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In 1888, a little-known writer named Mona Caird ignited a firestorm of controversy when she published her essay Marriage in The Westminster Review, arguing that modern marriage was a failure. Over the six month period that followed, the journal received some 27,000 letters in response, and only the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper succeeded in finally turning attention away from the debate.
The following year, Caird published her three volume novel The Wing of Azrael, which incorporated many of her views on the status of women and the problems with modern marriage. Viola Sedley, an imaginative and independent young woman, finds herself falling in love with the dashing Harry Lancaster, but her parents have arranged a marriage for her with Sir Philip Dendraith in order to avert their own financial ruin. Viola believes she is doing her duty by acceding to her parents' wishes and marrying Philip, but she soon discovers that married life is intolerable to her. Tormented by her husband's cruelty and hemmed in by social conventions, Viola dreams of ways to escape the bondage of her marriage. And as her life becomes more and more wretched and her urge to be free becomes unbearable, Viola will find herself led inexorably toward a shocking and tragic fate!
First published in 1889, The Wing of Azrael has been out of print since its initial publication, and the original edition has survived in only a small handful of copies. This new scholarly edition of the novel features an introduction and notes by Tracey S. Rosenberg, as well as an appendix containing contemporary reviews of the novel and articles on Caird and the debate over marriage.