Some Thoughts on the Careers of Agnes Grey and Becky Sharp as Early Nineteenth Century Governesses

  In my last post, I wrote about the realistic – and fairly dismal – depiction of a governess’ life in the England of the first part of the nineteenth century to be found in Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’ , and contrasted her dismal life with the wild and harrowing adventures that are Jane Eyre’s … Continue reading Some Thoughts on the Careers of Agnes Grey and Becky Sharp as Early Nineteenth Century Governesses

Anne Brontë’s ‘Agnes Grey’: A Melancholy Story with a Happy Ending

I first read Anne Brontë’s ‘Agnes Grey’ a long time ago – in my early twenties – about the time that I first read ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. I believe a fair number of people consider it her masterpiece in its brevity and tight plotting. I can see it has those features, but I … Continue reading Anne Brontë’s ‘Agnes Grey’: A Melancholy Story with a Happy Ending

More on ‘Wuthering Heights’ : The Notorious Absence of a Wholly Sympathetic Character and a Moral Compass.

I am still reading  that fascinating book by Marianne Thormëhelen, ‘The Brontës and Religion’, and it raises a point that had vaguely occurred to me, but which the author brings into sharp focus. There is no character in ‘Wuthering Heights’ with whom the reader is meant to identify, who is depicted as generally sympathetic – … Continue reading More on ‘Wuthering Heights’ : The Notorious Absence of a Wholly Sympathetic Character and a Moral Compass.

Heathcliff – No Romantic Hero: Vengeance and Forgiveness in ‘Wuthering Heights’.

I have recently been reading Marianne Thormählen’s fascinating book ‘The Brontës and Religion’ (Cambridge University Press 1999). I shouldn’t be. Really, I should be doing more research into the social background of the UK in the early Georgian era for my latest – but I couldn’t resist it. I came across it through its mention … Continue reading Heathcliff – No Romantic Hero: Vengeance and Forgiveness in ‘Wuthering Heights’.

The Anti-Heroine

I have often thought, on and off, what a shame it is how few anti-heroines there are in both traditionally published and self published fiction. Anti -heroes suffer from overpopulation in the fiction world- particularly in romance – but their female equivalents seem thin on the ground. This anyway, is my experience, but maybe I … Continue reading The Anti-Heroine

Some Popular Victorian Reading: ‘Jack Sheppard: A Romance ‘ by Harrison Ainsworth.

These last few days, I have been reading Harrison Ainsworth’s ‘Jack Sheppard.’  I knew little about this writer before, save that he wrote sensationalist literature at about the same time as Charles Dickens, including a novel called ‘Rookswood’ which reputedly featured a highly glamorised version of Dick Turpin. It seems that he was at one … Continue reading Some Popular Victorian Reading: ‘Jack Sheppard: A Romance ‘ by Harrison Ainsworth.

Formulaic Writing: Romantic Melodrama and Charles Garvice, ‘The Great Bad Novelist’.

I have written before on this blog about the terrible allure of bad writing, both good bad writing, that is, writing that is so bad it’s good – like ‘Rinaldo Rinaldini: Captain of Bandetti’  and frankly terrible writing. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading another late Victorian best seller by that writer … Continue reading Formulaic Writing: Romantic Melodrama and Charles Garvice, ‘The Great Bad Novelist’.

Victorian Sexuality and Prudery: Some Victorian Novels

  The following article follows a line that has become more popular in recent years. This suggests that the previous view, that Victorian’s were repressed regarding sexuality, and prudish to the point of hiding the legs of tables by long tablecloths, was at the least, exaggerated. It argues that in fact, sexuality was widely discussed … Continue reading Victorian Sexuality and Prudery: Some Victorian Novels

Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’: A Harrowing Depiction of Poverty in the UK of the Early Industrial Revolution.

I have recently been re-reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’. I thought I had long since written a review of it; it seems not. This is, of course, Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, published in 1847. It established her reputation as a writer who sympathized with the poor and oppressed, the workers in industrial Lancashire who were … Continue reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’: A Harrowing Depiction of Poverty in the UK of the Early Industrial Revolution.

Those Necessary Sympathetic, Rounded Characters: A Classic Novel Without Them

'Sylvia's Lovers' by Elizabeth Gaskell in one sentence: 'Philip Hepburn worships Sylvia Robson, and finds dishonour; Sylvia Robson worships Charley Kinraid, and finds disillusionment; Charley Kinraid worships himself, and finds a wife who agrees with him and a career in the Royal Navy.’