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    Introduction: Spiritualism and the Supernatural, 1870–1925

    Brennan, Z, Liggins, E ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7452-5748 and Wisker, G (2022) Introduction: Spiritualism and the Supernatural, 1870–1925. Women's Writing, 29 (2). pp. 153-160. ISSN 0969-9082

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    Abstract

    Spiritualism and the supernatural have long been sources of fascination for the woman writer. In the nineteenth century and beyond, ghost stories by women were published alongside autobiographical reflections on the afterlife, first-hand accounts of séances and philosophical and psychoanalytical musings on theosophy, mysticism and the subconscious. An excellent recent collection The Female Fantastic: Gendering the Supernatural in the 1890s and 1920s (2019) calls attention to the positioning of women writers at the forefront of radical enquiry into the border between life and death, identifying them as important producers of experimental fantastic fiction and involved in the exchange of ideas about esoteric religions and occult practices. As Lizzie Harris McCormick, Jennifer Mitchell and Rebecca Soares point out, however, much of the scholarship on the supernatural and the fantastic lacks a specific focus on female-authored narratives.1 In an earlier special issue of Women’s Writing (2008) on “Victorian women and the Occult”, focussing on writers such as Florence Marryat and E. Nesbit, Tatiana Kontou argued that, “both women and the occult challenge the extent of what is natural and/or supernatural and defy containment in Victorian literature and culture”.2 And yet this defiance of boundaries has still not been fully mapped fourteen years later. There is more to be said about “gendering the supernatural”, about the diversity and depth of women writers” responses to their rapidly changing environments, to increasingly popular ways of communicating with the dead and to shifting transnational understandings of the otherworldly.

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