19C Centre seminar series presents Dr Serena Trowbridge
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19C Centre seminar series presents Dr Serena Trowbridge (Birmingham City)
‘Although she is not a lady, her mind is poetic’: The Poetry of Elizabeth Siddall
Few female figures of the nineteenth century have engaged the popular imagination as much as that of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall. Her life seems to be of more interest than her work, however; she seems to exist in our consciousness of the Victorian period as a woman who represents the repressed, neglected and ‘fallen’ females of the time. The myths about her abound: she seems to be the reverse of her sister-in-law, the poet Christina Rossetti, chaste, religious and a spinster who wrote devotional poems. Yet these views are stereotypes and barely scratch the surface.
This paper will explore why it has been so difficult to take Siddall’s poems seriously. I will examine Siddall’s poems and their publication history, and suggest some ways in which it might be possible to take her writing seriously, looking at her skill as a poet and also ways in which her style was shaped by those around her. Although there are only fifteen poems extant, plus a few fragments, there is enough to give an idea of the kind of poet she was, and to draw some wider conclusions about her work.
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