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Decadent Women

Yellow Book Lives

The never-before-told story of the extraordinary women behind a trailblazing British magazine.
During the 1890s, British women for the first time began to leave their family homes to seek work, accommodation, and financial and sexual freedom. Decadent Women is an account of some of these women who wrote for the innovative art and literary journal The Yellow Book. For the first time, and drawing on original research, Jad Adams describes the lives and work of these vibrant and passionate women, from well-connected and fashionable aristocrats to the desperately poor. He narrates the challenges they faced in a literary marketplace, and within a society that overwhelmingly favored men, showing how they were pioneers of a new style, living lives of lurid adventure and romance, as well as experiencing poverty, squalor, disease, and unwanted pregnancy.

408 pages | 47 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: American History

Women's Studies

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“Part literary history, part social history, and entirely delightful, Decadent Women: Yellow Book Lives is a detailed, diverting, and accessible study of all the women who contributed to the groundbreaking fin-de-siècle magazine, showing how it made their careers even as they made it the bible of British decadence.”

David Weir, professor emeritus of comparative literature, Cooper Union, New York

“Through superb storytelling . . . this is a book that reflects impressive scholarship and research, but that wears its scholarship lightly. It draws upon a wide range of biographical materials, both published and unpublished, including archives and letters, while also featuring, along the way, some illuminating close readings of texts by the featured women authors. . . . I couldn’t put it down!”

Margaret D. Stetz, Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies and professor of humanities, University of Delaware

Table of Contents

Part One: Fin de Siècle

1 The Launch
2Gabriela’s Deceptions
3The Forerunner
4Yellow Book Types
5‘Hast thou slain the Yallerbock?’
6Office Wars
7A Paris Mystery
8Mabel’s Urge for Fame
9Netta Syrett and the Flat of Girls
10Ménie Muriel Dowie’s Celebrity
11Evelyn Sharp and the Last Volume

Part Two: Commence de Siècle

12Family Battles
13Charlotte Mew: Love Rebuffed
14Ella D’Arcy: ‘Not dead yet’
15Netta Syrett’s Drama Curtailed
16Mabel’s War
17Unresting Dragonfly
18George Egerton: ‘This life is dry rot’
19Suffragette Warrior
20The Ship with Black Sails

Appendix: List of All Women Writers for the Yellow Book

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

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