ELLA D'ARCY (1851-1939)
Ella D’Arcy was born in London in
1851 to Irish parents and educated in Germany and France. Initially,
D’Arcy studied to become a visual artist but problems with her eyesight lead her to
turn to fiction writing as an alternative. Before her appearance in
The Yellow Book’s first volume, D’Arcy had published some of
her work in Charles Dickens’s
All the Year Round, as well as in
Blackwood’s Magazine and
Previous publishers had refused to publish D’Arcy’s short story “
Irremediable” because they felt her treatment of
marriage was inappropriate. Her story, which describes the dire reality of a loveless
marriage from the male perspective, lead the editor of
Blackwood’s to insist that “marriage was a sacrament and should not be
treated so summarily” (Mix 234). Her fiction style won acclaim, however, from
Henry Harland and
circle. She worked with Harland as assistant editor for the
periodical’s three-year run. D’Arcy was also a long-time friend of the writer Charlotte Mew, a
contributor herself, who was in love with D’Arcy.
Both D’Arcy’s style and subject matter were ground-breaking, challenging traditional
morality as much as conventional narrative styles. Her writing also questioned the
standard representations of women. Of her place in English fiction, William C. Frierson has said that “the intimate
and unromantic detail which characterized her presentations forecast the
unsentimental analyses of the late English realists” (qtd. in Mix 235). In
1895, D’Arcy saw the publication of her first collection of short
Monochromes. This was followed in
1898 by another entitled
She published the novel
The Bishop’s Dilemma that same
year. D’Arcy also translated André Maurois’s
biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley,
Ariel, into English. D’Arcy died in 1939.
© 2010, Ruth Knecthel
Ruth Knechtel completed her Doctorate at York University in Toronto. She has
English Literature in Transition and
Victorians Institute Journal. In addition, Ruth is in the
process of building
The New Woman Online, a searchable
environment including rare documents related to the concept of nineteenth and
twentieth century womanhood. Currently, she teaches at the University of
Selected Publications by D’Arcy
The Bishop’s Dilemma. London: John Lane at The
Bodley Head, 1898.
- “The Death Mask.”
The Yellow Book , Vol. 10 (July
Ella D'Arcy: Some Letters to John Lane. Ed. Alan
Anderson. Edinburgh: Tragara, 1990.
- “An Engagement.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 8 (Jan.
- “In Normandy.”
Temple Bar 130.529 (Dec. 1904):
The Yellow Book, Vol. 1 (April
- “A Marriage.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 11 (Oct. 1896):
Modern Instances. London: John Lane at The Bodley Head,
Monochromes. London: John Lane at The Bodley Head;
Boston: Roberts Bros.,1895.
- “The Pleasure-Pilgrim.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 5
(April 1895): 34-67.
- “Poor Cousin Louis.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 2 (July
- “Sir Julian Garve.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 13 (Apr.
- “At Twickenham.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 12 (Jan.
- “The Villa Lucienne.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 10
(July 1896): 274-85.
- “The Web of Maya.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 6 (Oct.
- “White Magic.”
The Yellow Book, Vol. 3 (Oct. 1894):
- "Yellow Book Celebrities." Ed. Benjamin Franklin.
Literature in Transition (1880- 1920)
37.1 (1994): 33-37.
Selected Publications about D’Arcy
- Beckson, Karl. “Ella D'Arcy, Aubrey Beardsley and the Crisis at The Yellow
Book: A New Letter.”
Notes and Queries 26 (1979):
- Fisher, Benjamin Franklin. “The American Reception of Ella D'Arcy.”
Victorian Periodicals Review 28.3 (Fall 1995):
- ---. “Christianity in the Fiction of Ella D'Arcy.”
15.2 (1995): 29-37.
- ---. “Ella D’Arcy Reminisces,”
English Literature in
(1880-1920). 37.1 (1994): 28-32.
- Fisher, Benjamin Franklin, and Michael P. Dean, eds. “Ella D'Arcy, First Lady
of the Decadents.”
University of Mississippi Studies in
10 (1992): 238- 49.
- Maier, Sarah E. “Subverting the Ideal: The New Woman and the Battle of the
Sexes in the Short Fiction of Ella D'Arcy.”
20.1 (Summer 1994): 35-48.
- Mix, Katherine Lyon.
A Study in Yellow: The Yellow Book
and its Contributors
. London: Constable, 1960.
- Stetz, Margaret D. “Turning Points: Ella D'Arcy.”
Turn-of-the-Century Women 3.1 (Summer 1986): 1-14.
- Stetz, Margaret D. and Mark Samuels Lasner.
Book: A Centenary Exhibition
. Cambridge: The Houghton Library,
- Windholz, Anne M. “The Woman Who Would Be Editor: Ella D'Arcy and the Yellow
Victorian Periodicals Review 29.2 (Summer 1996):
- See also: Fisher, Benjamin Franklin. “Ella D'Arcy: A Commentary with a Primary
and Annotated Secondary Bibliography.”
English Literature in
35.2 (1992): 179-211.
Knechtel, Ruth. "Ella D'Arcy (1851-1939)."
Yellow Nineties Online
. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen
Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [Date of access].