Bowler, R (2020) May Sinclair and the Brontë myth: rewilding and dissocializing Charlotte. Feminist Modernist Studies. 1 - 17. ISSN 2469-2921

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This article surveys May Sinclair’s writing on the Brontë sisters in order to chart her revisionist impulse with relation to their reputation, her anxiety about her own literary reputation, genius in women and intellectual self-sufficiency. I argue that in her insistence on the significance of Haworth and the moors as “background” to the sisters’ lives and her careful portrayal of each sister as either “savage” or “half savage” she is establishing the sisters as Romantic geniuses on the one hand and as dissocialized and self-sufficient elemental figures on the other. I move from an examination of Sinclair’s revisioning of Gaskell’s Brontë myth and her engagement with Clement Shorter and the Héger-Brussels question, to a reading of two of her novels in which Sinclair’s own version of the Brontë myth – the untamed intellect of the genius woman in communion with the landscape – is explored. I will draw on the new materialism of recent feminist ecocriticism to argue that, for Sinclair, the cultural and intellectual work of writing is environmentally and materially informed. Sinclair is at pains to show that the Brontë sisters themselves, and Sinclair’s own fictional writer-heroines, can escape essentially uncompromised from domestic and social materiality, and maintain communion with a different kind of materiality: the sacred materiality of landscape.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this accepted manuscript and all relevant information can be found online at;
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2021 09:37
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2022 01:30

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