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Discovering Lily Lewis : a Canadian journalist and new woman



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This dissertation describes my recovery of the life and writing of a relatively unknown late nineteenth-century Canadian woman writer. In the fall of 1888, Lily Lewis, a young journalist from Montreal, embarked upon a journey around the world in the company of another young woman, Sara Jeannette Duncan. Duncan has since been increasingly recognized for both her journalism and her fiction and Lewis has been almost entirely forgotten. I have recovered some of Lewis's work subsequent to the tour with Duncan, identified some earlier work not previously attributed to her, and become acquainted with a surviving relative, and in my dissertation I examine Lily Lewis [Rood]'s life and texts from the theoretical perspective of life writing. I find Marlene Kadar's theory of "life writing as critical practice" as she explains it in her introductory chapter to Essays on Life Writing: From Genre to Critical Practice especially enabling for this project. The process of recovering early writers, Kadar insists, must includean exploration of precisely how they became lost, and must not exclude the contexts of the reader and critic. To explicate fully my own critical contexts, I summarize theories of life writing by several Canadian scholars, including Kadar. I include, as well, outlines of some pertinent work on travel writing, and a brief overview of the new historicist critical 'milieu ' in which my study situates itself. In an attempt to understand the "forgetting" (Kadar 10) that has almost effaced Lily Lewis from Canadian literary history, I examine circumstances today, in Lewis's time, and in the time between that have contributed to her erasure. In an attempt to reclaim for Lily Lewis a place among Canadian women writers of her time, I read and analyse her work contextually and intertextually in conjunction with writing by several of her contemporaries, notably Duncan, and, to a lesser extent, the Canadian journalist, travel writier, and novelist, Alice Jones. I focus upon evidence that supports my contention that a contributor to the Toronto paper The Week, previously known only as "L. L.," was Lily Lewis. I look at Lily Lewis Rood's complex involvement in cultural and literary stereotypes, and I discuss her participation in discourses about the New Woman in both Canadian and international contexts. I hope with this work to contribute to our knowledge of Canada's literary past and also, by encouraging a careful examination of our current critical values and practices, to contribute to Canadian literary scholarship and to the theorizing of life writing.



english, women authors, description and travel, 19th century, travelers' writings, voyages, Canadian prose literature



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)







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