. 4
( 12)


R. Munck, The Irish Economy: Results and Prospects (London, 1993).
Roger Scola, Feeding the Victorian City: The Food Supply of Manchester 1780 to 1870 (Manchester,

This hostility was evident during the introduction of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act in 1851.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 87
metropole.46 In Ireland, uniquely within the United Kingdom, no right
to poor relief existed and outdoor relief was illegal. Moreover, the Irish
Poor Law did not include a Law of Settlement, unlike in England, Wales
and Scotland, con¬rming the different status of Irish paupers from British
ones. The consequence was that if Irish immigrants sought relief in
Britain, they could be transported back to Ireland, which deterred even
the destitute from seeking assistance.47
Throughout the course of the Famine, despite palpable evidence of
suffering and hunger, relief policies increasingly prioritised the regen-
eration of the Irish economy over the needs of the poor. Furthermore, the
interests of the metropole were protected, even if the outcome was
damaging to Ireland. After 1845, the British government refused to close
the Irish ports to prevent food exports (despite requests to do so),
choosing to leave the movement of food to the merchant class and the
vagaries of an underdeveloped import sector and unregulated distribution
network. Consequently, large amounts of foodstuffs were exported from
Ireland to Britain.48 When the Irish Viceroy, Lord Clarendon, arrived in
Dublin in 1847, he was appalled by the consequences of his government™s
policies and privately informed the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell,
that ˜No-one could now venture to dispute the fact that Ireland had been
sacri¬ced to the London corn-dealers because you were a member for the
City, and that no distress would have occurred if the exportation of Irish
grain had been prohibited.™49
Successive relief measures, including the Poor Law Extension Act of
1847 and the Rate-in-Aid Act of 1849, transferred the ¬nancial burden
for intervention to Irish taxpayers, thus demonstrating that, within the
metropole, the Famine was viewed as neither a British nor an imperial
responsibility.50 Increasing the tax burden on Irish landowners con-
tributed to an escalation in evictions, adding homelessness to the problem
of hunger. The process was largely unregulated, leading Clarendon to
inform Russell that ˜I don™t think there is another legislature in Europe
that would disregard such suffering as now exists in the west of Ireland, or
coldly persist in a policy of extermination.™51 British of¬cials, who were
Kinealy, Disunited Kingdom, passim.
Frank Neal, Black ™47: Britain and the Famine Irish (London, 1998).
Kinealy, Great Irish Famine, ch. 5. There are similarities with the British government™s response to
the Bengal Famine of 1943“5.
Clarendon to Russell, Clarendon Papers, Bodleian Library, 12 July 1847.
The London Times spearheaded a campaign against giving support to Ireland: Times, 10 October
1846, 4 October 1848.
Clarendon to Russell, Clarendon Papers, Bodleian Library, 28 April 1849.
appointed to enquire into continuing high mortality in County Clare in
1850, were similarly critical, averring that:
Whether as regards the plain principles or humanity or the literal text and
admitted principles of the Poor Law of 1847, a neglect of public duty has taken
place and has occasioned a state of things disgraceful to a civilised age and country,
for which some authority ought to be held responsible and would long since have
been held responsible had these things occurred in any union in England.52
The treatment of Ireland after 1845 dismayed even traditional sup-
porters of Britain and the Empire. At a meeting held in Dublin in
January 1847, attended by landlords and the Irish upper middle classes, it
was agreed that as the Famine was an ˜imperial calamity™ the Exchequer
should ¬nance the relief schemes.53 The abandonment of the Irish poor
dismayed a number of British politicians and administrators. Edward
Twistleton, an Englishman who was in charge of the Irish Poor Law,
argued that if the Act of Union had any validity, then the Irish poor
should not be treated as separate entities during a crisis.54 The radical
Irish landlord and MP for Rochdale, William Sharman Crawford,
repeatedly asked for more government intervention, pointing out that
Irish taxes were paid into an imperial Treasury ˜and placed at the disposal
of an Imperial Legislature for the general purposes of the United King-
dom™, and expenditure by the Treasury should similarly be used to bene¬t
all portions of the United Kingdom.55 These pleas were ignored and
Ireland™s treatment during the Famine con¬rmed that, despite the Act of
Union, the humanitarian needs of the Irish people were secondary to the
protection of the metropole. If, as the Famine demonstrated, the Irish
people were unequal partners within the United Kingdom, what was their
place within the British Empire?

internal divisions
The small landowning Anglo-Irish elite who controlled Irish politics in
the nineteenth century were distinguished from the majority of the
population by their religion, class and allegiance to the Union. While the
Protestant Ascendancy was disliked and viewed as alien within Ireland, in

Report of the Select Committee appointed to enquire into the administration of the Poor Law in the
Kilrush Union since 19 September 1848, BPP, 1850 (613) xi, xiii.
Freeman™s Journal, 17 January 1847.
Evidence of Edward Twistleton, Select Committee on Irish Poor Law, 1849, xv, 699“714.
Parliamentary Debates, Hansard, 1 March 1849.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 89
Britain they were widely regarded with disdain and as an impediment to
modernisation. Consequently, their interests were marginalised within
the British parliament, as was evident by the passage of the Encumbered
Estates Acts of 1848 and 1849 and various Land Acts after 1870, all of which
undermined them economically, and forced the sale of their properties.56
The granting of various tenant rights constituted a social revolution and
demonstrated that Ireland was treated differently from other parts of the
United Kingdom, in order to keep the Empire intact. Gladstone™s justi¬-
cation for the ¬rst Land Act of 1870 was that ˜the end of our measure is to
give peace and security to Ireland and through Ireland to the Empire™.57
Moreover, just as the Famine had done, the legislation demonstrated that
even the Protestant Ascendancy class were not accepted as partners within
the Union, and were only given support when the interests of Empire were
at stake. Nonetheless, throughout the nineteenth century identi¬cation
with Britishness and empire was increasingly asserted.
The success of the Home Rule movement between 1885 and 1914 gave
rise to a new form of militant unionism, in which the populist Orange
Order played a key role. A further consequence was that politics in Ireland
split along nationalist/Catholic and unionist/Protestant lines.58 Thus, by
the time of the General Election of 1885 (based on the new parliamentary
franchise), political allegiances in Ireland had become polarised along
denominational lines.59 By the late 1880s, largely as a result of sectarian
con¬‚ict, Belfast was the most policed town in the United Kingdom and
possibly the Empire. An unfortunate consequence was that the middle
ground in Irish politics and the non-sectarian aspirations of earlier gen-
erations of nationalists increasingly evaporated.60 As a result, two dis-
tinctive colonial experiences coexisted in Ireland, which Pamela Clayton
has characterised as ˜Rebel Ireland™ and the ˜Imperial Province™, that is,
Ulster.61 Increasingly, the latter was associated with a form of conservative
Protestantism that cut across class divides. Meanwhile, Ireland™s ambiguous
colonial status meant that the opposing political traditions could diame-
trically represent themselves either as a partner and bene¬ciary, or as a
subjugated colony, with each side prioritising what they wanted to.62
Brewster et al., ˜Introduction™, in Ireland in Proximity, 2.
57 58
Jeffery, ˜Introduction™, in An Irish Empire, 4, 16. Ibid.
B. M. Walker, Ulster Politics: The Formative Years 1868“86 (Belfast, 1989), passim.
Ibid., 176“7.
Ibid. Clayton, ˜Two Kinds of Colony™, in Was Ireland a Colony., 235“48.
D. Fitzpatrick, quoted in Y. Whelan, ˜The Construction and Destruction of a Colonial
Landscape: Monuments to British Monarchs in Dublin Before and After Independence™, Journal
of Historical Geography, 28 (4) (2002, 508“33), 511.
Between 1880 and 1921, politicians in Westminster spent a dispropor-
tionate amount of time discussing Irish affairs. The Liberal Party, led by
Gladstone, supported Parnell and Home Rule, while the Tory Party,
encouraged by Randolph Churchill, allied with the Unionists. By doing so,
they kept Ireland at the forefront of British parliamentary debate and
energised British politics. In particular, Irish independence increased the
appeal of the Tory Party to British working-class voters. For the Liberal
Party, however, their close association with Home Rule after 1880 sowed
the seeds of their ultimate demise.
Within Ireland, a version of Britishness was developing that was rooted
in the reconstruction of a series of con¬‚icts that had taken place in Ireland
in the seventeenth century, but had been part of wider British and
European power struggles. These events, notably the Battle of the Boyne
in 1690, left an enduring legacy on both Irish and British politics. The
vision of a Protestant victory over Catholics was perpetuated by the anti-
Catholic Orange Order, which was formed in County Armagh in 1795,
partly in response to the growth of republicanism.63 The Orange Order
spread quickly, especially when Protestants felt their interests were being
threatened. In 1832, alarmed by the granting of Catholic Emancipation,
the Orange Order announced their willingness to put down all ˜Catholic™
rebellions and thus maintain ˜the integrity of the Empire™.64
By 1803, Orange lodges had been established in Britain and were then
formed throughout the British Empire, mostly by Protestant Irishmen
serving in the British army.65 Consequently, at the same time that Ireland
was inspiring nationalist movements throughout the Empire, she was
simultaneously exporting the ideology of the conservative, anti-Catholic
and sectarian Orange Order to the same locations. Within Britain, ˜the
Irish Orange Order provided the model for ultra Tories in England who
wanted to harness working class support in defence of the Church and
the Constitution™.66 This strategy was particularly important to the Tory
Party following the 1884 extension of the parliamentary franchise. The
impact of Irish sectarian divisions was not con¬ned to high politics but,
according to Donald MacRaild, ˜Orangeism became the very symbol of
British patriotism; once appropriated by the Tories, it recruited strongly
Jim Smyth, ˜The Men of No Popery: The Origins of the Orange Order™, History Ireland (1995), 52.
Resolution of the Grand Orange Lodge, Beresford Papers, Manuscript Room, Trinity College,
Dublin, ms.2319, 21 January 1832.
Report of Select Committee to Inquire into the Nature, Character, Extent and Tendency of Orange
Lodges, British Parliamentary Papers, 1835, xv.
Frank Neal, Sectarian Violence: The Liverpool Experience 1819“1914: An Aspect of Anglo-Irish History

