Australian and New Zealand Women’s Supernatural and Gothic Stories 1880–1924: Rosa Praed and Dulcie Deamer

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Abstract

There is relatively little critical work on the supernatural or Gothic stories of late nineteenth, and early twentieth century women writers from Australia and New Zealand. This essay concentrates on supernatural stories by Australian and New Zealand women writers from circa 1880 -1939 specifically Rosa Praed and Dulcie Deamer. Many of the terrors exposed in Australian and New Zealand Gothic and the supernatural derive from disequilibrium when immersed in confusing difference seen as foreign, or indigenous while work by women refuses the fin de siècle demonising of women’s sexuality and intertwines tales of lost children (Rosa Praed: 1851–1935) and domesticity challenged by powerful, but often ultimately punished transformation (Dulcie Deamer: 1890–1972). As women writers fascinated by and engaged in spiritualism and the occult, and as writers of the Gothic and supernatural alongside colonial, indigenous and other histories, Praed and Deamer channel the past, work with the occult, the witchy and the weird, explicitly exploring varied sexualities, foregrounding women’s experiences, challenging conformist roles for women, both themselves and their characters living alternative lifestyles. Their subject matter partly derives from both authors’ interests in spiritualism and their transiting between the Antipodes and Europe (Praed,) or New Zealand, Australia and the Far East/India (Deamer). I discuss the following stories: Rosa Praed “The Bunyip” (1891), “The Ghost Monk” (1908) “The House of Ill-Omen” (1908) and Dulcie Deamer: “As It Was in the Beginning” (1908) “Hallowe’en” (1909), “The Devil’s Ball” (1924).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-318
Number of pages24
JournalWomen's Writing
Volume29
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Deamer
  • devil
  • New Zealand
  • occult
  • Praed
  • spiritualism
  • witch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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