Edith Holden: an extraordinary lady? The vexed debate about the diary of a nobody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Edith Holden's Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (1906, published posthumously 1977) is one of the bestselling books in British publishing history.Yet critical reactions to this work have puzzled over both its canonical status and, in the light of the internationally successful merchandising industry that the diary has spawned, Holden's own status as a public figure. Is she a representative 'ordinary' woman or a more familiar type of celebrity, the 'exceptional' woman? In this exploration of the difficulty of categorising Holden and her diary, I consider the binary nature of much Western criticism and recent critiques in feminist work. I argue that the Holden 'phenomenon' unwittingly engages with such critiques and unsettles traditional configurations of gender, class and liberal ideology. Holden represents an ascendancy of the 'middlebrow', and I consider the varying implications of this model within popular and high culture during the 1970s and 1980s.
LanguageEnglish
Pages41-66
Number of pages25
JournalLife Writing
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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Diary
Ascendancy
High Culture
1970s
Middlebrow
Criticism
Publishing History
Industry
Critical Reaction
Celebrity
Public Figures
1980s
Ideology
Popular Culture

Keywords

  • biography
  • literary criticism
  • english studies
  • writing

Cite this

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Edith Holden: an extraordinary lady? The vexed debate about the diary of a nobody. / Edwards, S.M.

In: Life Writing, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2005, p. 41-66.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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