Old Q in the corner: Jane West, Late Life, and the nineteenth-century novel

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Jane West's late life and writings show a self-consciousness about authorship and a strong perspective on literary value and fame in old age. This essay shows how such a consciousness is revealed in a private letter, her last novel, Ringrove (1827), and her detail-filled will. West's late-life self-conception in a private letter as an 'old Q in the corner' deserves to be examined as a metaphor for the ageing female author. Taken together, these three texts demonstrate how West tries to shape readers' responses to old women as writers, using self-deprecating humour as a response to perceived neglect. The results are hardly comic, but they give us the opportunity to examine how a self-consciously older woman puts her words before a mass readership that was not necessarily well disposed to receive them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-290
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Ageing
  • History
  • Jane West
  • Literary gerontology
  • Literature
  • Novel
  • Old age
  • Women writers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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