The Story of a Modern Woman
  • Publication Date: January 14, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551113807 / 1551113805
  • 295 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Story of a Modern Woman

  • Publication Date: January 14, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551113807 / 1551113805
  • 295 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Ella Hepworth Dixon’s The Story of a Modern Woman originally appeared in serial form in the women’s weekly The Lady’s Pictorial. Like Hepworth Dixon herself, the novel’s heroine Mary Erle is a woman writer struggling to make her living as a journalist in the 1880s. Forced by her father’s sudden death to support herself, Mary Erle turns to writing three-penny-a-line fiction, works that (as her editor insists) must have a ball in the first volume, a picnic and a parting in the second, and an opportune death in the third.

This Broadview edition’s rich selection of historical documents helps contextualize The Story of a Modern Woman in relation to contemporary debates about the “New Woman.”


The Story of a Modern Woman is both the tale of a woman’s struggle to realize her independence as a professional writer and the story of modern London itself. On the verge of a new century, the crowded, gas-lit metropolis is depicted to almost cinematic effect as both the greatest obstacle to a woman’s self-realization, and her surest hope for the future. Steve Farmer’s splendid new edition allows us to fully appreciate Hepworth Dixon’s achievement, providing a well-chosen selection of essays and articles that sets the novel within the context of the major intellectual and cultural debates of the fin de siècle. This is a most welcome addition to our understanding of the New Woman.” — Christopher Keep, University of Western Ontario

Ella Hepworth Dixon: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Story of a Modern Woman

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews of The Story of a Modern Woman

  1. From W.T. Stead’s Review of Reviews, vol. 10, 1894
  2. The Athenæum, 16 June 1894
  3. The Times, 30 June 1894
  4. The New York Times, 10 June 1894
  5. The New York Tribune, 11 October 1894
  6. The Westminster Review, vol. 142, 1894
  7. The Critic, 9 March 1895

Appendix B: 1883 Map of London and Locations Mentioned in the Novel

Appendix C: Victorian Fear at the End of the Century: The “New Woman” Debate

  1. Sarah Grand, “The New Aspect of the Woman Question,” 1894
  2. From Ouida’s “The New Woman,” 1894
  3. “Character Note: The New Woman,” 1894
  4. From Ella W.Winston’s “Foibles of the New Woman,” 1896
  5. From Hugh Stutfield’s “Tommyrotics,” 1895
  6. From Hugh Stutfield’s “The Psychology of Feminism,” 1897

Appendix D: The New Woman as “Wild Woman”: The Exchange between E.L. Linton and Mona Caird

  1. From Eliza Lynn Linton’s “The Wild Women as Politicians,” 1891
  2. From Eliza Lynn Linton’s “The Wild Women as Social Insurgents,” 1891
  3. From Eliza Lynn Linton’s “The Partisans of the Wild Women,” 1892
  4. From Mona Caird’s “A Defence of the So-Called ‘Wild Women’,” 1892

Appendix E: Marriage

  1. From Mona Caird’s “Marriage,” 1888
  2. Ella Hepworth Dixon, “Why Women Are Ceasing to Marry,” 1899

Appendix F: Literary Censorship in Victorian England

  1. From George Moore’s Literature at Nurse, or Circulating Morals, 1885
  2. Walter Besant, Eliza Lynn Linton, and Thomas Hardy, “Candour in Fiction,” 1890

Select Bibliography

Steve Farmer teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature at Arizona State University, Tempe. He is the editor of the Broadview editions of Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1996) and The Moonstone (1999).