Description

English

Keynotes (1893) is a collection of short stories by George Egerton, the pseudonym of Mary Chavelita Dunne (1859–1945), born in Melbourne. The stories explore relationships between women across class barriers, and include open discussions of women’s sexuality – controversial subjects at this time.

Egerton’s view of women’s sexuality provides the basis for relationships which are more egalitarian than hierarchical. She wrote in A Keynote to Keynotes (1932):

I realised that in literature, everything had been better done by man than woman could hope to emulate. There was one small plot left for her to tell; the terra incognita of herself, as she knew herself to be, not as man liked to imagine her – in a word to give herself away, as man had given himself in his writings.

Though Egerton was opposed to the suffragette movement, her fiction is associated with ‘New Woman’ writing.   

The book is dedicated to Knut Hamsun, a former lover. However, her pseudonym was a combination of names taken from her husband, Egerton Clairmonte, and her mother, Isobel George.

Transcript