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Clare Gill

Clare Gill is a Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of St Andrews. Clare has research interests in the literature, culture and politics of the 1890s, nineteenth-century media history, the works of Olive Schreiner, and book history. She has published work on Schreiner, Marie Corelli, 1890s socialism, Victorian publishing and the Victorian press. She is the co-editor of Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900s: The Victorian Period (Edinburgh University Press 2019), which was shortlisted for the 2020 Colby Prize. Clare's first monograph, Olive Schreiner and the Politics of the Press, will be published by Edinburgh University Press. She is also co-series editor (with Professor Andrew van der Vlies) of The Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Olive Schreiner and volume editor of Olive Schreiner’s Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland (forthcoming, EUP).

‘Olive Schreiner and Transatlantic Anarchism’

When the socialist novelist Margaret Harkness described Olive Schreiner as ‘politically anarchist’ in an article for the Novel Review in 1892, Schreiner denied this claim as categorically ‘untrue’. Schreiner may have rejected the tenets of political anarchism, but her letters document an ambivalent attitude to anarchism’s more capacious intellectual purview. From her friendships with Charlotte Wilson (the co-editor with Peter Kropotkin of the anarchist newspaper Freedom) and ‘fringe’ anarchist Edward Carpenter, to her enduring philosophical concerns with questions of personal liberty, Schreiner’s relationship to late nineteenth-century anarchism was more complex and fertile than she ever acknowledged in print. This chapter will probe the anarcho-aesthetic framing of Schreiner’s fiction within British and American anarchist print and publishing networks in the 1880s and 1890s. By tracing Schreiner and her works through British and American anarchist newspapers such as Freedom and the Boston paper Liberty, new politicised entry-points to Schreiner’s works are revealed, including the ideological importance of her allegorical form for individualist forms of anarchism that were developing on both sides of the Atlantic in this period. In addition to exploring the ideological framing of Schreiner’s fiction in the anarchist press, this chapter will also cast light on the anarchic distribution practices of American anarchists such as Benjamin R. Tucker and Sarah E. Holmes, who put out editions of Schreiner’s works in formats and through channels which circumvented mainstream publishing networks, including Schreiner’s formal publishing arrangements with the American publisher, Roberts Brothers. Schreiner’s ambivalent anarchism will therefore be situated within broader debates about international copyright to include a consideration of the anarchy of piracy, a practice which bypasses the structures of what Schreiner herself described as the ‘capitalist rings’ of publishing and bookselling. 

AnarchismClare Gill
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