Villains, Victims, and Violets: Agency and Feminism in the Original Sherlock Holmes Canon (Paperback)
Modern writers have reconsidered every subject under the sun through the lens of Sherlock Holmes. The overlooked subject is agency: the opportunities available to these women for independence and control. What we find all too often are the silences around them. And yet, these clients--villains, victims, and Violets--are pivotal in the world of Sherlock Holmes.
Perhaps more enigmatic than Holmes' methods is what Watson sees: the woman in the shadows. Whether lady or lady's maid, if she does speak, it's often not recorded in her words. That was life for half the population of Victorian England. A woman's role was written before she was born; it merely required her to don the starched white apron of a maid, or the rough, stained skirts of a "char"--who did the dirtiest of household jobs--or the fine silk gowns of a lady.
Enter Villains, Victims, and Violets to spy and report on these women in their darkest, most vulnerable moments. How does Irene Adler--pursued by a powerful king, and by Sherlock Holmes--outwit them both? Can Lady Hilda conceal the secret that only Holmes unravels? When Violet Hunter takes the last job offered before she loses everything, can Holmes free her and her doppelganger?
To understand Holmes' world is to gaze unsparingly into the lives of its women: the villains and what drives them astray; the victims Holmes races to rescue; and the Violets, who make up the strongest characters from Holmes' unforgettable cases. The authors pull back the curtain on their private spaces, revealing their "proper" place in a man's world at the dusk of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th.
Foreword by Nisi Shawl, noted Sherlockian and the James Tiptree Jr. Award-winning and Nebula-nominated author of the brilliant steampunk, feminist, Afrofuturist novel Everfair.