The Match Girl and the Heiress by Seth Koven

By Seth Koven

Nellie Dowell used to be a fit manufacturing facility lady in Victorian London who spent her early years consigned to orphanages and hospitals. Muriel Lester, the daughter of a filthy rich shipbuilder, longed to be freed from the load of cash and possessions. jointly, those not going soulmates sought to remake the realm based on their very own utopian imaginative and prescient of Christ’s teachings. The fit lady and the Heiress paints an unforgettable portrait in their late-nineteenth-century girlhoods of wealth and need, and their bold twentieth-century experiments in moral residing in an international torn aside by means of warfare, imperialism, and business capitalism.

In this alluring e-book, Seth Koven chronicles how every one traveled the globe—Nellie as a spinster proletarian laborer, Muriel as a well-heeled vacationer and respected Christian peacemaker, anticolonial activist, and humanitarian. Koven vividly describes how their lives crossed within the slums of East London, the place they inaugurated a grassroots revolution that took the Sermon at the Mount as a advisor to attaining financial and social justice for the dispossessed. Koven indicates how they dedicated themselves to Kingsley Hall—Gandhi’s London domestic in 1931 and Britain’s first “people’s condo” based at the Christian rules of social sharing, pacifism, and reconciliation—and sheds gentle at the intimacies and inequalities in their loving but complex relationship.

The fit woman and the Heiress probes the interior lives of those striking ladies opposed to the panoramic backdrop of shop-floor exertions politics, international capitalism, counterculture spirituality, and pacifist feminism to reveal the injuries of poverty and overlook that Christian love may possibly by no means heal.

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In other chapters, I tease out the implications of love for historical understandings of female friendship, same-sex desire, and cross-class eroticism in the early twentieth century. This book, I hope, demonstrates the analytical gains of keeping together the history of affect and politics, feeling and thinking, loving and doing. 43 Theirs was a utopian enterprise deeply rooted in the gritty materiality of slum life, not some Arcadian flight into an ideal world of their own making. 44 CHAPTER ONE Victorian Childhoods and Two Victorian Children HERE IS ONE OF MANY WAYS to tell their story: Muriel Lester had a childhood and Nellie Dowell didn’t.

Nellie’s participation in the match industry in England, New Zealand, and Sweden elucidates a critical moment in the history of British global capitalism from the vantage point of one of its most essential, easily replaced, and least powerful participants: an unmarried proletarian female worker. Her transnational laboring life played out against a backdrop of massive challenges to British capitalists’ economic hegemony from within—by struggles between Labour and capital—and without—by competition with other nations like the United States as well as anticolonial nationalist movements from Ireland to India.

33 (See fig. ) Presumably, Muriel had considered publishing the story as a socio-fiction (she drafted dozens of such stories drawn from life) while using the name Short to prevent most readers from identifying the Dowells. Contrary to its title, these typescripts are fragments. Both end in midsentence, long before Nellie’s death. Neither includes anything about Muriel’s life with Nellie or Kingsley Hall. Not a single word. On the basis of Nellie’s London Hospital records, I now know that these drafts take Nellie’s story up to 1910, the very year of Nellie’s earliest surviving letter.

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