George Egerton, a pen name for Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright, was, like Sarah Grand and Ella Hepworth Dixon, a major New Woman writer of the fin-de-siècle. It may be more accurate to say that many consider Bright to be a New Woman writer; unlike her contemporaries, she actually opposed women’s suffrage and eschewed this title. Her first published book and collection of short stories, Keynotes, still falls within the New Woman genre in spite of Bright’s opposition. In particular, the collection contains several frank, unambiguous depictions of women’s sexuality. Bright seems to argue that women who are not limited by the sexual restraints of conventional marriage are able to form more meaningful relationships with one another. These women will also be able to overcome class based boundaries. New Women fiction often contained radical reimaginings of economic classes. Keynotes was wildly popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. “George Egerton” became a household name, but only briefly; interest in New Woman fiction soon declined, and her later works saw little sales and attention.
George Egerton (1859-1945)
Reprint of the 1893 edition originally published by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, London