an independent academic publisher since 1985

book details

Bookmark and Share
The Woman Who Did 

The Woman Who Did

Written by: Grant Allen
Edited by: Nicholas Ruddick

Series: Broadview Editions

Publication Date: January 01, 2004
238pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551115108 / 1551115107

Broadview's ebooks run on the industry-standard Adobe Digital Editions platform. Learn more about ebooks here. If you don't already have Adobe, we caution you that it may take some time to set up. Please note that most Broadview books are also available through other platforms—such as Google Play—that do not rely on the same software.

Buy Now

View Table of Contents

The controversial subject matter of Grant Allen's novel, The Woman Who Did, made it a major bestseller in 1895. It tells the story of Herminia Barton, a university-educated New Woman who, because of her belief that marriage oppresses women, refuses to marry her lover even though she shares his bed and bears his child. Her ideals come into disastrous conflict with intensely patriarchal late Victorian England. Indeed, Allen intended his novel to shock readers into a serious exploration of some of the major issues in fin de siècle sexual politics, issues that he himself, in various periodical articles under the rubric of the "Woman Question," had played a leading role in opening up to public debate.

This Broadview edition contains a critical introduction as well as a rich selection of appendices which include excerpts from Allen's writings on women, sex, and marriage; contemporary writings on the "Sex Problem"; documents pertaining to the Marriage Debate; contemporary responses to the novel; and excerpts from two parodies of the novel.


"Ruddick's new edition of The Woman Who Did makes a wonderful addition to Broadview's growing list of key fin de siècle texts. Placing Grant Allen's polemical short novel in the context both of his career as a public intellectual and of ongoing debates about sex, marriage, gender, and eugenics, the introduction and selected primary sources help explain the stakes behind the uproar that surrounded the novel's publication. The supplementary material on marriage debates of the 1880s and 1890s, as well as the selections from initial reviews of the novel, are particularly helpful in this regard. A splendid resource for those interested in the Victorian fin de siècle, and the nineteenth-century Woman Question." - Kathy Alexis Psomiades, Duke University

"This meticulously edited reprint of Grant Allen's notorious 1895 novel is an important and very welcome addition to Broadview Press's increasingly rich library of once-popular eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts by women that have, for many years now, languished in archives accessible only to scholars. Nicholas Ruddick's thoughtful introduction and the appendiceswhich include contemporary reviews, source materials, excerpts from the Marriage Debate, 1888-1895, and key non-fiction prose writings by Grant Allenwill be invaluable resources." - Ann L. Ardis, University of Delaware

Nicholas Ruddick is a Professor of English at the University of Regina. He is the editor of the Broadview edition of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine (2001). 

Academics please note that this is a title classified as having a restricted allocation of complimentary copies; complimentary copies remain readily available to adopters and to academics very likely to adopt this title in the coming academic year. When adoption possibilities are less strong and/or further in the future, academics are requested to purchase the title at an academic discount, with the proviso that Broadview will happily refund the purchase price (with or without a receipt) if the book is indeed adopted.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Grant Allen: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

The Woman Who Did

Appendix A: Grant Allen on Women, Sex, and Marriage

1. From "Woman's Place in Nature (1889)

2. From "Plain Words on the Woman Question" (1889)

3. From "The Girl of the Future" (1890)

4. From "The New Hedonism" (1894)

5. From "About the New Hedonism" (1894)

6. From "Introduction" to The British Barbarians (1895)

Appendix B: Sources of Allen’s Views on the "Sex Problem"

1. Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Notes to Queen Mab (1813)

2. John Stuart Mill, from The Subjection of Women (1878)

3. Herbert Spencer, from The Principles of Sociology (1885)

4. August Bebel, from Woman in the Past, Present, and Future (1885)  

5. Eleanor Marx Aveling and Edward Aveling, from "The Woman Question" (1886)

6. Karl Pearson, from "Socialism and Sex" (1888)

7. Olive Schreiner, from "Three Dreams in a Desert" (1894)

Appendix C: The Marriage Debate 1888-1895

1. Mona Caird, from "Marriage" (1888)

2. Elizabeth Rachel Chapman, from "Marriage Rejection and Marriage Reform" (1888)

3. Harry Quilter, ed., from Is Marriage a Failure? (1888)

4. Mona Caird, from "Ideal Marriage" (1888)

5. Clementina Black, from "On Marriage: A Criticism" (1890)

6. Edward Carpenter, from Marriage in Free Society (1894)

7. Beswicke Ancrum, from "The Sexual Problem" (1894)

8. E.M.S., from "Some Modern Ideas about Marriage" (1895)

Appendix D: The Reception of The Woman Who Did

1. H[arold] F[rederic], from the New York Times (3 and 17 February 1895)

2. [W.T. Stead], from Review of Reviews (February 1895)

3. (a) Percy Addleshaw, from Academy (2 March 1895); (b) Grant Allen, from letter to Academy (9 March 1895)

4. (a) [H.G. Wells], from Saturday Review (9 March 1895); (b) Grant Allen, from letter to Saturday Review (16 March 1895)

5. From Spectator (30 March 1895)

6. From Humanitarian (March 1895)

7. Millicent Garrett Fawcett, from Contemporary Review (May 1895)

8. Sarah A. Tooley, from Humanitarian (March 1896)

9. Richard Le Gallienne, from Retrospective Reviews (1896)  

Appendix E: Two Parodies

1. W.L. Alden, from Idler (February-July 1895)

2. From Punch (30 March 1895)

Works Cited and Recommended Reading 

Academics teaching relevant courses may request examination copies of titles to consider for text adoption. We ask that you limit your examination copy requests to three or fewer at a time; if you are not confident that you will adopt the book, please help us keep costs down by ordering it instead. If in the future you do decide to assign as a course text a book you have previously ordered personally, Broadview Press will be happy to refund your money.

The Woman Who Did

2004 • 238pp • Paperback • 9781551115108 / 1551115107

Instructors – Planning your syllabi? Consider this book for course use.

Request Exam Copy


Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.