E.M. Hull and the Valentino cult: gender reversal after The sheik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In 1919 the now largely forgotten popular novelist E.M. Hull sparked a decade of infatuation with the ‘desert romance’ on the publication of her first book, The sheik. The obsession with the genre, fuelled by the release of Melford's 1921 film adaptation of the book, saw women swooning in the aisles at ‘screen god’ Rudolph Valentino's starring role. My aim here is to broaden the focus on Hull away from the much maligned novel, The sheik, by suggesting that Hull's subsequent novels, though never straying very far from the lucrative formula she cultivated with her first novel, were, in part at least, written in reaction to the uproar caused by this novel. I argue that Hull's representation of androgynous and cross-dressing women allows for her heroines to inhabit positions of relative power in relation to their male counterparts.


External organisations
  • University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • E.M. Hull, desert romance, cross-dressing, gender
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-182
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes