The Origin of the Modern Jewish Woman Writer: Romance and Reform in Victorian England



Between 1830 and 1880, the Jewish community flourished in England. During this time, known as haskalah, or the Anglo-Jewish Enlightenment, Jewish women in England became the first Jewish women anywhere to publish novels, histories, periodicals, theological tracts, and conduct manuals. The Origin of the Modern Jewish Woman Writer analyzes this critical but forgotten period in the development of Jewish women's writing in relation to Victorian literary history, women's cultural history, and Jewish cultural history.

Michael Galchinsky demonstrates that these women writers were the most widely recognized spokespersons for the haskalah. Their romances, some of which sold as well as novels by Dickens, argued for Jew's emancipation in the Victorian world and women's emancipation in the Jewish world.

Product Details

Wayne State University Press
Publish Date
February 05, 2018
6.0 X 0.58 X 9.0 inches | 0.82 pounds
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About the Author

Michael Galchinsky received his Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Berkeley. He teaches at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.


Michael Galchinsky's compelling study uncovers a treasure trove of historical concerns and literary efforts previously unknown, glossed over, or ignored. Convincingly demonstrating the profound influence of women's writings in Jewish communal efforts to achieve emancipation and religious reform, he broadens and greatly enriches our understanding of Jews in Victorian England. He also gives us greater appreciation for the romance novel as a political instrument, successfully used by such writers as Maria Polack, Marion Hartog, Celia Moss, and Grace Aguilar.--Ellen M. Umanky, Fairfield University
A nuanced, detailed, and complex description of how the novelistic imagination helped to create Anglo-Jewish Identity...provided a completely original perspective on several familiar Victoria phenomena; domesticity, individualism, and female religious education."--Catherine Galalgher, University of Califoria, Berkeley