Research Output

Marginalisation Vs. Emancipation: The (New) Woman Question in Dollie Radford’s diary and poetry

  This thesis sheds light on Dollie Radford as one of the talented women writers whose work is still insufficiently acknowledged by contemporary studies because of the lack of extant information about her life. LeeAnne Richardson, Ruth Livesey, and Emily Harrington are three of only a handful of scholars who have discussed in any detail Radford’s role as a poet, socialist, and activist who was surrounded by key figures in the history of English literature and culture, such as William Morris, Oscar Wilde, Eleanor Marx, and Olive Schreiner. Despite being identified by Victorian reviewers as a “domestic” woman poet, all contemporary scholars who have hitherto considered Radford pinpoint her “radical” thoughts and engagement with the New Woman. Building on arguments by Radford’s contemporary scholars, my argument highlights Radford’s role as a Victorian feminist who sought, through her poetry, to challenge patriarchal attitudes and defy social conventions which imprisoned women of her generation.
While the first two chapters of this thesis provide a contextual background of women’s rights and women’s poetry in the Victorian era, the four remaining chapters explore how Radford’s personal conflict as an ignored married woman and unsupported writer might have influenced her empathetic portrayal of marginalised figures, such as prostitutes, the working classes, women writers, and homosexuals. Simultaneously, the chapters highlight the subversive meanings obscured by Radford’s use of evocative and aesthetic language. The majority of the poems, letters, and diary entries included here are unpublished and have not yet been considered by contemporary critics. Thus, this research adds to the existing body of knowledge, offering a new approach to Radford’s life and poetry in relation to aspects concerning women in Victorian and Edwardian England. By continuously interrogating Radford’s choice of metaphors and images in contrast with those depicted by other Victorian poets, I aim to establish Radford as a significant fin-se-siècle woman poet whose poetry embraces a literary tradition which questions negative gendered attitudes biased against passionate women writers.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    29 February 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    PR English literature

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    820 English & Old English literatures


Azhar, H. J. (2016). Marginalisation Vs. Emancipation: The (New) Woman Question in Dollie Radford’s diary and poetry. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Dollie Radford, New Woman, feminist literature,

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