Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture

By Kali Israel | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION Genres of Life-Writing

Life Stories

After her death in October 1904, Emilia Dilke was memorialized as an "exceptional woman" by diverse mourners. Involved with the Women's Trade Union League from its foundation in 1874, Dilke had been its president from 1886 until her death; accordingly, the Women's Trade Union Review, the League's journal, grieved as "her colleagues in the work to which she devoted the larger part of her life and the choicest powers of her fine intellect," regretting the loss of "one . . . fitted, as few human beings . . . to fill the post of leader in a crusade against the tyranny of social tradition and the callousness of social indifference." Her funeral was attended by representatives of the Trades Union Congress and the Miners' Federation and by such trade-union luminaries as Mary Macarthur and Ben Tillett. Their testimonials spoke of trade- unionism as "[her life's] chief enthusiasm, its ruling aim and purpose." The Review printed letters of mourning from dozens of individuals and organizations in the labor movement along with plans for a memorial fund to support the League's work. 1 But a year after her death, an anonymous article entitled "The Art-Work of Lady Dilke" appeared in the Quarterly Review. 2 The writer intersperses a discussion of Dilke's eight volumes of art history with long laments that she had spent her energy on anything else. She had "sacrificed precious hours and months of a too brief life to a benevolent mission which might have been fulfilled by others," neglecting her "unique vocation." 3 Her trade-unionist and feminist work are positioned by this writer as an unfortunate distraction from more exalted intellectual labors.

Organized labor and this admirer of Dilke's art history agree on one thing: the fullness of the life. Similarly, in his "Memoir" of Emilia Dilke, her widower, Charles

-3-

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Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction Genres of Life-Writing 3
  • 1 - On Not Being an Orphan 19
  • 2 - Pictures and Lessons 39
  • 3 - Making a Marriage 74
  • 4 - Bodies Marriage, Adultery, and Death 108
  • 5 - The Resources of Style 162
  • 6 - French Vices 198
  • 7 - Renaissances 240
  • Notes 265
  • Identified Works by E F. S. Pattison/Dilke 341
  • Index 347
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