Untamed truth

May 24, 2002

The battle between a Victorian author and his publisher over a novel about female medical students is revealed in a book by academic David Finkelstein.

Dr Finkelstein, head of the media and communications department of Queen Margaret University College, found that publishers William Blackwood & Sons attempted to "tame" Charles Reade, whose 1876 novel, A Woman-Hater , was based on the difficulties faced by Sophia Jex-Blake in becoming an Edinburgh University medical student. She passed the exams but was unable to graduate since university regulations allowed medical degrees to be given only to men. "The publisher was trying to contain and dilute the message. Reade did dilute it, but he managed to sneak his main point through despite attempts to silence him."

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