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Contradictory Woolf$
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Derek Ryan and Stella Bolaki

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780983533955

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780983533955.001.0001

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Bi-sexing the Unmentionable Mary Hamiltons in A Room of One’s Own

Bi-sexing the Unmentionable Mary Hamiltons in A Room of One’s Own

The Truth and Consequences of Unintended Pregnancies and Calculated Cross-Dressing

Chapter:
(p.134) Bi-sexing the Unmentionable Mary Hamiltons in A Room of One’s Own
Source:
Contradictory Woolf
Author(s):

Vara S. Neverow

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780983533955.003.0016

This chapter offers a reading of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, focusing on the four Marys in the novel. In the second paragraph of A Room, the nameless narrator mentions three Marys: Mary Beton, Mary Seton, and Mary Carmichael. The narrator also hints that we may also call Mary “George,” as in Hamilton. The chapter then cites the historical Dr. George Hamilton, born Mary Hamilton, as one of the unmentioned Mary Hamiltons who haunt Woolf's text. While scholars tend to focus on the old Scottish Ballad narrated by Mary Hamilton, the chapter here raises the possibility that Woolf may have also been influenced by Henry Fielding's fictionalized 1746 pamphlet, The Female Husband: Or The Surprising History of Mrs Mary, Alias Mr George Hamilton, Taken from Her Own Mouth Since Her Confinement, with lesbian cross-dressing Mary Hamilton as the protagonist. It also suggests that Woolf counters Fielding's patriarchal views by endorsing her own Sapphism and the expression of female sexual desire.

Keywords:   cross-dressing, A Room of One's Own, George Hamilton, Mary Hamilton, Henry Fielding, The Female Husband, sexual desire

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