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Radical Reformers and Respectable Rebels : How the Two Lives of Grace Oakeshott Defined an Era

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The fin de siècle was a time of social and cultural upheaval, with many women living more adventurous and defiant lives than their mothers could ever have dreamed. This is a true story of one Englishwoman's attempt to stage her own death and re-invent herself in the far colony of New Zealand, in the early 1900s. Grace Oakeshott's life is revealed through the reform movements of the period, including education for girls, ethical socialism, Victorian evangelicalism, and the changing nature of marriage. As a social activist, Grace rubbed shoulders with many notable figures, including William Morris, H. G. Wells, and Sydney and Beatrice Webb. Jocelyn Robson uses a rich collection of historical sources, including contemporary fiction and social commentary, archive documents and old newspapers, and interviews with surviving family members. Through the lives of Grace and those close to her we discover what drove people to act in extraordinary (as well as ordinary) ways.

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