Ambitious Heights : Writing, Friendship, Love – The Jewsbury Sisters, Felicia Hemans, and Jane Welsh Carlyle

How did the Victorian woman cope with the image of herself as a writer?What were the constraints on female friendships in a world centred on the pre-eminence of the husband?How significant for an ambitious woman were her politics about men?At the heart of this book, originally published in 1990, is a friendship between two women: Jane Carlyle and the novelist Geraldine Jewsbury. But it was a difficult friendship, and in its difficulty lies much that is illuminating: about nineteenth-century domestic ideology; about writing for a market, and female fame; and about the complex ambivalences between women. Examining aspects of their lives, writing, and relationships, alongside those of two other writers – Felicia Hemans and Geraldine’s sister, Maria Jane – Norma Clarke provides a subtle and illuminating discussion of the possibilities that were open to women in the Victorian age.