Mathilde Blind
 

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Mathilde Blind

Brief Bibliography

Mathilde Cohen was born in Mannheim, Germany on March 21st, 1841.  Her father died shortly after her birth, and her mother quickly remarried a man named Karl Blind.  Mathilde’s step-father was one of Europe’s major revolutionary figures who became a dedicated supporter of several “nineteenth-century movements for the freedom and autonomy of struggling nationalists” (Avery).  Karl Blind was also a leader of the Baden Insurrection, which consequently forced the Blind family to flee into exile and take refuge in England.  Mathilde chose to take the Blind name, arguably representing her shared interest in her step-father’s revolutionary interests and positions on social and political matters.  Her step-father’s influence helped to foster Mathilde’s “independence of mind” (Garnett); she embraced many of the defining characteristics of the late-Victorian New Women.  While attending a girls’ school, she developed a curiosity for geology and mythology, which questioned and ultimately challenged her orthodox religious beliefs. Blind chose to abandon religious faith and, consequently, was expelled from school for her atheism.  Blind cultivated her new found intellectual independence by choosing to learn from writers such as Kant, Goethe, Schiller and Shakespeare. Blind believed that marriage would suppress her intellectual freedom; therefore, she decided to remain unmarried. Blind’s independent personality compelled her to travel extensively throughout Europe; she was eager to acquire a cultured component to her self-taught education.

Mathilde Blind was an important late-Victorian English writer who was an accomplished poet, biographer, novelist, essayist, editor and translator. In 1885 Blind published her only novel, Tarantella: A Romance. It was her poetry, however, that Blind became most famous for. In 1867 Blind published her first volume of poems entitled “in Undying Gratitude and Reverence” under the pseudonym Claude Lake. 

Blind’s love for the male “Romantic” poets heavily influenced her earlier writings, which is responsible for the imaginative, mystical and exploratory component to her earlier writings.  Although she enjoyed editing Lord Byron’s letters (1886), her deepest love and admiration was for Percy Shelley. In 1886 Blind published a lecture entitled “Shelley’s View of Nature Contrasted with Darwin’s.”  This publication foreshadows Blind’s growing interest in evolutionary theory, an interest that eventually led to her professional recognition in the literary world.

Blind’s writings evolved from conventional “Romantic” literature to more of a feminist critique on the patriarchal institutions that existed in the Victorian society.  Specifically, her friendships with several gentlemen from the Pre-Raphaelites exposed her to the ways in which the “female subject” became the centralized focus for “adult art.” These influences became the impetus for Blind’s decision to explore female sexual desire in several of her writings.  Moreover, Blind chose to explore such themes as antitheism, patriarchy, sexual libertinism, extramarital affairs and the imprisoning space that women occupied in the Victorian society. Blind’s decision to express her political and social activism through a feminist perspective was originally received with apprehension, which regarded her writings to be substandard and consequently excluded from the literary canon.  Nonetheless, Blind continued to develop a strong feminist consciousness and elected to write biographies on strong Victorian women figures, including George Eliot and Mary Wollstonecraft.

In 1881 Blind published The Prophecy of St Oran and in 1886 published The Heather on Fire.  Both poems signify Blind’s religious and political radicalism, exposing the oppressive patriarchal institutions of Christianity and marriage. In 1889 Blind published her third lengthy poem that, arguably, became her most accredited and accomplished poem – The Ascent of Man, an epic-length poem that summarizes Charles Darwin’s evolutionary process.  Blind used Darwin’s evolutionary theory as a means of reflecting upon various social issues, particularly gender relations.

Blind died on November 26, 1896. She bequeathed her estate to the Newnham College, a women’s university, in the hope to increase educational opportunities for women.

Primary Sources

Blind, Mathilde. Tarantella: A Romance. T. Fisher Unwin. 1872. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/ttella1.html>.

---. “The Prophecy of Saint Oran, and Other Poems.” Chatto & Windus. 1881. Victorian Women's Writers Project 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/prophecy.html>.

---. “The Heather on Fire: A Tale of Highland Clearances.” London:  Walter Scott. 1886. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/heather.html>.

Byron, Lord, and Mathilde Blind, eds. “The Letters and Journal of Lord Byron: Lord Byron with introduction by Mathilde Blind.” London: Walter Scott, 1886.

---, and Mathilde Blind, eds. “The Poetical Works of Lord Byron.” London: Walter Scott, 1886.

