Eliza Lynn Linton

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Eliza Lynn Linton

Brief Biography

Eliza Lynn Linton was born in Keswick, England on February 10th, 1822.  She died of pneumonia on July 14th, 1898 at the age of seventy-six.  She was the youngest of twelve children.  Linton’s mother, Crosthwaite, died when she was only six months old.  Her Father, Reverend James Lynn (a.k.a. Vicar of Keswick) was a clergyman in Cumberland (Hamilton 179, Johannsen).

At the age of twenty-three, Eliza Lynn Linton ventured over to London in 1845, where she began her literary career.  She did have a difficult start, but she worked hard, and eventually became quite a success.  In fact, she is known as “one of the first women to earn a living as a journalist” (Hamilton 179).  Within the first three years she had published two books, Azeth the Egyptian (1847) and Amymone: A Romance of the Days of Pericles (1848).  Then, between the years of 1845-1851, Linton worked for The Morning Chronicle.  From 1851-1854 she resided in Paris where she made a living as a correspondent for a number of London newspapers. 

Back in England again, Eliza was married in 1858, “at the request of his dying wife, to William James Linton, a well-known engraver” (Johannsen).  The couple’s marriage was fairly brief, only lasting nine years, before William James Linton left.  Moving on, Eliza Lynn Linton reverted back to London to revive her sensational career.  In her lifetime, she wrote nearly thirty novels and love stories. 

Working for The Saturday Review, Linton managed to publish some of her most powerfully charged material, such as The Girl of the Period and The Wild Women: As Social Agents.  Despite being “equally famous in her day for her fiction writing, short stories and travel writing”, what Eliza Lynn Linton would best be remembered for her is her outrageously controversial journal articles as such mentioned above.     

Linton is most notorious for her anti-feminist philosophies, and her critiques of the ‘wild’ Victorian women.  She was an emancipated woman who would fight tooth and nail against the emancipation of women.  In The Wild Women: As Social Insurgents (n.d.), Linton describes the Wild Woman as an unfit, civilization destroying creature in need of feminine social skills.  She insists that emancipated women go too far in their new independence, and consequently lose all beauty that is desired in a woman.  

Her Darwinian beliefs conflicted with the changing women around her.  While men tried vigorously to keep women in their inferior positions with evolution backing their fight, Linton actively fought along with the men, thus discrediting women and making their battle even more difficult.  Not only were women at a disadvantage socially, but they were now waging war against science AND Eliza Lynn Linton.

Admittedly, she was desperately against women’s political involvement.  However, she did advocate “equal but separate education for women, women’s property rights, and women’s rights to their children” (Hamilton 179).  Not many people who have heard of Eliza Lynn Linton would know that she favoured any kind of progressing for women.  To most, Linton was a hypocrite.  She was not oblivious to this fact either.  Unsurprised, she once said “I have numbers of anonymous letters from women who wish to see my pen paralyzed and myself struck dead” (Hamilton 180).

Good or bad, Eliza Lynn Linton was an extraordinary Victorian woman, who through her literary speech marked her place in time.  Whether one remembers her for her journalism, her romance novels, or her radical philosophies, she will always remain a part of women’s history.             

Primary Sources

Linton, Eliza Lynn. Azeth the Egyptian. London: T.C. Newby, 1847.

Amymone: A Romance of the Days of Pericles. London: Publisher unknown, 1848.

Realities. Place and Publisher unknown, 1851.

Witch Stories. London: Publisher unknown, 1861.

The Lake Country. Place unknown: Smith, Elder and Company, 1864.

Grast your nettle. London: Publisher unknown, 1865.

Lizzie Lorton of Greyrigg. London: Publisher unknown, 1866.

Sowing the Wind. London: Publisher unknown, 1867.

Modern Women and What I Say of Them. Place and Publisher unknown, 1868.

“The Girl of the Period”. Saturday Review 14 Mar. 1868.

"The Modern Revolt". Macmillan's Magazine Dec. 1870.

The True History of Joshua Davidson. London: Strahan and Company,1872.

Patricia Kemball. London: Publisher unknown, 1875.

The mad Willoughbys and other tales. London: Publisher unknown, 1875.

Ione. London: B. Tauchnitz, 1883.

Paston Carew, millionaire and miser. London: Publisher unknown, 1886.

The Atonement of Leam Dundas. London: Publisher unknown, 1876.

The World Well Lost. London: Publication unknown, 1877.

Under which lord? London: Publisher unknown, 1879.

The Rebel of the Family. Place and Publisher unknown, 1880.

With a silken thread and other stories. London: Publisher unknown, 1880.

My love! London: Publisher unknown, 1881.

Stabbed in the dark. London: Publisher unknown, 1885.

The Autobiography of Christopher Kirkland. London: R. Bently, 1885.

Through the Long Nights. London: Hurst & Blackett, 1889.

An octave of friends, with other silhouettes and stories. London: Publisher unknown, 1891.

"The Wild Women: as Politicians." Nineteenth Century July 1891.

The one too many. London: Publisher unknown, 1894.

In haste and at leisure. London: Publisher unknown, 1895.

Dulcie Everton. London: Publisher unknown, 1896.

Women Novelists of Queen Victoria's Reign. London: Hurst & Blackett, 1897.

My Literary Life. London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1899.

The Second Youth of Theodora Desanges. London: Publisher unknown, 1900.

The Fate of Madame Cabanel. Place and Publisher unknown, n.d.

"The Wild Women as Social Insurgents." Nineteenth Century Oct. n.d..

The Witches of Scotland. Place and Publication unknown, n.d.

Secondary Sources

Anderson, Nancy Fix.  "Autobiographical Fantasies of a Female Anti-Feminist:  Eliza Lynn Linton as Christopher Kirkland and Theodora Desanges." Dickens Studies Annual:  Essays on Victorian Fiction 1985 14: 287-301.

Anderson, Nancy Fix. "Eliza Lynn Linton, Dickens, and the Woman Question."  Victorian Periodicals Review 1989 22: 134-141.

Anderson, Nancy Fix. Eliza Lynn Linton and the Women Question in Victorian England. New Orleans: Tulane University, 1973.

Anderson, Nancy Fix. "Eliza Lynn Linton: The Rebel of the Family (1880) and Other Novels." The New Nineteenth Century: Feminist Readings Underread Victorian Fiction. Eds. Barbara Harman and Susan Meyer. New York: Garland, 1996.

Anderson, Nancy Fix.  "Lessons from the Past:  Eliza Lynn Linton's Use of History for and against Women's Rights in Victorian England."  Southwestern Historical Association Conference.  March 1989. Little Rock, AR. 1989. 

Anderson, Nancy, Fix. "Mrs. Partington Sweeping Out the Atlantic:  Eliza Lynn Linton's Struggle against the New Woman."  Northeast Victorian Studies Association Conference. April 1983.  Boston, MA. 1983.

Anderson, Nancy Fix.  “The Rebel of the Family:  A Life of Eliza Lynn Linton.” The Rebel of the Family:  A Critical Edition.  Ed. Deborah Meem.  New York: Broadview Press, 2002.

Anderson, Nancy Fix.  Women Against Women in Victorian England:  A Life of Eliza Lynn Linton. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1987.

Andis, Ann. New Women New Novels: Feminism and Early Modernism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990.

Bar, Bianca and Mathias Deinert. "Eliza Lynn Linton (1882-1898): novelist/anti-feminist journalist." Modern Victorian Women. Other University Home Pages: Bianca Bar & Mathias Deinert, 2001. 1 Nov. 2004. <http://www.unipotsdam.de/u/anglistik/stud_pro/vic_women/linton.htm>

Black, Helen C. Notable Authors of the Day. Glasgow:  Dvaid Bryce and Son, 1893.

Broomfield, Andrea Lynn." Forging a New Tradition:  Helen Taylor, Eliza Lynn Linton, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and the Victorian Women of Letters." Dissertation Abstracts International Feb. 1995 55(8): 2400A.

Broomfield, Andrea Lynn. "Much More Than an Antifeminist:  Eliza Lynn Linton's Controbutions to the Rise of Victorian Popular Journalism." Victorian Literature and Culture 2001 29(2): 267-83.

Brother, Elizabeth Latta. "A Profession of Their Own:  A Study of the Jounalistic, Margaret Oliphant, Eliza Lynn Linton, and Emilia Dilke." Dissertation Abstracts International Nov. 1999 60(5): 1570.

Checkland, Olive. "Women Against Women in Victorian England. A Life of Eliza Lynn Linton." English Historical Review Oct. 1990. 105(417):1058-1059.

Colby, Vineta. The Singular Anomaly:  Women Novelists of the Nineteenth Century. New York:  New York University Press, 1970.

d'Albertis, Deirdre. "Make-believers in Bayswater and Belgravia: Bronte, Linton, and the Victorian Flirt". Victorians Institute Journal 1996 24:1-25.

