edited with an introduction & notes by Lise Shapiro Sanders
“He married you under false pretences, as false as they would have been if he had had another wife living at the time.”
Reminiscent of the Brontës’ Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s Janet Doncaster chronicles a young woman’s struggle for independence. With no fortune, no family to support her, and no practical skills enabling her to earn a living, Janet is lured into an unwanted marriage and must confront an uncertain future.
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929), known today for her leadership of the British constitutional suffrage movement, distinguished herself initially as an author of works on political economy and women’s rights. Her only novel, first published in 1875, explores the politics of marriage and domesticity at a time when middle-class women were actively challenging the sexual double standard in the realms of law, education, work, and family. Janet Doncaster anticipates the concerns of the New Woman novel, combining Fawcett’s astute political insight with a compelling tale of fidelity, betrayal, and self-determination.
This new edition includes:
- critical introduction by Lise Shapiro Sanders
- explanatory notes
- select bibliography
- chronology of Millicent Garrett Fawcett
Along with extensive additional contextual material, including:
- selected writings by Millicent Garrett Fawcett and other early feminist activists
- contemporaneous accounts of efforts to reform the laws affecting marriage, divorce, and women’s property
- Victorian writings on liberalism, political economy, and temperance
- reviews of the novel from the period.
Lise Shapiro Sanders is Associate Professor of English Literature and Cultural Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is the author of Consuming Fantasies: Labor, Leisure, and the London Shopgirl, 1880-1920 and, with Amy Bingaman and Rebecca Zorach, co-editor of Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis. Her articles have appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Women’s History Review, and several edited collections. She is presently at work on a book on women’s popular culture in the 1920s.
“This delightful novel delivers social consciousness and humor in a powerful story of a woman struggling for self-determination. Lise Shapiro Sanders’ informative and well-written introduction helps the reader understand the social, political, and economic context in which the main character persists in her journey. The introduction and the selected writings in the notes at the end of the book illuminate the place of women in the England of Janet Doncaster’s time and highlight the challenges that all women faced. I’ve totally enjoyed being immersed in the world of Janet Doncaster.” Amazon reviewer
“This book contains GREAT information about Millicent Garrett Fawcett and her sisters. Lise Sanders’ introduction is well written and engaging. The materials she has compiled in the appendices are valuable to scholars interested in Victorian/Edwardian women’s issues, especially education and political engagement, most specifically suffrage.” Amazon reviewer
Chronology of Millicent Garrett Fawcett
A Note on the Text
About the Editor
Appendix A – The Garretts: Selected Writings
- Unsigned [Fydell Edmund Garrett], ‘Character Sketch: July – Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Her Daughter,’ The Review of Reviews , ed. W. T. Stead, vol. II no. 7 (July 1890): 17-23.
- Millicent Garrett Fawcett, ‘The Education of Women of the Middle and Upper Classes,’ Macmillan’s Magazine XVII (April 1868): 511-517.
- Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, ‘Sex in Mind and Education: A Reply,’ Fortnightly Review (May 1874): 582-594.
- Rhoda Garrett, ‘Electoral Disabilities of Women’ (1872).
- Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Home and Politics: An Address Delivered at Toynbee Hall and Elsewhere (London: The Central and East of England Society for Women’s Suffrage/Women’s Printing Society, Ltd., 1889): 2-8.
- Millicent Garrett Fawcett, The Women’s Victory—And After: Personal Reminiscences, 1911-1918 (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd, 1920): 156-157, 166-168.
Appendix B – Marriage and Divorce
- Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England: In Four Books , Adapted to the Present State of the Law by Robert Malcolm Kerr. Vol. I: Of the Rights of Persons (1765; 3rd ed., London: John Murray, 1862): 455-456, 458.
- Barbara Leigh Smith, A Brief Summary, in Plain Language, of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women; Together with a Few Observations Thereon (London: J. Chapman, 1854; 2nd rev. ed., London: Holyoake & Co., 1856): 2-12.
- The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857. Reprinted in John Fraser MacQueen, A Practical Treatise on Divorce and Matrimonial Jurisdiction under the Act of 1857 and New Orders . London: W. Maxwell, H. Sweet, and V. & R. Stevens & G. S. Norton, 1858.
- The Married Women’s Property Acts. Reprinted in John Richard Griffith, The Married Women’s Property Acts 1870, 1874, 1882 and 1884: With Copious and Explanatory Notes and an Appendix of Acts Relating to Married Women, ed. Archibald Brown. 6th ed. of the Married Women’s Property Acts (London: Stevens and Haynes, 1891).
Appendix C – Liberalism, Political Economy, and Temperance
- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859; 3rd ed., Boston: Ticknor, 1864): 1, 181-185, 188-190, 193.
- Henry Fawcett, Manual of Political Economy (London: Macmillan and Co., 1863): 1-10.
- F. R. Lees, from ‘The Morals of Temperance; or, Temperance as a Virtue,’ Text-book of Temperance. Rockland, Maine: Z. P. Vose & Co.; New York: J. N. Stearns, 1869.
- Thomas Hill Green, from ‘Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract’ (1881), in Works of Thomas Hill Green , Vol. III, ed. R. L. Nettleship (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1888): 365-367, 382-386.
- Ellen Webb, ‘Temperance in the Home’ (1881).
Appendix D – Contemporary Reviews
- The Athenaeum
- The British Quarterly Review
- The Canadian Monthly and National Review
- The Examiner
- The Spectator
- The Times
- The Westminster Review