(Manchester, 1988), x.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 91
among Protestant workers in Liverpool and other British cities with no
Ulster or Irish connections™.67 Due to the presence of large numbers of
both Catholic and Protestant immigrants in Liverpool, political divisions
emulated those in Ireland, with constitutional nationalism emerging
triumphant following the election of T. P. O™Connor to a Liverpool
constituency in 1885. He served as an Irish Nationalist MP until 1929,
outlasting the Partition of Ireland. At the same time, his opponents
perpetuated and exploited sectarian tensions, enabling ˜the Liverpool
Conservative Party to harness Protestant fears and prejudices for political
ends™ beyond the Second World War.68 Ireland, therefore, shaped British
politics at both local and national levels even after 1921.
The question of Ireland™s place within the Empire if Home Rule was
granted was of little concern to many nationalists during this period.
However, opponents of Home Rule articulated their hostility in terms of
the damage that it would do to the cohesion of the British Empire, possibly
acting as a spur to other imperial movements for independence.69 This
contention was marshalled to bolster the Unionist position, notably during
the campaign to resist the passing of the 1912 Home Rule bill, when ˜the
defence of the empire™ was frequently invoked.70 Increasingly, a Unionist
identity was being forged, which argued that nation, union and empire
were indivisible.71 Simultaneously, it was becoming more associated with
one place: Ulster.72

at home? the irish in britain
Despite the Act of Union, the Irish in Britain were still regarded as a threat
to the political stability and economic prosperity of the metropole. In
1826, Thomas Malthus, an in¬‚uential commentator on population growth,
warned a parliamentary committee that Irish emigration to England, if
unchecked, could have a negative impact on the British economy.73 The

Donald MacRaild (ed.), The Great Famine and Beyond: Irish Migration in Britain in the Nineteenth
and Twentieth Centuries (Dublin, 2000), 142.
Ibid., xi.
George Boyce, ˜British Conservative Opinion, the Ulster Question and the Partition of Ireland
1919“21™, Irish Historical Studies, 17 (65) (1970).
Jonathan Moore, Ulster Unionism and the British Conservative Party: A Study of a Failed Marriage
(London, 1997), 7.
Mark McGovern, ˜The Siege of Derry™, in D. George Boyce and Roger Swift (eds.), Problems and
Perspectives in Irish History since 1800 (Dublin, 2003), 52.
Kinealy, ˜The Orange Order and Britishness™, 25.
Thomas Robert Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population (¬rst pub. 1798; Harmondsworth,
1970), 118“19.
perception of Ireland as a ¬nancial drain on Britain climaxed during the
Famine years, when publications as in¬‚uential as The Times, Punch and the
Illustrated London News suggested that British taxpayers should not have to
pay for Irish poor relief.74 The cultural inferiority of Irish people was
articulated by in¬‚uential writers and intellectuals as diverse as J. A. Froude,
Charles Dickens, Charles Kingsley and Friedrich Engels, all of whom
accepted and perpetuated these racialised characterisations.75 The written
negative depictions of the Irish were reinforced by visual images in Punch
and other widely read journals.76 The Times, which argued against gov-
ernment intervention during the Famine, informed its readers that:
Before our merciful intervention, the Irish nation were a wretched, indolent, half-
starved tribe of savages . . . notwithstanding a gradual improvement upon the
naked savagery, they have never approached the standard of the civilised age.77
In the second half of the nineteenth century, Darwin™s theories of evo-
lution gave depictions of the Irish race as inferior a patina of scienti¬c
legitimacy, evident in an article in Punch in 1862, which explained:
A creature manifestly between the gorilla and the negro is to be met with in some
of the lowest districts of London and Liverpool . . . It belongs in fact to a tribe of
Irish savages . . . When conversing with its kind it talks a sort of gibberish.78
The racialisation of Irish immigrants had far-reaching consequences,
informing both populist and high politics and contributing to inter-
mittent anti-Irish riots. The limited rights of Irish people in the United
Kingdom were evident during the Famine when the deployment of the
British Laws of Settlement resulted in the large-scale deportation of Irish
paupers back to Ireland.79 Despite protests from Ireland, the Laws of
Settlement remained in place until 1948, when workhouses were ¬nally
closed in Northern Ireland. Palpably, Britain was not home to the Irish
poor, except when their labour was considered useful. That Irish immi-
grants were not at home in Britain was further demonstrated in the

Times, 5 January 1847, 22 September 1847.
For example, Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (Leipzig, 1845;
London, 1892), 934.
For more on this see Liz Curtis, Nothing But The Same Old Story: Roots of Anti-Irish Racism
(London, 1984) and Leslie A. Williams, ed. William H. A. Williams, Daniel O™Connell, the British
Press and the Irish Famine: Killing Remarks (Aldershot, 2003).
Times, quoted in Freeman™s Journal, 4 January 1847.
Quoted in Roger Swift, ˜The Outcast Irish in the British Victorian City: Problems and
Perspectives™, Irish Historical Studies, 25 (99) (1987), 271“2; see also, L. P. Curtis, Apes and Angels:
The Irishmen in Victorian Caricature (London, 1971).
Kinealy, This Great Calamity, 334“7.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 93
debates preceding the introduction of the Second Reform Act of 1867,
during which a central concern was the notion of what constituted British
citizenship and who was deserving of the right to vote. According to
Catherine Hall, race was foregrounded in these debates in order to justify
or deny the right to British identity and citizenship. Irish people did not
bene¬t from this approach as ˜in the imagined nation as it was recon-
stituted in 1867, ˜˜Paddy™™ the racialised Irishman, stood as a potent
˜˜other™™ to the respectable Englishman, who had proven his worth and
deserved the vote™.80 Despite over sixty years of Union, therefore, dis-
cussions about the Irish were still racialised, with their being represented
as different, dangerous and undeserving of political rights. The fact that
the debate coincided with a period of Fenian agitation perpetuated a view
of the Irish as untrustworthy and violent.

imperial nationalism?
Irish nationalism in the early nineteenth century favoured a constitutional
stance, seeking Irish independence within the framework of monarchy
and empire. This approach largely re¬‚ected the views of the moderate
Daniel O™Connell, who was opposed to physical force, arguing that only
constitutional means should be used to gain justice for Ireland. O™Con-
nell™s success in winning Catholic Emancipation in 1829, using only
peaceful tactics, was a psychological blow for the British state and resulted
in Robert Peel losing his parliamentary seat. More generally, O™Connell™s
achievement was applauded by Catholics and political activists in both
Europe and the Empire. Just as the American Revolution had done in the
1770s, it demonstrated that British imperialism was not invincible.
O™Connell initially desired a repeal of the Act of Union, but between 1832
and 1840, he argued for more integration with Britain as an alternative to
independence, informing the House of Commons in 1832 that:
The people of Ireland are ready to become a portion of the Empire, provided
they be made so in reality and not in name alone; they are ready to become a
kind of West Briton if made so in bene¬ts and in justice; but if not, we are
Irishmen again.81
In 1840, disappointed with the actions of successive British govern-
ments, O™Connell returned to demanding repeal. The title of his new
Catherine Hall, in Catherine Hall, Keith McClelland and Jane Rendall, De¬ning the Victorian
Nation: Class, Race, Gender and the British Reform Act of 1867 (Cambridge, 2000), 220.
Quoted in Liz Curtis, The Cause of Ireland (Belfast, 1994), 32.
association “ the Loyal National Repeal Association “ re¬‚ected the
paradox of O™Connell™s nationalism; he wanted independence for Ireland,
but within an imperial context and while maintaining allegiance to the
throne. O™Connell was not alone in having this limited view of Irish
independence. William Smith O™Brien, a Protestant landlord and leader
of the 1848 rebellion, saw no contradiction in desiring the Act of Union to
be overturned, while simultaneously supporting the Empire and mon-
archy.82 He also advocated more Irish emigration to the British colonies.83
Nonetheless, the agitation for repeal after 1840 worried the British gov-
ernment because of its implications for the Empire. The Premier, Robert
Peel, warned the House of Commons in 1843:
There is no in¬‚uence, no power, no authority which the prerogatives of the crown
and the existing law give to the government, which shall not be exercised for the
purpose of maintaining the union; the dissolution of which would involve not
merely the repeal of an act of parliament, but the dismemberment of this great
empire . . . Deprecating as I do all war, but above all civil war, yet there is no
alternative which I do not think preferable to the dismemberment of this empire.84
Peel placed Ireland at the heart of the Empire, reasoning that if the
demand for Irish independence was successful, there would be repercus-
sions elsewhere. Sir James Graham, Home Secretary under Peel, was also
alarmed at the spread of the repeal movement, but he regarded it as the
failure of administrations since the passage of the Union to raise Ireland
above the status of a colony. He believed that the country was only gov-
erned by force, and that without a strong military presence, it would be
ungovernable.85 In October 1843, he warned the Prime Minister:
An insurrection may be subdued by the sword; but a military government and
free institutions cannot permanently coexist; and Ireland must at last be treated
as a rebellious colony, or reconciled to Great Britain on terms which will
command the hearts and the affections of her people.86
Response to the Great Famine divided nationalist opinion in Ireland, with
many radicals viewing the tragedy as a failure of British rule. However,
it was the French Revolution of February 1848 that both radicalised
In 1830 Smith O™Brien published ˜Considerations Relative to the East India Company™s Charter™
(London, 1830). He was a founder member of Edward Gibbon Wake¬eld™s ˜National Colonization
Richard Davis, Revolutionary Imperialist: William Smith O™Brien 1803“1864 (Dublin, 1998), 131“5.

