Reading for Abortion in the Victorian Novel

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

Emma Burris-Janssen is a third-year PhD student at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests center on gendered violence and trauma, and she intends to bring these research interests into tighter focus in her dissertation by examining figurations of abortion in the British novel from 1861-1967. As this project is in its early stages, reading recommendations are more than welcomed!

You can contact Emma via email at or via Twitter @CairdTooMuch.

Wellcome Library, London. Baldwin's Herbal Female Pills Wellcome Library, London. Baldwin’s Herbal Female Pills

Near the opening of Jude the Obscure (1895), young Jude Fawley meets “Physician Vilbert” in the roadway. Keen to strike “a blow for Christminster,” Jude offers to solicit orders for “Physician Vilbert’s golden ointment, life-drops, and female pills” in exchange for Vilbert’s old Latin and Greek grammars (24). I want to focus on the last item of Vilbert’s list: his “female pills.” Throughout much of the nineteenth century, this phrase –…

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