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Part 1: Authors including Matilda Betham-Edwards, Florence Marryat, Helen Mathers, Charlotte Riddell, Dora Russell, Adeline Sergeant and Emma Jane Worboise

This project provides a significant collection of the kinds of novel which formed the mainstay of lending libraries in the later nineteenth century. Long out of print, they are now very rare and difficult to find, held by an extremely small number of libraries throughout the world.

The women authors represented were all popular, most were very prolific, and many reached huge audiences through newspaper serialisation in Britain and abroad in the last decades of the nineteeth century. Sensation and romance influences predominate, but these novels reflect a wide variety of styles and genres. This project is ideal for MA students, graduates and faculty doing comparative work, or for final year courses at undergraduate level.

Titles have been selected for inclusion by Dr Helen Debenham with this type of research in mind and taking care to avoid duplication with any other projects in this area.

Part 1
includes works by:

  • Florence Marryat (who in later life combined writing with a career as a professional actress).
  • Matilda Betham-Edwards (close friend of Henry James, Barbara Bodichon and George Eliot). 
  • Helen Mathers (Ellen Mathews - her first novel caught the popular imagination with its portrayal of destructive male sexuality).
  • Emma Jane Worboise (whose Thorneycroft Hall is a specific answer to
    Jane Eyre, Worboise often wrote for the religious market).
  • Dora Russell (autobiographer, feminist, educationist and peace campaigner).
  • Annie Thomas (later Mrs Pender Cudlip, who wrote more than 60 popular novels).
  • Adeline Sergeant (who wrote unashamedly for entertainment).
  • Charlotte Riddell (who made her name with novels about business).
  • Lucy Walford (her novel The Matchmaker was the last three-decker accepted by Mudie's).
  • John Strange Winter (Mrs Arthur Stannard - her Bootle's Baby sold
    2 million copies in ten years).
  • Ann Manning (whose first publication purports to be a journal of Milton's first wife, describing events from courtship to the early days of marriage).
  • Eglanton Thorne (Elizabeth Emily Charlton, writing in the 1890s).

"While these writers have, to date, been largely ignored because they wrote for the popular market, their collective contribution to the formation of late nineteenth century culture was immense."

Dr Helen Debenham, Consultant Editor for this microfilm project,

Department of English, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

It is intended that Part 2 will focus on Correspondence, Autograph Manuscripts and Literary Manuscripts.

Editorial introduction
Digital Guide
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