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Silver Fork Novels, 1826-1841


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The novels in this collection present a vivid picture of late Regency society clinging to modes of behaviour which would become obsolete a few years into the future, and mark an important point of transition to Victorian cultural values. They offer an opportunity to explore issues related to gender and gender roles. Four of the novels are by women writers; making them available in modern scholarly editions will lead to a wider understanding of the range of the contribution of female authors to new forms of fiction. In the rapidly developing field which studies constructions of masculinity in fiction, the novels offer a series of fascinating case studies in the form of the ubiquitous figure of the dandy which runs as a leitmotif through all the novels selected.

This edition will therefore be of interest to students of both the Romantic and the Victorian periods; social historians; literary historians, especially those with an interest in the recovery of forgotten texts; researchers in the field of British political history; feminist literary historians and literary theorists; scholars interested in gender studies or masculinities; and students focusing on the history of the novel in Britain. By extending the availability of out-of-print texts the edition will stimulate further criticism and research.


- Texts reprinted in full, reset and annotated

- General introduction and introduction to each novel

- List of textual variants at the end of each volume



Volume 1: Thomas Henry Lister, Granby: A Novel (1826)

Edited by Clare Bainbridge

Part-love story, part-comedy of manners, part-social satire, part-mystery, part-roman à clef, Granby - which has been justly celebrated for its sparkling dialogue - combines elements of Fielding, Richardson, Mackenzie, Burney and Austen into a fresh and lively mix which is very much a product of its own day.

Volume 2: Letitia Landon, Romance and Reality (1831)

Edited by Cynthia Lawford

Romance and Reality was one of the most hyped novels of its day, as its publishers were eager to cash in on public curiosity surrounding the first lengthy prose production by the popular 'L E L', author of five books of sentimental poems. A contemporary reviewer remarked that it 'must be read as a brilliant and sometimes profound commentary on the life of "this century of crowds"'. However, the 'century' can be fairly confined to the 1820s and 1830s, as their fast pursuits of pleasure would not be countenanced once the nation's governing queen became domesticated. Landon's commentary recovers that brilliant life in all its headiness and in the perceived dangers to the passions that its distracting enjoyments held out.

Volume 3: Edward Bulwer Lytton, Godolphin (1833)

Edited by Harriet Devine Jump

In this relatively early work Bulwer Lytton, who went on to become one of the most successful and highly regarded novelists of his era, produced a rich mixture of the themes which were closest to his own heart. London society in the early 1830s, the politics of Reform, astrology, and the occult, all combine in a novel with an exciting and thought-provoking plot.

Volume 4: Marguerite, Countess of Blessington, The Victims of Society (1837)

Edited by Ann Hawkins and Jeraldine Kraver

In The Victims of Society, Blessington's consideration of marriage in fashionable society examines the complex relationship between contemporary women and the society that dictates their behaviour. Blessington's novels were compelling for contemporary readers and will appeal to readers today for their wit and sophistication.

Volume 5: Rosina Bulwer Lytton, Cheveley: A Man of Honour (1839)

Edited by Marie Mulvey-Roberts

In 1826, the tempestuous marriage of Edward and Rosina Bulwer Lytton ended in separation. It launched Rosina's career as a novelist with Cheveley (1839), a roman á clef in which she took revenge on her husband for his mistreatment and neglect that included adultery and domestic violence. The subtitle, 'A Man of Honour', was intended as an ironic reference to his dishonourable behaviour. The mockery and public exposure was for Edward what Caroline Lamb's Glenarvon had been for Byron. Rosina exposed the gap between public morality and private conduct and, in so doing, challenged the Victorian double standard that applied to the conduct of men and women. Through a revelation of her own marital misery, Rosina indirectly championed the cause of women, particularly that of the wronged wife.

Volume 6: Catherine Gore, Cecil or the Adventures of a Coxcomb (1841)

Edited by Andrea Hibbard and Edward Copeland

Gore's Cecil, Or the Adventures of a Coxcomb, published anonymously and proffered as the memoirs of a dandy and companion to Lord Byron, is a brilliant satire of Regency society and a daring escape from the constraints of female propriety. In the words of William Makepeace Thackeray, Gore knew 'things which were to be as much out of the reach of female experience as shaving, duelling, or the bass viol.'

Bibliographical information:

Silver Fork Novels, 1826-1841. General editor, Harriet Devine Jump. 6 vols. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2005.

- Vol. 1. Lister, Thomas Henry. Granby: A Novel (1826). Edited by Clare Bainbridge

- Vol. 2. Landon, Letitia. Romance and Reality (1831). Edited by Cynthia Lawford

- Vol. 3. Bulwer Lytton, Edward. Godolphin. A Novel (1833). Edited by Harriet Devine Jump

- Vol. 4. Marguerite, Countess of Blessington. The Victims of Society (1837). Edited by Ann R. Hawkins and Jeraldine R. Kraver

- Vol. 5. Bulwer Lytton, Rosina. Cheveley: a Man of Honour (1839). Edited by Marie Mulvey-Roberts

- Vol. 6. Gore, Catherine. Cecil, Or the Adventures of a Coxcomb (1841). Edited by Andrea Hibbard and Edward Copeland.

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