Eliza Lynn Linton. University of Texas. n.d. 1 Nov. 2004. <http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/RHE309/vicfembios/elizallinton.htm>

Greaves, Gina. Evenings in the Court of Paradise: a religion, science and gender in the work of Eliza Lynn Linton. Leicester: De Montfort University, 2003.

Hamilton, Susan (Ed.) Criminals, Idiots, Women, and Minors: Victorian Writing by Women on Women. 2nd ed. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2004.

Harraden, Beatrice. Mrs. Lynn Linton 1898. Virginia: University of Virginia Library, 1864-1936.

Heilmann, Ann and Margaret Beetham (Eds.) New Women Hybridities: Femininity, feminism and international consumer culture, 1880-1930. London: Routledge, 2004.

Herbert, Christopher. "He Knew He Was Right, Mrs. Lynn Linton, and the Duplicities of Victorian Marriage." Texas Studies in Literature and Language Fall 1983 25(3): 448-469.

Holcombe, Lee. "Women Against Women in Victorian England." American Historical Review Feb. 89 94(1):139-140.

Jobe, Steven (Ed.) "Hnery James and the Innocence of Daisy Miller:  A Corrected Text of teh Letter to Eliza Lynn Linton." American Literary Realism Spring 1997 29 (3): 82-85.

Kranidis, Rita B. Subversive Discourse: the cultural production of late Victorian feminist novels. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Layard, George Somes. Mrs. Lynn Linton: her life, letters, and opinions. Methuen: Methuen Publishing, 1901.

Johannsen, Albert. "Linton, Lynn E." The House of Beadle & Adams and its Dime and Nickel Novels: The Story of a Vanished Literature. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950. 20 Aug. 2004. 1 Nov. 2004 <http://www.niulib.niu.edu/badndp/linton_lynn.html>

Marshall, Gail. Actresses on the Victorian Stage, Feminine Performance and the Galatea Myth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Meem, Deborah T. "Eliza Lynn Linton and the rise of Lesbian Consciousness." Journal of the History of Sexuality 1997 7(4): 537-60.

Mitchell, Sally. "Amy Dillwyn/Annie Besant/ Women Against Women in Victorian England. " Victorian Studies Autumn 88 2(1): 138-140.

Osterholm, Katheryn Kress. "Eliza Lynn Linton's Female Characters and the double Bind of the Feminine Novelist." Dissertation Abstracts International Feb. 1995 55(5): 1314A.

Phipps, Pauline. "Gender and Sexuality in Victorian England:  An Analysis of the Autobigraphy of Christopher Kirkland." Guidance & Counseling. Summer 2002 17(4)112-116.

Rinehart, Nana. "Eliza Lynn Liton:  The Girl of the Period by Herbert van Thal." Victorian Periodicals Review 1981 14(3):130-131.

Robinson, Solveig C. Defining the nature of good literature: Victorian women of letters. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1994.

Rosen, Judith Anne. Performing femininity in British Victorian culture. Berkeley: University of California, 1995.

Spender, Dale and Janet Todd. Anthology of British Women Writers. London: Pandora Press, 1990.

Stone, Donald D. "Victorian Feminism and the Nineteenth-Century Novel." Women's Studies 1972 1(1): 65-91.

Super, R. H. "Landor's 'Dear Daughter', Eliza Lynn Linton." Publications of the Modern Language Association of America Dec. 1994 59(4): 1059-85.

Thal, Herbert van. "Eliza Lynn and George Eliot." The George Eliot Fellowship Review 1974 5: 9-14.

Thal, Herbert van. Eliza Lynn Linton the Girl of the Period. 1st ed. London:  George Allen & Unwin, 1979.

Thompson, Dorothea M. "Carnegie-Mellon University in Dictionary of Literary Biography." Victorian Novelists After 1885. Eds. Ira B. Nadel and William E. Fredeman. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 1983.

Uglow, Jennifer and Frances Hinton. The Macmillan dictionary of women's biography. London: Macmillan, 1989.

Vicinus, Martha. "Eliza Lynn Linton." Victorian Studies Spring 1981 24(3): 369-370.

Worzala, Diane. "Woman Against Women in Victorian England:  A Life of Eliza Lynn Linton by Nancy Fix Anderson." Victorian Periodicals Review 1989 22(2): 83-84.

Available Images

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Prepared by Carrie Eisler (2004).

Nipissing University
Contact:  Professor Ann-Barbara Graff
Department of English Studies
Email:  annbg@nipissingu.ca
Last modified: October 12, 2004