A Music of Her Own: The Power of Music in Dollie Radford’s Songs and Other Verses

Proceedings of ‏The 3rd International Conference on Research in Humanities

Year: 2021

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.33422/3rd.icrh.2021.03.20

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A Music of Her Own: The Power of Music in Dollie Radford’s Songs and Other Verses

Hadeel Jamal Azhar



This article explores Dollie Radford’s depiction of music in her second volume of poetry, Songs and Other Verses (1895), engaging with increasing arguments about the subversive meaning of musical references in Victorian literature and culture. It shows how Radford, like her contemporary women poets, places musical settings and instruments in her work to challenge prevailing perceptions of women’s naivety, simultaneously suggesting physical intimacy. Building on the discussion raised by Emily Harrington, who identified Radford’s use of songs and music in A Light Load (1891) in association with waiting for the new (Harrington, 2014: 144), the argument presented herein offers a further, yet more subversive, reading of Radford’s engagement with the theme, which is in line with the revolutionary changes of late-Victorian England. The analysis of the selected poems shows how Radford uses what were once perceived as feminine traits to revolt against patriarchal norms and confront misogynist conventions. Thus, the article contributes to the existing body of literature on Victorian women poets, filling the gap on an intriguing subject from which Radford’s name and poetry are still overlooked.

Keywords: music, poetry, Radford, songs, Victorian, women.