An exciting and provocative look at the women who wrote the novels that changed the literary world - Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Virginia Woolf - by the renowned biographer of Emily Dickinson.
Outsiders tells the stories of five novelists - Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Virginia Woolf - and their famous novels.
We have long known their individual greatness but in linking their creativity to their lives as outsiders, this group biography throws new light on the genius they share. 'Outsider', 'outlaw', 'outcast': a woman's reputation was her security and each of these five lost it. As writers, they made these identities their own, taking advantage of their separation from the dominant order to write their novels.
All five were motherless. With no female model at hand, they learnt from books; and if lucky, from an enlightened man; and crucially each had to imagine what a woman could be in order to invent a voice of their own. They understood female desire: the passion and sexual bravery in their own lives infused their fictions.
What they have in common also is the way they inform one another, and us, across the generations. Even today we do more than read them; we listen and live with them.
Reviews, News & Interviews:
The work and lives of Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf are well known. Gordon's thesis sets out just how original and brave they were - and at what cost. We owe them much. Joan Bakewell, New Statesman
Lyndall Gordon's empathetic commitment to the unfolding story in the lives of literary figures is central to her work. Daily Telegraph
Impeccably researched . . . an excellent read. The Lady
Gordon succeeds in showing not only the pain but "the possibilities of the outsider" . While distinctive in their voices, these writers converge "in their hatred of our violent world", exposing domestic and systemic violence. Their strength of spirit shines from the pages and through the ages. Anita Sethi, Observer