Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Woodview. House in southern England’s Sussex countryside, close to Shoreham, that is owned by the Barfields, for whom Esther Waters becomes a kitchen maid. Although she is from London, Esther loves the countryside and spends much of her spare time walking on the Downs. Woodview is not so much a country house as a working stables, where racehorses are trained. Nevertheless, in many ways the establishment is typical of a small country house and is managed in the usual fashion, with a distinct hierarchy below stairs as well as above.

The house has been much expanded and altered, reflecting Mr. Barfield’s intermittent prosperity. The establishment is unusual in that it is entirely permeated by the racing culture, with many of its staff members having been involved in racing for many years. Others gamble habitually, and servants are likely to be sacked if they discuss racing business, for fear this might give information to other racehorse owners. Although much of the racing culture is unpleasant to the religious Esther Waters, who is a member of the Plymouth Brethren, she is nevertheless happier at Woodview than at any other time and in any other place, and it is to Woodview, much diminished, that she later returns, to work for Mrs. Barfield once again, after her husband dies.


*London. Esther’s original home and the city to which she returns after she becomes pregnant. After first going to her mother’s home, she spends time in a lying-in hospital in Marylebone, in a lodginghouse, in a workhouse, sleeping rough on the Embankment, and in a succession of situations as she attempts to find enough money to keep herself and her son—who lodges with an old woman in Dulwich. George...

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Esther Waters Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Cave, Richard Allen. A Study of the Novels of George Moore. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1978. Discusses specific texts from George Moore’s oeuvre and provides an overview of the texts and the stylistic subheadings under which they may be categorized. Also includes concise notes and references for further research.

Farrow, Anthony. George Moore. Boston: Twayne, 1978. Provides a chronology of the significant events of Moore’s life and explores the influences and other factors to which he was exposed as a writer.

Federico, Annette. “Subjectivity and Story in George Moore’s Esther Waters.” In English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920. Greensboro: University of North Carolina, 1993. A study of the motivations that led Moore to write this socially provocative text. Also explores the cultural significance of the character of Esther.

Gerber, Helmut E., ed. George Moore in Transition: Letters to T. Fisher Unwin and Lena Milman, 1894-1910. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1978. The letters contained in this text offer some indication of the reflective artfulness of Moore’s craft. Also provides personal glimpses into his life, instincts, processes, and creative genius.

Owens, Graham, ed. George Moore’s Mind and Art. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1970. A collection of nine critical essays that examine Moore’s novels. Offers excellent insight into the author’s themes and issues.