s original preface
- Selection of contemporary reviews
- The full text of Brooke’s article, ‘Women and their Sphere’ from Our Corner