The University of Western Australia
The nineteenth-century author Dinah Mulock Craik (1826-1887) was, according to Henry James, obsessed with disability and it is certainly true that the disabled character features prominently in her writing. Despite a recent turn towards studying Craik’s representations of disability her engagement with the topic of care is yet to receive substantial criticism. In this paper I examine Craik’s representation of care in her 1875 children’s stories, The Little Lame Prince and his Travelling Cloak in order to examine the way in which Craik situates her characters within interdependent relationships, thus challenging the cultural myth of independence, and in doing so provides her disabled characters with the support and care they need to achieve agency. Whilst care is fundamental to our daily lives and social interactions, it remains a complex and problematic term haunted by the spectres of institutionalisation, paternalistic charities and the gendered notion that care is ‘women’s work’. This paper seeks to re-read narratives of care in order to challenge these ideas about care.