Blind, Mathilde. “Shelley’s View of Nature Contrasted with Darwin’s.” Printed for Private Distribution. 1886. Victorian Women's Writers Project.

            2003. 19 Oct. 2004 <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/shelley.html>.

---. Madame Roland. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1886.

---. Famous Roland. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888.

---. “The Ascent of Man.” Chatto & Windus. 1889. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/ascent.html>.

---. “Journal of Marie Bashkirtsef.” New York: Random House, 1890.

---. “Dramas in Miniature.” Chatto & Windus. 1891. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/dramas.html>.

---. “Bird of Passage: Songs of the Orient and Occident.” Chatto & Windus. 1895. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/birds.html>.

---. “Songs and Sonnets.” Chatto & Windus. 1895. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/blind-songs.html>.

---. “A Message: Poetry from the Love in Exile” New York: International Bibliophile Society, 1901.

---. George Eliot. New York: Haskell House, 1972.

---. 105 Poems from Mathilde Blind. Ed. Francis Paris. 2002. PoemHunter.com. 19 Oct. 2004 <http://www.poemhunter.com/mathilde-blind/poet-6847/>.

Lake, Claude [Mathilde Blind]. “Personal Recollection of Mazzini: In Undying Gratitude and Reverence.” Unwin Brothers Publishing. 1891. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004 <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/blind/lakepoems.html>.

Strauss, David Friedrich, and Mathilde Blind, trans. “The Old Faith and The New.” Place: Prometheus Books, 1997.

Secondary Sources

Avery, Simon. “Mathilde Blind.” University of Hertfordshire. 27 Nov. 2002. The Literary Encyclopedia. 2001. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.litencyc.com/LitEncycFrame.htm>.

“Blind, Karl.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition. 2003. Columbia University Press. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004 <http://www.bartleby.com/65>.

Byecroft, Breanna. “Representations of the Female Voice in Victorian Poetry.” Brown University. 2003. The Victorian Web. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.victorianweb.org/index.html>.

Deidrick, James. “A Pioneering Female Aesthete: Mathilde Blind in ‘The Dark Blue.’” Victorian Periodicals Review. 36.3 (2003): 210-242.

            EBSCOhost. 17 Oct. 2004 <http://www.nipissingu.ca/library/>.

---. “‘My Love Is a Force That Will Force You to Care:’ Subversive Sexuality in Mathilde Blind’s  Dramatic Monologues.” Victorian Poetry. 40.4

            (2002): 359-386. EBSCOhost. 17 Oct. 2004 <http://www.nipissingu.ca/library/>.

Garnett, Richard Dr. “Mathilde Blind.” The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia 2002. Lovetoknow Corporation. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://48.1911encyclopedia.org/B/BL/BLIND_MATHILDE.htm>.

Handley, Graham. “Mathilde Blind.” George Eliot Review. 29.1 (1998): 65-69. EBSCOhost. 17 Oct. 2004 <http://www.nipissingu.ca/library/>.

Owens, Elizabeth A. “Undervalued Acumen: The Dramatic Monologues of Mathilde Blind.” University of Toledo. 2004. 2001. Women of Courage.

            19 Oct. 2004 <http://portfolio.ditchkitty.com/blind.html>. 

Willett, Perry. “Matilda Blind.” Indiana University. 2004. Victorian Women's Writers Project. 2003. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp>.

Young, Gary., Richard Bear, and Sydney Wroth. “Mathilde Blind (1841-1896).” Sonnet Central: The Victorian Sonnet. 1997. 19 Oct. 2004

            <http://www.sonnets.org/blind.htm>.

Available Images

Image 1: Picture of Mathilde Blind

http://www.mystudios.com/women/abcde/lm_brown_mathilde.html

Image 2: Picture of Mathilde Blind

http://oldpoetry.com/authors/Mathilde%20Blind

Image 3: Book Cover - The Prophecy of Saint Oran And Other Poems

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002Z382K/qid=1100971477/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-5129587-8736916?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Image 4: Book Cover - George Eliot

http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/04011611011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/7300000/7303579.jpg

Image 5: Book Cover - Songs and Sonnets

http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/04081312011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/8100000/8106744.jpg

Image 6: Book Cover - The Heather On Fire

http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/04081312011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/8100000/8107974.jpg

Prepared by Angela Collins (2004).

 

Nipissing University
Contact:  Professor Ann-Barbara Graff
Department of English Studies
Email:  annbg@nipissingu.ca
Last modified: November 22, 2004