The title of this book reveals much about O™Brien™s political stance.
Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister, to House of Commons, Hansard, 9 May 1841.
Sir James Graham to Peel, 17 October 1843, Charles Stuart Parker, Sir Robert Peel from his Private
Papers (London, 1899), 64.
Ibid., Sir James Graham to Peel, 20 October 1843, 65.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 95
nationalist politics and moved Young Ireland from simply wanting a repeal
of the Act of Union, to demanding a republic, thus ending the union with
Britain. The resulting uprising took place in July 1848 in County Tipperary
and was easily defeated by a small force of Irish constabulary. For a brief
period, however, in the spring and early summer of 1848, British Chartists
and Irish Repealers worked together in support of Irish independence “ an
alliance that worried the British state, which preferred to isolate Irish
national demands as unrealistic and unnecessary.87 The 1848 uprising had
important long-term consequences. After 1848, Irish nationalism increas-
ingly ˜de¬ned itself in opposition to British political culture and customs™.88
John Belchem has suggested that in response, ˜The volume and nature of
anti-Irish propaganda underwent signi¬cant change once the events of 1848
demonstrated Irish ˜˜apartness™™. Paddy appeared in new and defamatory
guise, denied his former benign and redeeming qualities.™ This prejudice
fed into the emergence of popular Toryism in Britain.89 Nor was this
revised view of the Irish con¬ned to Britain as ˜On both sides of the
Atlantic, 1848 proved an important point of closure. . . . Through the
misperceptions of 1848, the ˜˜outcast™™ Irish were deemed incapable of
political and cultural conformity.™90
Nonetheless, many Home Rulers, who dominated Irish nationalist
politics from 1870 to 1916, were ˜strongly imperial in sentiment™.91 Over-
whelmingly, they were concerned with gaining internal self-government
rather than challenging the existence of the British Empire. When they
engaged with the wider imperial relationship, the contradictions of the
nationalist position became manifest. This was evident during the Boer
War of 1899, when many militant nationalists supported the Boers and an
Irish Brigade of 300 men fought on their side.92 Constitutional nationalists,
however, supported the war and approximately 25,000 Irish-born men
fought on the British side. But even among militant Irish nationalists, there
was little sympathy for the colonised black population of South Africa:
rather, it was an attempt to ¬ght against Britain.93 It was not until the
early twentieth century that the next phase of militant nationalism, often

See John Saville, 1848: The British State and the Chartist Movement (Cambridge, 1990).
Brewster et al., ˜Introduction™, in Ireland in Proximity, 3.
John Belchem, ˜Nationalism, Republicanism and Exile: Irish Emigrants and the Revolution of
1848™, Past and Present, 146 (February 1995), 103“35.
Ibid., 135.
T. G. Fraser, ˜Ireland and India™, in Jeffery (ed.), An Irish Empire, 85.
Donal P. McCracken, ˜MacBride™s Brigade in the Anglo-Boer War™, History Ireland, 8 (1) (Spring
2000), 26“9.
Howe, Ireland and Empire, 56“8.
associated with Sinn Fein, adopted a separatist and anti-imperialist posi-
tion. This stance may have been to counter the Unionist claim that Home
Rule was not merely an attack on the United Kingdom, but also on the
Empire. Unionists were encouraged by some Conservative politicians,
Andrew Bonar Law telling a meeting in Derry in 1912 that ˜Once more you
hold the pass for the Empire, you are a besieged city.™94
Within Ireland, non-sectarian, inclusive politics were undermined by
the cultural revival at the end of the nineteenth century, largely por-
traying Irish culture as Gaelic and Catholic, thus excluding Protestant
history and heritage. This development was particularly ironic as many of
the principal writers of that period were Protestant and wrote in the
English language. The movement rejected symbols of British culture,
including sport, through the anti-English Gaelic Athletic Association.
Paradoxically, at the same time that Gaelic culture was being promoted in
Ireland, Irish artists were ˜conquering™ England, notably in the ¬elds of
visual arts and literature.95
The First World War was a watershed in Anglo-Irish relations. In the
1918 General Election, Sinn Fein won 73 out of 105 seats in Westminster.
However, its members refused to take their parliamentary seats or to
swear an oath of allegiance to the British monarch. The emergence of
Sinn Fein as the largest political party in Ireland was an indication that
Irish nationalism was no longer content to be part of empire. The
decision by the British government in 1920 to partition Ireland con¬rmed
that the Union had failed and that the majority of Irish people had been
neither assimilated nor integrated into the United Kingdom.

an irish empire?
Through emigration, transportation and missionary activities there was
an Irish presence in all parts of the Empire while, ˜as part of the
metropolitan core of the Empire, [they] supplied many of its soldiers,
settlers, administrators™, demonstrating the ¬‚uidity of home and
empire.96 The Irish contribution to the Empire left a visible and enduring
legacy, in the roads, bridges and buildings that they helped to design and
construct. Irish men were particularly evident in the military sphere. By
1830, approximately 40 per cent of non-commissioned members of the
Quoted in David H. Hume, ˜Empire Day in Ireland™, in Jeffery, An Irish Empire, 155.
˜Conquering England: Ireland in Victorian Britain™ was an exhibition at the National Portrait
Gallery curated by Fintan Cullen and R. F. Foster, March to June 2005.
Jeffery, ˜Introduction™, in An Irish Empire, 1.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 97
British Army were Irish-born. Ireland also supplied the Empire with some
of its leading imperial soldiers (from the Duke of Wellington to Lord
Kitchener). Consequently, while parts of Ireland remained the most
policed areas within the Empire, Irish soldiers and administrators were
helping to extend and maintain order throughout the rest of it. The com-
bination of imperial soldier and defender of the Union was embodied by
Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, from County Longford. A veteran of the
Boer War, in 1918 he was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff. He
was dismayed by Lloyd George™s negotiations with Sinn Fein in 1921, cau-
tioning that ˜the surrender to the murder gang in Ireland is going to have a
deplorable and very immediate effect on Palestine, Egypt and India™.97
Ireland™s presence in the Empire also resulted from mass emigration.
According to Donald Akenson, Irish emigrants represented ˜ideal pre-
fabricated collaborators™ who were well placed to support the Empire.98
However, the vast majority of Irish emigrants did not settle in the
Empire, despite the economic opportunities available: between 1840 and
1920 over 80 per cent of Irish emigrants chose the United States as their
new home. Moreover, wherever they settled, Irish immigrants were active
participants in labour and radical movements, suggesting that their
sympathy was not always with the imperial administrations. Inevitably,
nationalist politics were transported overseas, most notably in the post-
Famine generations that blamed Britain for their exile.99

end of empire?
Ireland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries occupied an
important middle place in terms of metropole and empire. Conse-
quently, Ireland challenges simplistic de¬nitions of the wider colonial
experience. At the same time, it enriches an understanding of the
British state as an imperial legislature. Historically, Ireland provided a
prism “ albeit a dangerous one “ through which radicals and dis-
sidents in other parts of the Empire judged the British state. One
manifestation of this relationship was the informal links created in the
component parts of the Empire, sometimes bypassing the metropole,
which were particularly uncomfortable for the London administration.100
Mark Coulter, ˜Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: Imperial Soldier, Political Failure™, History
Ireland, 13 (1) (January/February 2005), 26“9.
Jeffery, ˜Introduction™, in An Irish Empire, 16.
This tradition is kept alive by songs such as ˜Revenge for Skibbereen™.
H. Brasted, ˜Indian Nationalist Development and the In¬‚uence of Irish Home Rule, 1870“1886™,
Modern Asian Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 22 (1977), 66“89.
The creation of the United Kingdom brought the Irish national question
to the heart of Westminster politics, destroying the career of some
politicians in the process. It also shaped and ultimately contributed to the
destruction of the Liberal Party, thus helping to pave the way for the
emergence of the Labour Party.
The changing view of Irish people towards both the Union and the
Empire bequeathed a visible outlet in the erection of statues in Ireland,
which re¬‚ected the changing political and cultural relationship with
Britain, and thus changed from signs of loyalty to sites of contestation.101
Yvonne Whelan contests that ˜far from possessing a linear historical
narrative of uncritical colonial discourse, Ireland™s status as a colony was
ambivalent and signi¬cantly different from for example, Calcutta, its
counterpart capital of the British Indian empire™.102 After 1921, statues of
British monarchs and heroes in Ireland ˜functioned not just as works of
art but as constant reminders of Ireland™s colonial connection with
Britain™.103 Not surprisingly, the fate of most statues in the Republic was
either to be blown up by dissident groups (as with statues of William of
Orange in 1929, George II in 1937, Lord Gough in 1955 and Nelson™s
Pillar in 1966) or sold, as happened with George I™s statue in 1928. Queen
Victoria™s statue, however, was ˜donated™ to Australia in 1986.104 Overall,
the fate of these statues indicated that the new Irish Republic wanted to
disassociate itself from its imperial past.
In contrast, the Northern Ireland state held on to symbols of the
imperial past, although they were increasingly disliked by the nationalist
community. In 1922, the identity of the new Northern Ireland state was
explained by the Minister for Finance, thus:
We regard Ulster today as the key-stone of the arch of the British Empire
. . . Ulster has been selected as the cock-pit of strife by those whose object is the
Destruction of the Empire, rather than the mere acquisition of Ulster. Here in
this province the whole principle of Empire is at stake; we the people of Ulster
are the children of the Empire.105

