The Woman Who Did
  • Publication Date: June 25, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551115108 / 1551115107
  • 238 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Woman Who Did

  • Publication Date: June 25, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551115108 / 1551115107
  • 238 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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 appendices—which include contemporary reviews, source materials, excerpts from the Marriage Debate, 1888-1895, and key non-fiction prose writings by Grant Allen—will be invaluable resources.” — Ann L. Ardis, University of Delaware

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

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).