The Private and Public Life of Nellie Stewart's Bangle
This paper charts the relationship between Nellie Stewart, one of Australia's first stage celebrities of light opera and the origin of a style of gold bangle that became ubiquitous in Australian feminine jewellery adornment, as an outward sign of romantic attachment, reaching a level of mass production and consumption by the early twentieth century. The aim of this paper is to bring to light, through archival research, the forgotten origin and connection of this bangle with the once iconic popular culture figure of Stewart. In retracing a reconnection with this forgotten origin in popular Australian memory, this paper explores celebrity status in late nineteenth century. It is arguable that once this style of bangle became more commonplace in its production and consumption, the connection with Nellie Stewart became more diluted and tenuous within living, popular memory. Another, more important layer of discussion concerns the history of the bangle, notably as ceremonial wedding gift, and a sad irony revealed about the public and private nature of this bangle as a gift of binding love.
Journal of Popular Romance Studies
Culture, Gender, Sexuality