Y. Whelan, ˜The Construction and Destruction of a Colonial Landscape: Monuments to British
Monarchs in Dublin Before and After Independence™, Journal of Historical Geography, 28 (4)
(2002), 508“33.
Ibid., 510, 523“8.
˜How the Indian Wolf Met Dingo™ at http://web.mid-day.com/smd/play/2004/june/85015.htm
and ˜Queen Victoria Building™, Sydney at http://www.10bestcityguides.com/details.process. Cork
Examiner, 14 June 1995 and Eileen Black, Universitas: An Exhibition Celebrating 150 Years of
University College, Cork (Belfast, 1995). William of Orange™s statue was replaced by Thomas
Davis, a Protestant nationalist.
Quoted in D. Hume, ˜Empire Day in Northern Ireland™, in Jeffery, An Irish Empire, 159.
At home with Empire: the example of Ireland 99
Empire Day, which fell on 24 May, continued to be celebrated in
Protestant schools in Northern Ireland until the early 1960s.106 Addi-
tionally, monuments and murals dedicated to the two world wars became
symbols of Protestant loyalty to king and empire. However, the demise of
empire forced Unionists to ¬nd other ways of de¬ning their relationship
with Britain and their identity.107 Queen Victoria, the embodiment of
empire, remained particularly visible in many public spaces in Northern
Ireland, with numerous streets, a park, a bridge and a university being
named after her, and her statue dominating the entrance to the City Hall
in Belfast.108 Nonetheless, the place of empire was being increasingly
contested. In 2000, when the Belfast City Council attempted to relocate a
small statue of Victoria to a public park, it was opposed by a Sinn Fein
councillor, who argued:
There are more than enough monuments to our colonial past. Queen Victoria
was known as the famine queen who was responsible for the deaths of millions of
Irish people. We should be remembering the victims of the famine and not the
person responsible for the deaths. Nationalists will ¬nd this offensive. It is a
Unionist symbol in a predominantly nationalist area.
Wallace Browne, a Democratic Unionist Party Councillor, responded
that, ˜The British way of life is part of our culture. We are part of the
United Kingdom and Queen Victoria is an important part of our British
tradition.™109 Fifty years after the demise of the British Empire, its visible
remains continue to cause dissent in Ireland.

One hundred years of union with Britain and participation in the
imperial parliament brought few tangible bene¬ts to Ireland. The Union
did not bring prosperity or save the country from a devastating famine
and a dramatic decline in its population. At the time of the Union,
Ireland had accounted for 50 per cent of the population of the United
Kingdom; a hundred years later, it represented less than 10 per cent. In
the two centuries after the Union, emigration became an integral part of
Irish life. While the vast majority of emigrants went to the United States,
large numbers settled in other parts of the Empire, notably Australia,
Canada and New Zealand, helping to shape the development of those
106 107
Ibid., 153. For information on First World War murals, see http://cain.ulst.ac.uk.
See website of John Cassidy, sculptor, at http://rylibweb.man.ac.uk. And website of Northern
Ireland Tourist Board at http://www.geographia.com/northern-ireland.
Irish News, 19 August 2000, http://www.irishnews.com/archive2000/19082000/Politics7.html.
countries. Within Britain, however, Irish people never achieved equal
status, but remained ˜other™, despite being both white and British citizens.
The Union did not give political stability to Ireland, but it exacerbated
religious divisions. A consequence was the Partition, which created a
political fracturing that continued 100 years later. Although Northern
Ireland remained within the United Kingdom after 1921, British gov-
ernment intervention was minimal. After 1969, however, they were forced
to intercede in a way that suggested that the state had failed. Moreover,
the unequal relationship between Britain and Northern Ireland raised the
unpalatable question of whether this part of Ireland was still a colony.
The imposition of Direct Rule from London in 1972 highlighted
Northern Ireland™s ambivalent status, leading John Biggs-Davidson, a
Conservative politician, to protest, arguing, ˜Northern Ireland is part of
the Homeland, not a colony . . . The effective powers of the new Irish
Secretary exceed those of the Lord Deputies, Viceroys and Irish Secre-
taries of the past.™110 More vehemently, writing in 1994, Anne McClintock
suggested that the debates about Ireland™s colonial situation, and the
refusal to acknowledge its postcolonial status, arose because:
The term ˜postcolonial™ is, in many cases, prematurely celebratory. Ireland may,
at a pinch, be ˜postcolonial™, but for the inhabitants of British-occupied
Northern Ireland . . . there might be nothing ˜post™ about colonialism at all.111
At the beginning of the twenty-¬rst century, the Celtic Tiger, the Peace
Process and the Irish cultural revival have changed the way in which
Ireland and Irish people are viewed in Britain. However, Irish and British
politics remain intertwined, demonstrating that the colonial past con-
tinues to shape the political present.
John Biggs-Davidson, Rock Firm for the Union: Background to the Ulster Troubles 1969“1978 (Essex,

1979), 31“2.
Anne McClintock, ˜The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ˜˜postcolonialism™™ ™, in P.
Williams and L. Chrisman (eds.), Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory (New York, 1994),
c h ap ter f i ve

The condition of women, women™s writing and
the Empire in nineteenth-century Britain
Jane Rendall 1

In 1814 Maria Graham lamented the lack of ˜mutual understanding and
mutual knowledge™ between the European residents and the indigenous
inhabitants of India, and hoped to ¬ll that gap with a popular introduction
to Indian history, literature, science, religions and manners.2 She had sailed
to India in 1809, and on her return published her Journal of a Residence in
India (1812) and Letters on India (1814). In 1814 she looked back at the
Journal as ˜liable to the reproach of European prejudice™.3 She had been
shocked to ¬nd ˜Mussulman ladies . . . so totally void of cultivation™, and
Hindus characterised by ˜passive submission . . . apathy and . . . degrading
superstition™.4 But in the Letters, she used the language of eighteenth-
century stadial theory, assuming a hierarchy of stages of development, and
the tone was more informed, comparative and philosophical. She found in
ancient Hindu civilisation ˜the maxims of that pure and sound morality
which is founded on the nature of man as a rational and social being™. She
expressed her greatest delight in the Mahabharata as ˜the pleasing light in
which it places the early condition of the Hindu women, before the jealous
Mahomedan maxims had shut them up in zenanas™.5
Graham was only the third British woman to publish her observations
on India, and her work had a mixed reception in Britain.6 The Journal was
praised by the Monthly Magazine, the Critical Review and the Monthly

Acknowledgements: thanks to Rosemary Raza for permission to cite her thesis, and to Rosemary
Raza, Caroline Lewis and the editors of this volume for their careful reading of this article.
Letters on India (London, 1814), 2; on Graham see Rosamund Gotch, Maria Lady Callcott: The
Creator of Little Arthur (London, 1937); Nigel Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing,
1770“1840 (Oxford, 2002), 205“17.
Graham, Letters, 85.
Maria Graham, Journal of a Residence in India (Edinburgh, 1812), 18, 134.
Graham, Letters, 36, 87.
Her predecessors were Jane Smart, Letter from a Lady in Madrass to Her Friends in London . . .

(London, 1743) and Jemima Kindersley, Letters from Teneriffe, Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope, and
the East Indies (London, 1777); see Rosemary Raza, ˜British Women Writers on India between the
Eighteenth Century and 1857™, DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 1998, 455.

Review, yet went unnoticed in the in¬‚uential Edinburgh Review, although
its editor, Francis Jeffrey, had urged her to publish. The conservative
Quarterly Review noted the Journal condescendingly as the work of a young
lady who went to India to ¬nd a husband, and ignored the Letters.7
In 1820 Graham sailed with her husband to South America. Mary Louise
Pratt has written of her journals of these years as by a ˜social exploratress™,
constantly commenting on social and reforming institutions and political
con¬‚icts.8 Yet Maria Graham™s most popular work, published under the
name of Maria Callcott, was Little Arthur™s History of England (1835), a
patriotic history for children, which sold 80,000 copies in the course of
the next century. Nowhere did it acknowledge the imperial dimensions of
English, or British, power. Graham was a sharp and intelligent observer,
who had challenged the limits of women™s writing on the Empire. Her shift
by the 1830s re¬‚ected the invisibility of the Empire in British historical
thinking. Yet in representing India to a British readership, ambitiously,
re¬‚ectively, and clearly from a female perspective, she indicated new pos-
sibilities for women™s writing. Those new possibilities were inseparable
from the observation of culturally diverse gender relations, and conse-
quently from the debate about gender relations at home.
Maria Graham™s writings raise issues relevant to the impact of Britain™s
imperial role on discourses of femininity in nineteenth-century Britain.
First, she wrote in the immediate context of the global con¬‚icts of
1793“1815. Much recent work has been done on the gendered nature of
eighteenth-century British imperialism, as on nineteenth-century anti-
slavery and missionary movements, and late nineteenth-century imperial-
ism.9 Yet the signi¬cance in terms of gender relations of the extensive early
nineteenth-century territorial expansion of the Empire, simultaneously with
the rapid growth of commercial activity and missionary commitment,
remains to be examined. In Britons (1992), Linda Colley suggested the growth
of a British national consciousness, and the agency of middle-class women as
patriots in these years, though referring only brie¬‚y to the extent of British
imperial acquisitions. Elsewhere she recognised the ambiguous situation of
Ireland, as ˜the laboratory of the British empire™; in what follows, Ireland™s
semi-colonial status following the Act of Union of 1801 will be assumed.10
Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 406; Monthly Magazine, 34 (1812), 632“50; Critical Review, 3
(April 1813), 337“46; Monthly Review, 77 (1815), 258“71; Maria Graham to unknown
correspondent, 28 March 1812, National Library of Scotland MS 3610 f. 46.
Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London, 1992), 155“71.
See Introduction, Chapter 1.
Colley, ˜Britishness and Otherness: An Argument™, Journal of British Studies, 31 (1992), 309“30,
here 327.
The condition of women 103
Secondly, Graham™s writing suggests the gendered nature of repre-
sentations of social, cultural and religious differences. The stadial theory
of the Scottish Enlightenment, constructing a hierarchy of four stages of
civilisation “ nomadic (or ˜savage™), pastoral (or ˜barbarian™), agricultural
and commercial “ de¬ned by their material condition but also by their
manners, culture and political structures, was immensely in¬‚uential. That
framework legitimated British cultural superiority, and provided a way of
classifying the variety of societies encountered in British imperial
expansion.11 A hierarchy of gender relations was at its heart. William
Alexander wrote that the condition of women in any country indicated
˜the exact point in the scale of civil society to which the people of such
country have arrived™.12 These writers used ¬gures of womanhood to
differentiate from savage, or barbarian, or despotic societies, that polite
and re¬ned form of domesticity, the companionate marriage, to which
they themselves aspired. William Robertson, writing of the drudgery of
the Native American woman in North America suggested that ˜to despise
and to degrade the female sex, is the characteristic of the savage state in
every part of the globe™.13 They also employed orientalist tropes, following
Montesquieu, in paralleling political despotism in the East with the
despotism of the harem and polygamy.14
There were clearly connections between that vocabulary and the dif-
ferent explanations offered for the physical varieties of humanity: culture,
climate, polygenesis. Even within the prevalent view that humanity
constituted one species, the idea of a hierarchy of races within that species
was becoming accepted. By the end of the eighteenth century the use of
the language of ¬xed racial difference was increasing, although coexisting
with emphases on climatic, material and cultural in¬‚uences. Whichever
perspective was taken, such language was gendered; women were regarded
as contributing to the physical shaping of races, through their nursing
practices and the form which sexual relationships took.15

Christopher Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 1780“1830 (London, 1989),

William Alexander, The History of Women, From the Earliest Antiquity to the Present Time, 2 vols.
(1782 edn, repr. Bath, 1995), vol. II, 151.
William Robertson, History of America (1777), in The Works of William Robertson DD, 12 vols.
(London, 1817), vol. IV, 103.
Ibid., 225; Alexander, History of Women, vol. I, 284“97; Pauline Kra, ˜Montesquieu and Women™,
in Samia Spencer (ed.), French Women and the Age of Enlightenment (Bloomington, 1984), 272“84.
Roxanne Wheeler, The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British
Culture (Philadelphia, 2000), 248“50; Silvia Sebastiani, ˜˜˜Race™™, Women and Progress in the
Scottish Enlightenment™, in Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (eds.), Women, Gender and
Enlightenment (London, 2005), 75“96.
These representations were part of the construction of white British
middle-class femininity in the early nineteenth century. From the mid-
1770s onwards, representations of savage and ˜Eastern™ women were used to
signal the superiority of white British femininity by differentiating it from
its ˜others™ in the prescriptive literature addressed to young women.16 But
in Catherine Macaulay™s Letters on Education (1790) and Mary Woll-
stonecraft™s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1791), these images were
employed with a feminist purpose, with the harem coming to symbolise
the tyrannical oppression of women. As Joyce Zonona suggests, these
tropes were already ˜a fully developed cultural code implicitly shared with
their readers™, a code which for Macaulay and Wollstonecraft marked the
distance which British civilisation still had to travel.17
In the early nineteenth century, the appeal of comparative history was
declining. The reaction against the radicalism of the French Revolution,
the growing strength of evangelical religious practice and the distinctive
aspirations of the middling sections of society, all appeared to strengthen
the assumption that the domestic household should be viewed as the
natural and divinely ordained setting for women™s lives. Discourses of
domesticity can be read as con¬ning, in that they regulated gender
relations along ¬xed lines. Yet they could also enable middle-class
women™s moral and social in¬‚uence, through participation in the moral
life of the household, the exercise of sociability, and the growth of reli-
gious and philanthropic activity.
The growth of the apparently con¬ning language of ˜separate spheres™
has to be considered in the context of the massive expansion of print
culture, in which women shared both as readers and as writers. Women™s
reading was, commercially, highly signi¬cant, yet the ¬gure of the female
reader was a focus for anxiety and surveillance, signalled both in literary
representations of women™s reading, and in advice manuals on the
appropriate kinds of reading. That anxiety recognised the signi¬cance of
reading as shaping subjectivities and as a means of socialisation, whether
through the imaginative ful¬lment of desire or as the act through which
one might become part of a wider community. As Kate Flint indicates,
reading could be an act of conformity or of questioning.18
Mary Catherine Moran, ˜From Rudeness to Re¬nement: Gender, Genre and Scottish
Enlightenment Discourse™, PhD dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 1999, 234“43.
Joyce Zonona, ˜The Sultan and the Slave: Feminist Orientalism and the Structure of Jane Eyre™,
Signs, 18 (1993), 592“617; Clare Midgley, ˜Anti-slavery and the Roots of Imperial Feminism™, in
Midgley (ed.), Gender and Imperialism (Manchester, 1998), 161“80.
Kate Flint, The Woman Reader 1837“1914 (Oxford, 1993), 38“43; Jacqueline Pearson, Women™s

Reading in Britain 1750“1835: A Dangerous Recreation (Cambridge, 1999), 14“21.
The condition of women 105
Women were of course not only readers but also writers, although their
scope was limited by the genres deemed appropriate for them. The gen-
dered boundaries of genre were increasingly patrolled by such shapers
of cultural opinion as the editors of the in¬‚uential periodicals founded in
this period, including the Edinburgh Review and the Quarterly Review.
While poetry, the novel and the moral tale were recognised as appropriate
¬elds for women writers, there were clear limits to women™s writing about
the directly political. The Quarterly Review rebuked Graham in 1824 for not
realising that ˜she was unquali¬ed to write political disquisitions on Brazil™.19
Yet such constraints could be evaded and the most apparently limited
horizon extended to the reading and writing of the colonial experience. In
January 1813, Jane Austen™s reading, shared with her mother and the local
Chawton book club, included Sir John Carr™s Descriptive Travels in the
Southern and Eastern Parts of Spain (1811) and Charles Pasley™s Essay on
the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810). These
she compared with Thomas Clarkson™s History . . . of the Abolition of
the African Slave Trade . . . (1808) and Claudius Buchanan™s Christian
Researches in Asia (1811). Others might have encountered Carr™s Travels
and Buchanan™s Christian Researches through extracts in the Lady™s
Magazine for 1811.20 For the literatures of war and empire, travel and
mission, appear in the everyday reading of literate women, not only in
literature and periodicals for the general reader but in those addressed
speci¬cally to them.21
Women writers and readers responded to the growth of a new terri-
torial empire through a variety of discourses: a patriotic understanding of
imperial destiny, an emphasis on the mission of Christian civilisation, a
vision of an empire of commerce and exchange, or one of potential
opportunity for both philanthropists and emigrants. Such responses were
not merely passive, as empire came to be a constitutive element in the
rewriting of nineteenth-century femininity and feminism. As Cora
Kaplan indicates below, postcolonial criticism has re-read canonical
novels such as Mans¬eld Park (1814) and Jane Eyre (1847) as colonial
encounters, yet these still remain to be located in the broader context of
women™s reading and writing practices.

