“To whom shall the outcast prostitute tell her tale!”: Endo/Exo-Writer Perspectives of Nineteenth-Century Sex Workers in Madeleine, An Autobiography and Mary Barton
This article analyses two portrayals of the nineteenth-century female sex worker: Madeleine, An Autobiography, written from the endo-perspective of the anonymous narrator, and Mary Barton, written from the exo-perspective of Elizabeth Gaskell. By placing these two texts in conversation, this project aims to illuminate the range of discourses that emerged about female sex workers during this period, and more broadly, the difficulties that arise when writers attempt to represent subalternity in the depiction of historically occluded identity groups. Through a comparison of the “outcast prostitute” Esther Barton in Gaskell’s novel with the first-person autobiographical account of Madeleine Blair, the article offers a comprehensive account of the lives of these women and explores the discursive specificities of the authors’ construction of the female sex worker in relation to other accounts of sex work. Attention is also given the ideologemes surrounding sex work that prevail in Western culture and the consequences they have for people within that community today.
addiction; authority; genre; ideologeme; prostitution; representation; sex work
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2023
Date of Publication: 5 July 2023
Double Blind Peer Reviewed
Brandt Sartain, Katie. 2023. “‘To whom shall the outcast prostitute tell her tale!’: Endo/Exo-Writer Perspectives of Nineteenth-Century Sex Workers in Madeleine, An Autobiography and Mary Barton.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 5.1: 142-57. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI: https://doi.org/10.46911/GUIL7181
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