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decorated initial 'F'or almost a century, Mary Elizabeth Braddon's works remained relatively obscure. She was not recognized as a canonical author until the rise of feminism and the consequent revision of the canon to include popular literature and many more professional female writers. For example, in one of the standard short reference works on the Victorian novel, Boris Ford's From Dickens to Hardy (1964) Braddon is not even mentioned; in George Ford's Victorian Fiction: A Second Guide to Research (1978), Curtis Dahl dismisses her as a "minor novelist" (29); however, in Andrew Sanders' The Short Oxford History of English Literature (1994, rev., 2004), Braddon receives an enthusiastic paragraph which alludes to her "inventive energy and narrative verve" (p. 446). Further, in Victorian Fiction (2002), in discussing domestic and gender politics Gail Marshall devotes several pages in the chapter "1856-1870: Questions of Identity" to Lady Audley's Secret and Collins's No Name.

Clearly her rehabilitation as a talented novelist with a social and feminist agenda is well under way. So complete is the current recognition of Braddon's contribution to English literature that a selection of her poetry appears in The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory (1999), ed. Thomas J. Collins and Vivienne J. Rundle, including her somewhat Tennysonian "Queen Guinevere" (923-24), which she published in 1861. From Milly Darrell in 1873 to My Sister's Confession, And Other Stories in 1879, her short stories such as "Eveline's Visitant" (1.862) and "John Granger" (1870) appeared in a number of anthologies and periodicals, and have appeared in eleven different anthologies since 1931.


Ford, Boris. From Dickens to Hardy. The Pelican Guide to English Literature, Vol. 6. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958, rev., 1964.

Ford, George H., ed. Victorian Fiction: A Second Guide to Research. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1978.

Marshall, Gail. Victorian Fiction. London and New York: Arnold and Oxford U. P., 2002.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 2004.

Wolff, Robert Lee. Sensational Victorian: The Life and Fiction of Mary Elizabeth Braddon. New York: Garland, 1979.

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Last updated 21 December 2006