William Jacob, ˜Travels to Brazil™, Quarterly Review, 31 (December 1824), 1“25, here 14.
Jane Austen, Selected Letters, ed. Vivien Jones (Oxford, 2004), 133, quoted in Vivien Jones,
˜Reading for England: Austen, Taste and Female Patriotism™, European Romantic Review, 16 (April
2005), 223“32.
See David Finkelstein and Douglas M. Peers, ˜Introduction™, to Finkelstein and Peers (eds.),
Negotiating India in the Nineteenth-Century Media (Basingstoke, 2000), 1“22.
Writing about empire employed overlapping discourses about gender,
cultural difference and race, inextricably involved in the imaginative
construction of gender identities which were also imperial identities.
References to the ˜savage™ or the ˜Eastern™ woman were not necessarily
explicitly directed towards British imperial territories. But they gradually
took on a more immediate relevance in the expanding territories of the
British Empire. A culturally superior femininity entrenched in women™s
domestic power and moral in¬‚uence would work for the bene¬t of the
Empire. A recurrent theme is that of British women™s mission, and
sacri¬ce of self, in the cause of the civilisation of the ˜savage™, ˜barbarian™
and unenlightened societies which Britain ruled.22 Such sacri¬ce might
demand new kinds of discipline, courage and authority from women,
qualities also needed at home in the simultaneous mission to the British
working class.
In what follows I focus mainly on white women who wrote for a white
readership, though the former black slave Mary Prince also appears, as does
Mrs Meer Hassan Ali, a white woman married to a Muslim man from
Lucknow. These women drew upon the hierarchies of culture and race, as
well as class, in developing their own varied “ never monolithic “ discourses
of femininity and women™s roles. If they assumed the bene¬ts of white
British ˜civilisation™, their interpretations of that might vary sharply. In the
early years of the nineteenth century most limited themselves to approved
genres, including imaginative writing, educational treatises, moral tales and
missionary discourses. An increasing number, like Graham, published
journals of their travels and a few others engaged directly with political
issues through journalism and history.
Even at the beginning of this period, women writers debated the future
of the British Empire, in poetry and the novel. Exceptionally, Anna
Barbauld, in 1812, anticipated ¬rst the spread of British cultural imperi-
alism, and then its decline and collapse. She addressed ˜my Country,
name beloved, revered™:
Wide spreads thy race, from Ganges to the pole,
O™er half the western world thy accents roll. . . .
Thy stores of knowledge the new states shall know
And think thy thoughts, and with thy fancy glow;
In the Empire™s days of glory, she forecast in the streets of London the
˜turban™d Moslem, bearded Jew / And woolly Afric, met the brown
Hindu™. But ˜arts, arms and wealth destroy the fruit they bring™, and the
Deirdre David, Rule Britannia: Women, Empire and Victorian Writing (Ithaca, 1995), 5“7.
The condition of women 107
future lay with the North American empire. Reviewers, almost unan-
imously, found the poem ˜culpably subversive of national morale™.23 Anne
Grant™s lengthy poetic response Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen (1814)
celebrated Britain™s victory and Britain™s empire in nationalist terms.24
The most popular female poet of the early nineteenth century, Felicia
Hemans, whose immense success is today forgotten, wrote of the cen-
trality of domestic affections to national unity and to an imperial future.
She appealed to chivalric themes across a variety of historical and geo-
graphical settings and themes, including war, politics and murder as well
as the celebration of home and the domestic affections. She has been
viewed as ˜the undisputed representative poet of Victorian imperial and
domestic ideology™.25 Modern criticism suggests a more ambivalent view
of her poetry, not as simply glorifying the expansion of nation and
empire, but as recognising the con¬‚ict and suffering it brought.26
Women writers explored the revaluation of the private and the
domestic, in the national interest and in ful¬lment of an imperial destiny,
from the 1790s onwards through the novel. Their contribution in
representing national cultures within the British isles has been widely
recognised, but the novel was also a means of imagining and debating the
British Empire; Balachandra Rajan suggests that ˜the novel about India
was originated by women™.27 For the Scottish writer Elizabeth Hamilton,
that empire was to be a Christian one. Her mildly anti-Jacobin novel,
Translation of the Letters of the Hindoo Rajah (1796), drew on the writing
of her brother Charles, an East India Company of¬cer and a scholar of
Indian languages and history. She represented a feminised version of
Hindu India sympathetically, as an ancient civilisation overrun by tyr-
annical Muslim invaders. In The Memoirs of Agrippina (1804), Hamilton
wrote of the weaknesses of the Roman Empire, its arrogance and reli-
ance on the system of slavery. Only a Christian empire could overcome

Anna Letitia Barbauld, ˜Eighteen Hundred and Eleven™, in William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft
(eds.), The Poems of Anna Letitia Barbauld (Athens, 1994), 155, 157, 160“1, 310 quoted in Tim
Fulford and Peter J. Kitson, ˜Romanticism and Colonialism: Texts, Contexts, Issues™, in Fulford
and Kitson (eds.), Romanticism and Colonialism: Writing and Empire 1780“1830 (Cambridge, 1998),
4“5, 7.
Anne Grant, Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen (Edinburgh, 1814).
Norma Clarke, Ambitious Heights “ Writing, Friendship, Love: The Jewsbury Sisters, Felicia Hemans
and Jane Carlyle (London, 1990), 45; Kelly, Women, Writing and Revolution, 183“9.
Susan J. Wolfson, ˜Introduction™ to Felicia Hemans: Selected Poems, Letters, Reception Materials
(Princeton, 2000).
Balachandra Rajan, Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay (Durham, NC, 1999), 123;
Kelly, Women, Writing and Revolution, 173“91. For a list of British women™s novels of India, see
Raza, ˜British Women Writers on India™, 465.
differences of culture and race, as it assumed the mission of benevolence
and enlightenment.28
Women also wrote as educationalists, whether directly on the philo-
sophy and practice of education, or through the didactic moral tale.
Hamilton was committed to improving the educational practice of
mothers, by drawing on the insights of both philosophers and historians.
In the 1810 edition of her Letters on the Elementary Principles of Education
she wrote of a mother™s role in shaping the national character, arguing
that women™s powers were capable of developing to meet the maternal
responsibilities of every stage of society. In her view, it was the task of
the Christian and the patriot, to raise the female mind to a sense of the dignity
of a situation, which enables it not only to effect the happiness or misery
of individuals, but to in¬‚uence the character of nations, and ameliorate the
condition of the human race.29
The most powerful identi¬cation of Christianity with the progress of
civilisation came from the evangelical Christian impulse, which rested upon
a sense of sinfulness, and the possibility of salvation through conversion, and
the disciplining of the self within the community of the family. With that
impulse came a sense of mission and a drive to regenerate and save corrupt
and unchristian worlds, in Britain and beyond. From the 1790s onwards, in
opposition to radical ideas, evangelical writers paid particular attention to the
role of women within British society. The evangelical writer Hannah More
wrote tracts, moral tales and ballads to counter radicalism and effect the moral
reformation of the working population of Britain. But she also stressed the
signi¬cance of women™s role in a new kind of empire. In orientalist terms, she
suggested that the use of women™s in¬‚uence for vanity or pleasure was char-
acteristic of those victims to ˜luxury, caprice and despotism™, excluded from
˜light, and liberty, and knowledge™, by ˜the laws and religion of the voluptuous
prophet of Arabia™. She called on women of the upper and middle classes
to demonstrate a ˜¬rm and feminine patriotism™, and contrasted the pagan
Roman Empire and a modern British empire distinguished by Christian
humility, as well as by Christian refusal to coexist with other faiths.30
From the 1790s onwards, the number of missionary societies associated
with the evangelical movement grew steadily across Protestant denominations.

Elizabeth Hamilton, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah, ed. Pamela Perkins and Shannon
Russell (Peterborough, ON, 1999); Kelly, Women, Writing and Revolution, 129“43, 269“73; Rajan,
Under Western Eyes, 124“8.
Letters on the Elementary Principles of Education, 5th edn, 2 vols. (London, 1810), vol. I, 2“9, 21.
Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education . . . , 2 vols. (London, 1799),

vol. I, 3, 77“8, 251“2.
The condition of women 109
Susan Thorne has shown how central was the missionary enterprise to the
formation of middle-class identity in Britain. Its objects included the
conversion and moral reform of indigenous peoples in colonised terri-
tories, of the Irish peasantry and of the ˜heathen™ working class at home.31
Gender was central to this enterprise, as the happy condition and moral
in¬‚uence of the domestic and monogamous woman was contrasted with
the lives of degraded ˜savage™ women or women of the zenanas of India.
Anna Johnston has argued that ˜missionary texts constitute a distinct
genre of missionary discourse, a genre that has an unmistakeable, though
ambivalent, relationship with imperial discourses as a whole™. Such texts
informed the essential support and sponsorship given by mission enth-
usiasts at home.32
Yet the representation of gender presented missionary writers with dif-
¬culties. Most missionaries were male, with women accepted only as their
wives; they encountered in colonial societies very different kinds of gender
relations, and also relied on their wives to take a far greater public role than
might have been expected. The pioneering Hannah Kilham visited the
Gambia in 1822“3, and Sierra Leone in 1827 and 1830“2, against some male
resistance, publishing her letters and reports in the Missionary Register, the
periodical of the Church Missionary Society. But only with the foundation
of the Society for the Promotion of Female Education in the East, in 1834,
were single woman missionaries sent out regularly. The Society™s women
founders responded to a powerful appeal by an American missionary for
missionaries to aid women in China, but immediately decided to extend
their mission to India, where girls™ schools, orphanages and teacher train-
ing, as well as missions to zenanas, became their major concern. By 1838
they also sent teachers and missionaries to South Africa, and from 1853
published the monthly Female Missionary Intelligencer.33
The British domestic audience read of such work through missionary
travel writing, missionary periodicals, exemplary biographies and didactic
tales, produced in great quantity.34 Alison Twells has shown how, in

Susan Thorne, ˜˜˜The Conversion of Englishmen and the Conversion of the World Inseparable™™:
Missionary Imperialism and the Language of Class in Early Industrial Britain™, in Frederick
Cooper and Ann Stoler (eds.), Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley,
1997), 238“62.
Anna Johnston, Missionary Writing and Empire, 1800“1860 (Cambridge, 2003), 202 and passim.

