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The Collected Letters of Rosina Bulwer Lytton


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In 1858, Rosina Bulwer Lytton, daughter of the early feminist Anna Wheeler, was incarcerated in a lunatic asylum by her husband, the eminent Victorian politician and novelist, Edward Bulwer Lytton. Although Rosina proved that she was sane and was released just over three weeks later, history has preserved her as Bulwer Lytton's mad wife. In fact, she was a clever and successful writer who published thirteen novels, a memoir, and several pamphlets and broadsheets. She was also a witty and prolific correspondent and used her pen to wage a life-long vendetta against her estranged husband. After the disintegration of their marriage, Rosina wrote letters to prominent figures in which she revealed details about Edward's mistresses and illegitimate children. She even alleged a sexual relationship between her husband and Disraeli. Her grandson compared reading her letters to 'opening a drawer full of dead wasps. Their venom is now powerless to hurt, but they still produce a shudder'.

Over 800 of Rosina's letters survive. This unique record reveals the innermost workings of the Victorian literary and political establishments. To date, only a fraction has been published; most remain in private collections.

This three volume edition presents newly transcribed letters from archives around the world. It will be of interest to Literature, Victorian Studies and Women's Studies scholars, as well as those studying the History of Madness.


- Collects correspondence from archives and private collections around the world, including a major holding at Knebworth House, UK

- All letters are newly transcribed, most have not been published before, and several are previously unknown

- Full editorial apparatus includes a general introduction setting the letters in their historical context; chronology; list of Rosina Bulwer Lytton's publications; biographical notes; genealogical charts; list of correspondents; recipient index; subject index

Bibliographical information:

Bulwer Lytton, Rosina, Baroness Lytton. The Collected Letters of Rosina Bulwer Lytton. Edited by Marie Mulvey-Roberts with Steve Carpenter. 3 vols. London; Brookfield, Vt.: Pickering & Chatto, 2008.

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