Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Baker, William, 1944-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Thompson; Flora--Criticism and interpretation; English literature--Women authors--19th century--History and criticism; Women authors; English--19th century--History and criticism


This dissertation is a revaluation of Flora Thompson (1876-1947), an English writer known primarily for Lark Rise to Candleford (1945), a trilogy set in rural Oxfordshire during the 1880s and 1890s. Because the Oxford University Press classified Lark Rise to Candleford as an autobiography, it has been used as a primary source by agricultural historians such as G.E. Mingay and by social historians such as Pamela Horn in their studies of Victorian country life. Lark Rise to Candleford continues to be regarded as Thompson’s only significant work. The prize-winning essays, short fiction, nature essays, and literature essays that Thompson published in women’s periodicals in the 1910s and 1920s have never been studied, preventing a true estimation of Thompson’s career as a working writer. The focus of this dissertation is on Flora Thompson’s oeuvre, particularly the published works that have not been studied. Chapter 1 provides a biographical sketch and overview of Flora Thompson’s career as a poet, freelance journalist, and autobiographer/novelist. Chapter 2 reviews the critical and scholarly reception of Lark Rise to Candleford and Thompson’s other published books. Chapters 3 and 4 examine The Peverel Papers, a work crucial to an accurate assessment of Thompson’s literary legacy. Chapter 5 focuses on Thompson’s minor works: her short stories, poetry, and literature essays. Chapter 6 examines Lark Rise to Candleford, Heatherley, and Still Glides the Stream, arguing for equal critical consideration of these works. Alternative critical approaches to the trilogy, including treating the trilogy as a work of fiction, are also discussed. Chapter 7 examines Thompson’s depiction of the intellectual life of the rural working classes, as found in the subtext of Lark Rise to Candleford and Heatherley. Chapter 8 corrects the current view of Thompson’s literary legacy by summarizing her accomplishments as a freelance journalist and novelist. Appendix A lists the sources of literary quotations in The Peverel Papers. Appendix B contains the frill text of poems discussed in Chapter 5. Appendix C lists the subjects of the literature essays that Thompson published in The Fireside Reading Circle. Appendix D summarizes Thompson’s unpublished novel, Gates of Eden.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [282]-293).


ix, 307 pages




Northern Illinois University

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