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Writers, Readers, and ReputationsLiterary Life in Britain 1870-1918$
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Philip Waller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021

Hymns and Heroines: Florence Barclay

Hymns and Heroines: Florence Barclay

(p.702) 20 Hymns and Heroines: Florence Barclay
Writers, Readers, and Reputations

Philip Waller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Florence Barclay was in a different category of best-seller, her work being suffused by her strong Evangelical religious feeling. She was the daughter of one Anglican clergyman and wife to another. Music was an additional source of inspiration. How aware she was of the equally strong note of sexual passion running through her stories is a moot point, although she was clear that romantic as well as Christian love was the basis of the perfect marriage, as she believed was personified by the Brownings, whom she idolised. Strikingly, her heroines were much older and plainer than their male lovers; character, which included sporting prowess — an accomplishment they shared with Barclay herself — mattered above physical beauty. Though her detractors derided her apparent naivety and social conformity, in fact she was politically a Liberal and in many respects an assertive and independent-minded woman. Like Garvice, Barclay had her first work published in three-volume format and it failed to take off. Success came to her decades later, in part because of keen marketing by Putnam's in Britain and in the U.S.A., where her novel The Rosary topped the best-seller list in 1910, and where her sister had become a well-known evangelist. Barclay, while enjoying her stature as a Queen of Romance, held back from fully exploiting her celebrity.

Keywords:   best-seller, religion, heroines, sporting prowess, florence Barclay

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