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The women's sensation novel of the 1860s and the New Woman fiction of the 1890s were two of the most prominent examples of a perceived feminine invasion of fiction, which caused a critical furore in their day. In Victorian fiction the proper feminine stood for propriety, domesticity, chastity and the maternal. The women's sensation novel and the New Woman fiction, with their shocking, fast' heroines, fired the popular imagination by putting female sexuality on the literary agenda and undermining the feminine ideal. By exploring the improper' feminine and the material and discursive conditions in which the women's sensation novel and the New Woman fiction were produced, Lyn Pykett investigates the nature of this irruption of the feminine. In exploring its contemporary cultural significance, she draws attention to important gendered interrelationships within the literary and wider cultures of mid-Victorian and fin-de-siecle periods. The first comparative analysis of two key women's genres, this illuminating study will be of continuing interest for both present-day feminists and students of Victorian literature and culture.