who were the important women novelists of the victorian age?who were the important women novelists of the victorian age?

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dalepowell1962 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The problem in answering this question is that inevitably, someone of significance is bound to be left out. 

The Bronte sisters quickly come to mind as significant women novelists of the Victorian Age.  Emily Bronte's masterpiece that combines gothic and period pieces is a phenomenal example: of course we are referring to Wuthering Heights.  Sister Charlotte Bronte produced Jane Ayre.  Another Bronte sister, Anne, did not have the stand out novels that her sisters did, but she wrote in a realistic rather than a romantic style.

Undoubedly, the most prolific female poet of the Victorian age was Elizabeth Browning, wife of poet Robert Browning.


I know we have left out many, but there is certainly a start.


M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here is a list I found of nineteenth century female writers-

Mary Shelley

Fanny Burney

Jane Austin

Emily Dickinson

The three Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Anne, Emily

George Eliot

Elizabeth Browning 

Maria Edgeworth

Joanna Baillie

Susan Ferrier

Mary Hays

Elizabeth Ichibald

Frances Sheridan

Charlotte Smith

Ann Yearsley

udonbutterfly | Student

Two that stand out for me would be Emily Bronte ad Mary Shelley. With Emily Bronte her style of work opened the door for weird ways of work being delivered. Although the book went through two people perspective written in Diary form the plot was well delivered and it gave the book unique quality where the reader had not only decipher one persons point of view but two and question the form of deliverance. Then there's Mary Shelley, here novel had the post-renaissance like flare. Where exploring knowledge was a great and interesting then then knowledge over exceeded capabilities and turned around and became more of a hindrance almost like certain scientific theory's to Catholic scientists.

doritsas | Student

Anne Bronte, one of the more unknown Victorian novelists, writes about the challenges of governessing which impacts her female identity. Her major novel, Agnes Grey, focuses on Anne's life as a governess. Agnes works under difficult conditions, which mainly consist of a lack of respect between employer and employee and understands then and there, what being a governess is really all about.


kc4u | Student

Quite a number of women novelists significantly contributed to the richness & variety of Victorian fiction. We may name Mrs.Gaskell, the Bronte Sisters & George Eliot among them.

In her Mary Barton(1848) & North and South(1855) Mrs.Gaskell exposed the cruelty of the industrial system, showing her talent of combining social criticism and melodrama. She also pictured provincial life with a gentleness of humour in Cranford(1853).

Of the Bronte Sisters, Charlotte & Emily were the most famous. Charlotte's novels are grounded in realism and mostly autobiographical in nature. She combines scenes from her own life with far richer romantic experiences of her imagination in her Jane Eyre(1847), Shirley(1849), Villette(1853) & The Professor(1857). Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights(1847) is her only novel narrating with rare imagination & starkness of passion a strange story having a wild and cruel reality in the backdrop of moorlands.

Mary Ann Evans wrote under the name of George Eliot. Of the women novelists of the period, she was the most learned. Her early periodical publication, Scenes of Clerical Life(1857) was an immediate success. It was followed by Adam Bede(1859), a novel on the background of English rural life around the lively and pathetic figure of a young girl, Hetty Sorel. The Mill on the Floss(1860) told the story of the life of a brother and sister: the intospective and passionate girl reacting against the blunt and boisterous boy. Silas Marner(1861) was a short but well-designed narrative, followed by a historical novel of the Italian Renaissance, Romola(1863). Felix Holt(1866) was a radical work of the Reform Bill period, with an over-elaborate plot. Returning from the past to the present & having her intellect under the control of imagination, George Eliot wrote one of the greatest novels of nineteenth century, Middlemarch(1871-72).