Margaret Donaldson, ˜˜˜The Cultivation of the Heart and the Moulding of the Will . . .™™: The

Missionary Contribution of the Society for Promoting Female Education in China, India and the
East™, in W. J. Sheils and Diana Wood (eds.), Women in the Church, Studies in Church History, 27
(Oxford, 1990), 429“42.
Johnston, Missionary Writing, 32“4.
Shef¬eld, evangelical families read of the voyages of London Missionary
Society missionaries George Bennet and Daniel Tyerman to the South
Paci¬c, New Zealand and elsewhere from 1821 to 1829. Through their
letters, reprinted in the Shef¬eld Iris, and their Voyages and Travels (1831),
the adoption of new patterns of marriage and gender relations in the
South Paci¬c was publicised.35 Families might also read the lives of
exemplary women missionaries like Margaret Wilson or Louisa Mundy in
India, and Margaret Mary Clough in Ceylon, through their letters and
journals, reprinted in periodicals, memoirs or anthologies such as Mary
Weitbrecht™s Female Missionaries in India . . . (1843).36 The central impor-
tance of the mission to Indian women was stressed, as was, by implication,
the inability of male missionaries to undertake the work of education and
visiting the zenanas. These texts created ˜a form of self-writing in which the
woman subject emerged as heroic™.37 They also indicated the strength of
evangelical campaigning on behalf of Indian women, and especially Indian
mothers, and against the practice of sati.38
The same sense of mission could be conveyed through moral tales and
tales for children. The outstanding writer of Indian tales for children was
Mary Sherwood, who accompanied her army of¬cer husband to India
and spent ten years there, greatly in¬‚uenced by the missionary Henry
Martyn. Her stories and tracts included The History of Little Henry and his
Bearer (1814), The Ayah and Lady (1816), The Indian Pilgrim (1818) and
many others. All were reprinted many times, especially for Sunday School
use. Other, less travelled, writers, like the popular Barbara Ho¬‚and,
followed her example in stories of India such as The Young Cadet (1828)
and The Captives in India (1834). And a bestselling family novel by
another immensely popular, if now unread, writer, Charlotte Yonge™s
The Daisy Chain (1856), is pervaded by a similar sense of mission,
Alison Twells, ˜˜˜A Christian and Civilised Land™™: The British Middle Class and the Civilising
Mission, 1820“42™, in Alan Kidd and David Nicholls (eds.), Gender, Civic Culture and
Consumerism: Middle-class Identity in Britain, 1800“1940 (Manchester, 1999), 47“64, and ˜Happy
English Children: Class, Ethnicity and the Making of Missionary Women, 1800“1850™, Women™s
Studies International Forum, 21 (1998), 235“45; for Birmingham, see Catherine Hall, Civilising
Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830“1867 (Cambridge, 2002), 301“6.
Extracts from the Journal and Correspondence of the Late Mrs M. M. Clough, Wife of the Rev.
Benjamin Clough, Missionary in Ceylon (London, 1829); George Mundy, Memoir of Mrs Louisa
Mundy, of the London Missionary Society™s Mission, at Chinsurah, Bengal . . . (London, 1845); John
Wilson (ed.), Memoir of Mrs Margaret Wilson (Edinburgh, 1838).
Linda Peterson, ˜Women Writers and Self-writing™, in Joanne Shattock (ed.), Women and Literature
in Britain 1800“1900 (Cambridge, 2001), 209“30, here 223“4; Johnston, Missionary Writing, 82“3.
Clare Midgley, ˜Female Emancipation in an Imperial Frame: English Women and the Campaign
Against Sati (Widow-burning) in India, 1813“30™, Women™s History Review, 9 (2000), 95“122; Hall,
Civilising Subjects, 303“5.
The condition of women 111
simultaneously to the impoverished local hamlet of Cocksmoor and to
the Loyalty Islands of the South Paci¬c. The heroine, Ethel, sacri¬ced her
own academic ambitions to care for her family and support her brother
Norman, who in turn abandoned his brilliant career to become a mis-
sionary. The pro¬ts of the novel were devoted to building a missionary
college in New Zealand.39
There are close associations between such literature and the anti-slavery
movement in Britain, which was powerfully promoted by women as a
philanthropic mission. From the late 1780s Hannah More, with other
women writers, participated actively in the anti-slavery movement. Their
poetry and tracts frequently foregrounded the slave mother, and the
separation of the slave family, as did More in The Sorrows of Yamba; or, a
Negro Woman™s Lament (1795), and Mary Sherwood in Dazee, The Re-
Captured Negro (1821).40 Barbara Ho¬‚and™s Matilda; or The Barbadoes
Girl (1816) illustrated the corrupting effects of slavery on slaveowners. The
History of Mary Prince (1831), the only autobiographical narrative by a
black woman slave from the West Indies, was published in London
through the agency of Thomas Pringle, secretary of the Anti-Slavery
Society. The product of an unequal collaboration, it was transcribed from
Prince™s dictation by her amanuensis Susanna Strickland, and is a text which
tells the story of a life of cruel suffering, struggle and industry intended to
appeal to an abolitionist readership, yet also including some elements of
Prince™s resistance. In its representation of white slaveowning women it
challenged and confused assumptions about the domestic civility of middle-
class white women in colonial contexts.41 From 1838 the energy of British
women™s abolitionism was to be directed towards North America, but it
remained profoundly in¬‚uential on the growth of British feminism.
The belief in the dynamic force of women™s moral in¬‚uence was to be
widely adapted to the secular purposes of education, philanthropy and
civilisation, at home and overseas. The imperial mission was not always
directly related to the acquisition of territorial power or to conversion.
Civilisation could also be a question of commerce and settlement. The
early nineteenth century saw two major perspectives on the political
Talia Schaffer, ˜Taming the Tropics: Charlotte Yonge takes on Melanesia™, Victorian Studies, 47
(2005), 204“14.
Clare Midgley, Women Against Slavery: The British Campaigns, 1780“1870 (London, 1992), 29“35,

93“103; Moira Ferguson, Subject to Others: British Women Writers and Colonial Slavery, 1670“1834
(London, 1992), 218“20, 249“71.
Gillian Whitlock, The Intimate Empire: Reading Women™s Autobiography (London, 2000), ch. 1;
Moira Ferguson (ed.), The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Narrated by Herself (Ann
Arbor, 1997), Introduction.
economy of empire. One, still following Adam Smith, saw Britain
exercising an informal economic dominance throughout the world,
through industrial strength rather than colonial possessions. The other,
associated with Edward Gibbon Wake¬eld, adapted Malthus™ critique of
industrial expansion and population growth to suggest continuing pros-
perity for Britain would require colonisation and emigration to create
secure markets and outlets for population.
Women writers engaged with these issues, initially mainly through
moral and didactic tales. The writer Mary Leman Grimstone spent four
years from 1826 to 1829 in Tasmania, then Van Dieman™s Land and still a
penal colony.42 In 1832 she wrote of that experience in her short story
˜The Settlers of Van Dieman™s Land™. Her settlers created a new, pros-
perous and ordered estate in a remote area; but the story was about
˜woman™s power and woman™s privilege to put her hand to the moral
regeneration of the world™ as Marion, the heroine, visited the most
degraded convicts, and cared for the child of Alice Brien, transported
from Ireland for a tri¬‚ing theft, degraded and seduced. The child,
Patrick, was to grow up worthy to marry Marion™s own daughter, Lucy.43
In Harriet Martineau™s didactic tales in the Illustrations of Political
Economy (1832“4) she attempted to construct a framework for a progressive
liberal civilisation, and women™s place within it. Following the political
economy of James Mill, she opposed trading monopolies, sympathised
with Wake¬eld™s programme for colonial reform and asserted the civilis-
ing powers of commerce.44 In the early 1830s these principles informed
her didactic ¬ction and here as elsewhere she advocated progressive
improvement through the acquisition of knowledge, by women as well as
men. ˜Homes Abroad™ (1832) traced the improving fortunes of young rural
emigrants to Van Dieman™s Land. Martineau supported well-organised
voluntary, but not penal, emigration, and emphasised the extreme sava-
gery of the indigenous inhabitants.45 In ˜Life in the Wilds™ (1832), she wrote
of a small British settlement in southern Africa, attacked by Bushmen
in an understandable response to colonial brutalities, and reduced ˜from

