Research Output
Nineteenth-century girls and authorship: adolescent writing, appropriation, and their representation in literature, c. 1860-1900
  During the final decades of the nineteenth century girls’ culture flourished. As recent scholarship has shown, this culture pivoted on an engagement with fiction and particularly the periodical press. Magazines such as the Girl’s Own Paper and the Monthly Packet provided spaces where girls could benefit from being part of a larger network of contributors. The reciprocal reading and writing culture accessed through periodicals epitomised the experience of a creative and intellectual adolescence for many girls during the late-Victorian era. This thesis explores a discrete girls’ culture that was also cultivated in diaries and circulated manuscript magazines during this period. As these writings were shared with family or peers respectively, they can be viewed as tools of socialisation or ‘apprenticeships’ in writing, as well as in girlhood. Yet girls’ writings were also sites of resistance; in responding to the model literary and print culture in which they were immersed, girls cultivated an autonomous writing culture which hinged on strategies of adaptation and appropriation. Sociological theories of youth culture have demonstrated that young people actively contribute to cultural reproduction and change. When combined with theories of literary appropriation in this thesis, these insights shed light on the specific types of authorship which reflect girls’ simultaneous participation in and exclusion from a dynamic literary and print culture.

This thesis analyses the development of girls’ literary culture in the late-Victorian manuscript writings. Moreover it contextualises girls’ appropriative writing culture in broader debates concerning late-Victorian literature and publishing, gender and Girls Studies. Through considering little- or never-before-studied girls’ manuscripts and texts as integral to late-Victorian literary culture, this thesis makes a significant and original contribution to these flourishing research areas. It contributes to the lively debate in childhood studies which seeks to assign agency to children in the archive, as well as the ongoing feminist project to incorporate female writings into the study of literary history.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    03 July 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    PZ Childrens literature

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Burke, L. M. Nineteenth-century girls and authorship: adolescent writing, appropriation, and their representation in literature, c. 1860-1900. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



girls' culture; diaries; periodicals; magazines; print culture; nineteenth-century; gender; publishing

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