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A scholarly edition of Susan Ferrier's The Inheritance



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This is a scholarly edition of Susan Ferrier’s (1782-1854) second novel, The Inheritance (1824). I want to reclaim its value as a novel that reveals much about nineteenth-century Scottish notions of class, gender, and nation. Ferrier was among many writers influenced by the development of the Scottish Renaissance. Anand Chitnis claims that this Scottish flowering began in earnest by 1750 and ended by 1830, during which time Scotland emerged from centuries of war and oppression to establish itself as a major force in Europe’s intellectual and scientific community (4). Improvements in transportation opened up opportunities for migration and travel, connecting Scotland with the rest of Britain. This changing climate influenced significantly Ferrier and her Scottish contemporaries, who adopted recurrent themes, symbols, and settings in their works to establish a sense of coherence within their own society. Ferrier’s works feature elements that are fundamental to Scottish women’s writing as a whole. These elements, such as a powerful sense of locality,distinctive characters, and use of the Scottish vernacular, are especially evident in The Inheritance. In utilizing the 1853 edition as copytext, I adhere to Jerome McGann’s notion that “each text enters the world under determinate socio-historical conditions, which can be variously defined and imagined” (9). The production of a text, therefore, can be influenced by changes in perspective of the author, as well as the opinions of publishers,reviewers, family, and friends. In 1850, in response to a letter from Bentley inviting Ferrier to make changes to the stereotypes of the 1841 edition in his possession, Ferrier asked that Bentley remove the existing illustrations and vignettes and make some substantive and accidental changes to the text. These appear to have been attended to, although Bentley did keep one of the illustrations as frontispiece. At this time, Ferrier also allowed her name to be released as author of the text. This present edition is collated against the 1824 edition held at the National Library of Scotland. As one of my aims is to illustrate the nature of literary production during this period, idiosyncrasies of spelling and punctuation are left unchanged. A few misprints are corrected as indicated in the footnotes. I have included separately accidental and substantive changes between the 1841 and 1853 texts. Aside from a comprehensive introduction, I also include a brief chronology of Ferrier’s life and works,an appendix that includes a selection of illustrations from various editions, and a list of editions of The Inheritance.



scholarly edition, scottish literature, women's fiction



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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