Loughborough University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Reason: This item is currently closed access.

Demeter and Kore : the mother-daughter story in women's inter-war fiction

posted on 2013-05-20, 12:50 authored by Heather Ingman
The thesis investigates the mother-daughter relationship in women's fiction of the inter-war period in England. It has two introductory chapters. The first is historical, setting the mother-daughter relationship against the background of women's lives in the inter-war period in England. The second outlines psychoanalytic theories of the mother-daughter relationship and includes French feminist theory as well as American object-relations theory and recent observations of clinical psychologists. It analyses a handful of inter-war novels which centre on the mother-daughter relationship. Subsequent chapters deal with the mother-daughter relationship in the work of Rose Macaulay, Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf, Ivy Compton-Burnett and Dorothy Richardson. The chapter on Macaulay reveals a gradual valorisation of the mother in this writer's work while that on Bowen uses Lacanian theory to show the cost to daughters of abandoning the preoedipal union with the mother. The chapter on Jean Rhys employs object relations theory, particularly Melanie Klein's theories on the maternal and reparative capacities of creativity. In the following chapter, Virginia Woolf's attempts to establish a maternal genealogy are linked to inter-war investigations into matriarchal societies, notably the work of Jane Harrison. The chapter on Compton-Burnett uses Foucault's theories to highlight Compton-Bumett's critique of the power structures underpinning Victorian family life and Sontag's theories of camp to examine the maternal tyrant in Compton-Bumett's novels. In the chapter on Dorothy Richardson it is argued that Richardson turns motherhood into a metaphor for the female artist. The conclusion argues that these writers' treatment of motherhood reveals a rich and varied approach to mothering. They seek to redefine motherhood to make it consonant with women's actual experience of mothering and being mothered. Mothers become their daughters' muses, viewed with hatred, longing, love, the figure that animates their writing.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


© Heather Ingman

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University. If you are the author of this thesis and would like to make it openly available in the Institutional Repository please contact: repository@lboro.ac.uk


  • en

Usage metrics

    English Theses


    Ref. manager