Incorporeal and Inspected: Aristocratic Female Bodies and the Gaze in the Works of Mrs Henry Wood

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This article posits that sensation novelist Mrs Henry Wood, despite her complex representations of gender and class, articulated a proto-feminist stance through many of her works through the trope of the disembodied aristocratic female. Wood represents the impossible, contradictory spaces that women in general are supposed to occupy by using the high visibility of aristocratic female characters as a magnifying glass for gender norms. Wood sees aristocratic women as doubly trapped by patriarchal structures as these women attempt the paradoxical “public vs. private” and “viewed vs. intangible” demands placed on them by their gender and class statuses. By representing all women, but especially upper-class women, as constantly seen but lacking corporeal forms (especially in comparison to the highly embodied male characters in her texts), Wood stresses the tension between conflicting ideologies of conventional femininity in the Victorian period.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's Writing
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Women's Writing on 12 July 2019, available online at:


  • class
  • gender
  • Mrs Henry Wood
  • Sensation fiction
  • the gaze
  • Victorian literature

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