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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

Editorial Introduction by Dr Helen Debenham

“Nineteenth Century Women Writers provides a sample of the kind of novel which formed the mainstay of lending libraries in the later nineteenth century but have long been out of print. The women authors represented in this microfilm collection 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 century.

The collection will appeal to all scholars interested in later nineteenth-century British literature and popular culture. Its aim is to provide an introduction to the individual writers by making available some of the best-selling and characteristic of their works. The chronological spread of the texts will also enable a wide range of literary, social and thematic investigations. Although sensation and romance influences are predominant, the works reflect a variety of styles and genres. Emma Jane Worboise wrote for the religious market and is immensely readable. Worboise’s Thornycroft Hall is a specific answer to Jane Eyre. Others, such as Dora Russell, Annie Thomas, and Adeline Sergeant, wrote unashamedly for entertainment; Charlotte Riddell made her name with novels about business; Florence Marryat in later life combined writing with a career as a professional actress. Lucy Walford’s The Matchmaker was the last three-decker accepted by Mudie’s. Bootle’s Baby by John Strange Winter (Mrs Arthur Stannard) sold 2,000,000 copies in ten years.

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

Department of English, University of Canterbury

Christchurch, New Zealand



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