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DIXIE, Florence.


or, The Revolution of 1900.

London, Henry and Company, 1890 Stock Code: 123824
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First edition of this quite remarkable feminist utopian novel from the twilight of Victoria's reign, the title recalling Edmund Spenser's soubriquet for Elizabeth I. "In Dixie's Gloriana (1890), the heroine's transformation from New Woman, to cross-dressing Prime Minister, and, finally, to rational-dresser and feminist icon of the future, functions as a metaphor for the refashioning and rewriting of social, historical and narrative conventions for the Victorian heroine at the fin de siècle" (Says, p. 160). A second edition of this piece of popular speculative fiction appeared in the same year.
The extraordinary Lady Florence Dixie (1855-1905) was the daughter of the eighth marquess of Queensberry, her generation of the family "haunted by disaster, dissension, and scandal" (ODNB); not least when her mother converted to Catholicism and was threatened with the loss of her children, "a real danger in an age which allowed a woman no rights over her own progeny, and an injustice against which Florence was to campaign in later life" (ibid.). After travelling abroad for two years Florence was sent to a convent school "where she hated the repressive regime and the dogmatism of the religious teaching... Early in life she developed a passion for sport and travel. She was a first rate horsewoman and a keen hunter of big game, one of the first women to take up this activity. She learned to swim and was a rapid walker. On 3 April 1875 she married Sir Alexander Beaumont Churchill Dixie, eleventh baronet (18511924), a strikingly handsome man, nicknamed Beau. They shared a taste for adventure and outdoor life" (ibid.). The couple travelled in South America and "the publication of Across Patagonia (1880) established Lady Dixie's reputation as a bold and resourceful traveller with a pen as ready as her gun. It was also partly the reason for her appointment as the Morning Post's war correspondent in South Africa where the Anglo-Zulu War was raging; she was the first woman to be officially appointed by a British newspaper to cover a war. Her husband accompanied her and, although on arriving in Cape Town in March 1881 they found to her chagrin that hostilities were over, they spent the next six months in southern Africa. They toured the country, visiting the battlefields and learning something of the causes and the course of the late conflict, while Lady Dixie contributed articles to the Morning Post in which she championed the cause of Cetewayo and his Zulu people". Back in England she plunged into the world of politics, initially about Irish home rule but later over women's rights, "Lady Dixie's political interests were thenceforth concentrated on the advocacy of complete sex equality. Her aims ranged from the reform of female attire to that of the royal succession law, which, she held, should prescribe the accession of the eldest child, of whichever sex, to the throne. She desired the emendation of the marriage service and of the divorce laws so as to place man and woman on the same level".
Highly uncommon both institutionally and in commerce, LibraryHub cites copies at just five British and Irish institutional libraries (British Library, Scotland, Oxford, London Library, Trinity College Dublin; the copy at Cambridge is of the second edition), WorldCat adds just nine worldwide (all in North America).

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Octavo. Original moderate blue cloth, title in gilt to spine and front cover, decorative "tile" pattern in black across both.


Author portrait as frontispiece.


Bookplate of Devonshire Hall Library (University of Leeds) imposed over that of Charles Thomas Whitmell (1849-1919), astronomer, mathematician and educationalist, his neat ownership stamp and inscription to half-title, pencilled note at head of title and on final page, "A curious book, 2/8/11". Spine slightly cocked, professional refurbishment to extremities of spine, inner hinges relined, lower corners bumped, binding a little rubbed, old dark marks across back cover. A good copy, with the single leaf of publisher's terminal advertisements.


Locke, Spectrum of Fantasy, I p. 70; not in Sadleir or Wolff; see Madeleine C. Says, Fashion and Narrative in Victorian Popular Literature: Double Threads, 2018.


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