Netta Syrett

Netta Syrett (17 March 1865 – 15 December 1943) was an English writer of the late Victorian period whose novels featured New Woman protagonists. Her novel Portrait of a Rebel was adapted into the 1936 film A Woman Rebels.

Netta Syrett
BornJanet Syrett
(1865-03-17)17 March 1865
Ramsgate, Kent
Died15 December 1943(1943-12-15) (aged 78)
Alma materHughes Hall, Cambridge
Literary movementRealism; New Woman
Notable worksThe Victorians (1915)
RelativesGrant Allen (uncle)


Early life and education

Netta Syrett was born Janet Syrett on 17 March 1865 in Ramsgate, Kent. She was one of five daughters born to silk merchant Ernest Syrett and the niece of writer Grant Allen.[1] First educated at home by their mother and a German governess, Syrett left home at age 11 to attend North London Collegiate School. She continued her education at Hughes Hall, Cambridge where she completed the three years' coursework necessary for a full teaching certificate in one year.[2]


Syrett taught for two years at a school in Swansea before accepting a post at the London Polytechnic School for Girls. Through her friend and coworker Mabel Beardsley, Netta met Aubrey Beardsley, Mabel's brother, and through him she was introduced to Henry Harland and included in his circle of friends. Harland published three of her short stories in the Yellow Book.

Syrett's first novel, Nobody's Fault (1896), was published by The Bodley Head in their Keynote series. Her writing and teaching careers coincided until 1902, when her play The Finding of Nancy received negative attention after Clement Scott, writing for the Daily Telegraph (9 May 1902), insinuated that the play was thinly disguised autobiography. Syrett was asked to resign her teaching position after a student's mother read Scott's review. By that time, novel writing had become for her "a sure thing" and Syrett continued to turn out a novel per year until retiring in 1939.[2]

Death and afterward

Syrett died in London on 15 December 1943 following a long illness.[3]

Published works


      • "Lady Gem" published by Hutchinson &co,Paternoster Row,E.C


  • The Finding of Nancy (1902)[6]
  • Two Domestics (1922)

Short stories

  • "Sylvia" (Macmillan's, 1891)
  • "Thy Heart's Desire" (Yellow Book, July 1894)
  • "A Correspondence" (Yellow Book, October 1895)
  • "Her Wedding Day" (Quarto, 1896)
  • "Fairy-Gold" (Temple Bar, 1896)
  • "Far Above Rubies" (Yellow Book, January 1897)
  • "Chiffon" (Pall Mall, 1900)
  • "A Revelation in Arcadia" (Harper's, August 1902)[7]
  • "Poor Little Mrs. Villiers" (Venture, 1903)
  • "An Idealist" (Harper's, May 1903)[7]
  • "A Common Occurrence" (Harper's, February 1904)[7]
  • "Madame de Meline" (Acorn, October 1905)
  • "The Street of the Four Winds" ("The Jabberwock". May 1906)

Children's books

Other works

  • The story of Saint Catherine of Siena (1910)
  • Sketches of European History (1931)
  • The Sheltering Tree (autobiography, 1939)


  1. Carolyn Christensen Nelson, ed. (1 June 2000). "Netta Syrett". A New Woman Reader: Fiction, Articles, and Drama of the 1890s. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press. p. 356. ISBN 1-55111-295-7. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  2. (2006) "Netta Syrett" in Jill Tedford Jones: Dictionary of Literary Biography. Gale Thomson.
  3. "NETTA SYRETT; British Author Wrote 30 Novels; Many Children's Stories". New York Times. 19 December 1939.
  4. "A CASTLE OF DREAMS". The New York Times. 2 October 1909. p. BR585.
  5. "Review of Drender's Daughter by Netta Syrett". The Athenæum (no. 4360): 564. 20 May 1911.
  6. "A PRIZE PLAY IN LONDON; "The Finding of Nancy," Crowned by the Playgoers' Club, Performed at the St. James's Theatre". The New York Times. 9 May 1902. p. 8.
  7. "Syrett, Netta (Harper's Magazine)".
  8. serialised in Our Jabberwock 1907
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