Michael Roe, ˜Mary Leman Grimstone (1800“1850?): For Women™s Rights and Tasmanian
Patriotism™, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Papers and Proceedings, 36 (March 1989), 9“32.
Grimstone, ˜The Settlers of Van Dieman™s Land™, La Belle Assemblee, 1 n.s. (November 1832), 227“31.
R. K. Webb, Harriet Martineau: A Radical Victorian (London, 1960), 339; Claudia Orazem,
Political Economy and Fiction in the Early Works of Harriet Martineau (Frankfort, 1999), ch. 3;
Catherine Hall, ˜Imperial Careering at Home: Harriet Martineau on Empire™, in Alan Lester and
David Lambert (eds.), Colonial Lives across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long
Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 2006).
Martineau, ˜Homes Abroad™, in Illustrations of Political Economy, 9 vols. (London, 1832), vol. IV.
The condition of women 113
a state of advanced civilisation to a primitive condition™.46 The settlers,
both men and women, used their intellectual capital to establish a suitable
division of labour and generate the economic growth which could justify
imperialism. ˜Ireland™ (1832) illustrated the exploitation of the Irish poor
through the land system, though not by individual landlords, at the same
time as women™s domination by father and husband. The clever young
Dora Sullivan did her best, by leaving school and working, to save her
family from both the disastrous impositions of landlords and the mis-
judgements of her father and husband. Ultimately evicted and charged
with involvement with the Whiteboys, one of many secret societies seeking
to redress rural grievances, she was convicted and transported. Here
Martineau stressed the need for economic growth through agricultural
improvement, eliminating political and religious grievances, reducing
population through emigration, and, most permanently, education. Dora
embodied the possibility of such changes.47
In the 1840s and 1850s, in radical periodicals like the People™s Journal
and Eliza Cook™s Journal, Mary Leman Grimstone and Eliza Meteyard
appealed to artisan family values and discussed women™s work and
responsibilities. In 1846“7, Grimstone, by then an Owenite and a fem-
inist, reprinted her ˜Settlers of Van Dieman™s Land™ in the People™s
Journal, with other tales of Tasmania, ˜The Heroine of the Huon™ and
˜Kate of Kildare: A Wife™s Trials and Triumphs™.48 Eliza Meteyard wrote
of the possibilities for emigration for women in Eliza Cook™s Journal. She
pre¬xed to her story, ˜Lucy Dean, the Noble Needlewoman™ (1850), the
words of Wake¬eld:
In trade, navigation, war and politics “ in all business of a public nature, except
works of benevolence and colonization “ the stronger sex alone take an active
part; but in colonization, women have a part so important that all depends on
their participation in the work.49
Lucy Dean, an impoverished needlewoman, found work, prosperity and a
husband in the mining districts of Australia, and returned to establish,
with her benefactor, the saintly Mary Austen, an emigration scheme for
˜Life in the Wilds™, in Deborah Logan (ed.), Harriet Martineau™s Writing on the British Empire, 5
vols. (London, 2004), vol. I, 14.
˜Ireland™, in ibid., vol. IV, 5“69.
Grimstone, ˜Heroine of the Huon™ and ˜Van Dieman™s Land, A Passage of Domestic History™,
People™s Journal, 1 (1846), 50“2 and 289“92; ˜Kate of Kildare: A Wife™s Trials and Triumphs™,
People™s Journal, 2 (1847), 249“51, 255“6.
Edward Gibbon Wake¬eld, A View of the Art of Colonization (London, 1849), 155, quoted in
˜Silverpen™ (Eliza Meteyard), ˜Lucy Dean: The Noble Needlewoman™, Eliza Cook™s Journal, 46“51
(March“April 1850), 312“16, 329“31, 340“3, 360“4, 376“9, 393“5, here 312.
the ˜slaves of the needle™ emphasising the opportunities open to them in
the ˜new world™.50 Mary Austen was probably based upon Caroline
Chisholm, the pioneer of early female emigration, as was Dickens™ Mrs
Jellyby in Bleak House (1852“3).51
From the 1820s onwards, many white middle- and upper-class British
women followed Maria Graham in writing of their travels. Most took
particular notice of indigenous women, and of women in colonial
societies. Their work, directed to a British audience, tended to de¬ne and
authorise the writer as imperial subject, and to contribute to a wider
debate around the condition of women in Britain. Gillian Whitlock has
noted that, because of the extent of emigration in the 1830s, ˜Upper
Canada emerged as an extraordinary site of autobiographic writing™.52
Susanna Strickland, Mary Prince™s amanuensis, emigrated there with her
husband, John Moodie, in 1832, joining other family members including
her sister Catherine Parr Traill. Traill™s handbook for emigrants, The
Backwoods of Canada (1836) was followed by the publication of a series of
autobiographical sketches written between 1832 and 1839 by Susanna and
John Moodie, Roughing it in the Bush (1852). These works tended to
construct the domestic woman in a new setting, drawing different dis-
tinctions to maintain a certain gentility. To the Moodies it was not the
indigenous population that was marked out as the racial ˜other™ but the
˜lively savages from the Emerald Isle™, Irish men and, worse, Irish women.53
The literary critic Anna Jameson joined her husband, the Attorney
General for Upper Canada, in 1836. She used her travel diary to confront
old prejudices, doubting whether the Native American woman was ˜that
absolute slave, drudge, and non-entity in the community™ so frequently
described. She suggested that the lives of Native American women,
among whom prostitution was unknown, might be favourably compared,
not to those of middle- and upper-class British women, but to maids of
all work and factory girls. She argued:
The true importance and real dignity of woman is everywhere, in savage and
civilised communities, regulated by her capacity for being useful; or, in other
words, that her condition is decided by the share she takes in providing for her
own subsistence and the well-being of society as a productive labourer.54
Helen Rogers, Women and the People: Authority, Authorship and the Radical Tradition in
Nineteenth-Century England (Aldershot, 2000), 124“49; Sally Mitchell, The Fallen Angel: Chastity,
Class, and Women™s Reading, 1835“1880 (Bowling Green, KY, 1981), 29“30.
51 52
Mitchell, The Fallen Angel, 42. Whitlock, Intimate Empire, 46.
Quoted in ibid., 67.
Anna Jameson, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, 3 vols. (London, 1838), vol. III,
75, 311.
The condition of women 115
Returning to Britain, Jameson found her arguments widely recognised as
a contribution to discussion on the rights of women.
As the numbers of British women travelling to India increased, so too
did their published journals and autobiographical writings. The accounts
of Emma Roberts, Mrs Meer Hassan Ali, Marianne Postans and Fanny
Parks, among many others published by 1850, helped to popularise
knowledge of Indian manners and customs.55 They became informants on
Indian domestic life, sometimes offering more accurate reports of seclu-
ded women™s lives, sometimes responding to the role assigned to women
in Hinduism and in Islam, sometimes helping to shape the continuing
discussion of racial attributes.56 Their works were widely reviewed in
Britain and admired for the ˜feminine™ quality of their observations, even
if it was sometimes suggested that their comments might come close to
There were orientalist elements in the representations of secluded
women in these works. Emma Roberts stressed female imprisonment
within Anglo-Indian society, offering only a distant perspective on the
˜imprisoned women™ of Benares.58 Marianne Postans referred to ˜the
useless, degrading and demoralizing condition™ of the women she met, yet
also the gender solidarity she found in the zenana, and the business acu-
men of some women.59 Mrs Meer Hassan Ali was welcomed with great
kindness into her husband™s family, and learnt from them much about
Muslim faith and practice. She recognised and attempted to moderate the
prejudices of her British readers, ¬nding the Muslim women she met
˜obedient wives, dutiful daughters, affectionate mothers, kind mistresses,
sincere friends, and liberal benefactresses to the distressed poor™.60 Fanny
Parks™ sensationalist title promised ˜Revelations of the Zenana™. She
described the zenana of her friend Colonel William Gardner, who married

Emma Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan . . . , 3 vols. (London, 1835); Mrs Meer

Hassan Ali, Observations on the Mussulmauns of India . . . (London, 1835); Marianne Postans,
Cutch, or Random Sketches, Taken During a Residence in One of the Northern Provinces of Western
India . . . (London, 1839) and Western India in 1838, 2 vols. (London, 1839); Fanny Parks,
Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque . . . with Revelations of Life in the Zenana, 2
vols. (London, 1850). For a full bibliography and discussion see Raza, ˜British Women Writers on
India™, 269“301, 455“8 and passim; see also Rosemary Raza, In Their Own Words: British Women
Writers on India 1740“1857 (Delhi, 2006).
See Raza, In Their Own Words, 270“301; Indira Ghose, Women Travellers in Colonial India (Delhi,
1998); Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing, 203“42.
Monthly Review, 1 (1839), 2, quoted in Raza, ˜British Women Writers on India™, 300.
Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics, vol. I, 239, quoted in Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel
Writing, 226.
Ghose, Women Travellers, 66“7; Postans, Western India, vol. II, 94“5, 102, 123.
Ali, Observations, 313“14.
an Indian princess of Cambay, and others to whom he introduced her. Her
discussion is sometimes admiring, occasionally voyeuristic, even homo-
erotic, and her views on the position of Hindu and Muslim women were
linked to criticisms of women™s role in Britain. One reported conversation
with a royal Mahratta widow compared the lives of Hindu widows with
those of English wives: ˜how completely by law they are the slaves of their
husbands and how little hope there is of redress™.61 Observing the gender
relations of such a culturally different world had become inseparably
intertwined with the awareness of a debate on such themes in Britain.
The poetry, novels, moral tales and travel writing discussed above were
all widely reviewed in the British periodical press. Within this press, in
the ¬rst half of the nineteenth century, women also addressed imperial
affairs and feminist issues, some years before the establishment of feminist
periodicals; much further research is needed in this area.62 Two out-
standing radical women journalists shared an awareness of the signi¬cance
of Britain™s imperial role for women: Harriet Martineau and Christian
Isobel Johnstone. Martineau™s extensive career as a journalist included
wide-ranging contributions on the British Empire from 1832 onwards. In
that year she wrote on the need for more information for free emigrants
to Van Dieman™s Land, on the potential for British colonisation to bring
economic improvement in India, and on the future administration of the
free labour of newly emancipated slaves in the West Indies.63


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