Herbert Flowerdew


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(1866–1917) married (1890) Florence Watts (b. 1863). Born at York, Flowerdew went to Nottingham High School. He published fourteen novels between 1897 and 1914. He stated in Who's Who that his recreation was the invention of mechanical toys. His widow's application to the Royal Literary Fund indicates that, never a prosperous writer, he found it difficult to sell his work after the First World War broke out, and at which stage he suffered a nervous breakdown. He went insane and may even have committed suicide. Retaliation: A Novel (1901) is an unsubtle exploration of class and gender issues. The hero is the descendant of a Roundhead, and when the squire's son kisses his sister he kisses the squire's daughter. Much later in London he is a well-known young author, his silly sister is still encouraging the young squire, and he himself embarks on an ill-thought-out campaign to seduce the squire's daughter, without realizing that she is far more oppressed than himself, penniless and fighting off an odious arranged marriage. The Woman's View: A Novel About Marriage (1903) is a marriage problem tale with a complicated plot drawing attention to the inaccuracy with which the marriage laws relate to how people, especially women, feel about marriage. Valerie marries a fortune-hunter, and discovers he had a wife who was alive when they were married but is now dead. Philip, who has always loved her, tells her she is free, but she still feels married, and remarries her husband. He beats her and her baby dies as a result, so Philip rescues her. The husband sues for divorce on grounds of adultery, and so she is once more free, though she has not committed adultery. She marries Philip to save his political career, but refuses to sleep with him, as she still has a husband alive. Her cousin, who is in love with Philip, tells her she must: Valerie then responds by telling him to get an annulment and going back to her husband. As in Retaliation, Flowerdew sacrifices plausibility for the sake of his thesis. Flowerdew published an article, ‘A Substitute for the Marriage Laws’ in the Westminster Review (September 1899).

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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