The historical novel has been one of the most important forms of women's reading and writing in the twentieth century, yet it has been under-rated and critically neglected. In the first major study of British women writers' use of the genre, Diana Wallace traces its development across the century.In its popular forms, the historical novel has always offered women particular pleasures, including the thrills of transgression and of 'masquerading' as men. Wallace shows how the historical novel has also offered women a way of re-imagining conventional history to encompass women's experience, as well as a form within which they could address the most urgent political and social issues of their day. The book combines a comprehensive survey with detailed readings of key writers, including Georgette Heyer, Naomi Mitchison, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Daphne du Maurier, Margaret Irwin, Mary Renault, 'Jean Plaidy', Dorothy Dunnett, Catherine Cookson, Mary Stewart, Phillipa Gregory, A.S. Byatt and Pat Barker.

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