Human Tigresses, Fractious Angels, and Nursery Saints: Augusta Webster's A Castaway and Victorian Discourses on Prostitution and Women's Sexuality

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Winter 2000


Prostitutes in Victorian literature rarely have a voice in any significant sense, and that is one reason why A Castaway, published in the collection Portraits in 1870, is so remarkable. Augusta Webster (1837-94), the writer who gave voice to a prostitute persona, was, by all accounts, a highly respectable woman, if somewhat unconventional in her ambitions for herself and other middle-class women. Webster used her own respectability to enable her disreputable persona to speak. Furthermore, she did what no other respectable writer had done to the same degree when she gave narrative authority, psychological complexity, and a knowledge of social forces to a prostitute persona.


This article was originally published in Victorian Poetry. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Victorian Poetry