This chapter examines English modernist versions of Charles Perrault’s French fairy tale, “Bluebeard,” and how the authors used the story to comment on feminism. It looks at the emergence of detective fiction during the years of World War I and influenza pandemic of 1918, and the strain of misogyny evident in the crime stories about Bluebeard. The chapter discusses the works of three women writers who explicitly addressed the Bluebeard story as a vehicle to comment on gender relations and to issue a modernist challenge to the traditional narrative: Beatrix Potter’s novella Sister Anne (1932), Sylvia Townsend Warner’s short story “Bluebeard’s Daughter” in The Cat’s Cradle-Book (1940), and Eudora Welty’s novella The Robber Bridegroom (1942). It also discusses modern film versions of Bluebeard such as In Love from a Stranger (1937) and Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938), as well as the so-called “Bluebeard cycle” of films including Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), and Secret Beyond the Door (1948).
Keywords: Charles Perrault, fairy tale, Bluebeard, feminism, detective fiction, Beatrix Potter, novella, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Eudora Welty