Victorian Secrets

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about, and adding to, my collection of obscure Victorian novelists. When I say "obscure" I realise that in their day these writers were amongst the most popular and voraciously read and that it is only more modern tastes which have relegated them to obscurity. Up until now, that is.There are an increasing number of publishers providing us with an excellent selection of writers whose books have long been out of print.

I have always found it tantalising that many of the Victorian authors I love have written  books which, until recently, I thought I would always struggle to find outside an academic library. The problem is that there are so many titles and authors now available that I don't know where to start!

I have collected Victorian novels for years. I can still remember the pleasure of finding a collection of Mrs Henry Wood's novels in Ewan Kerr's bookshop in Cartmel. I know, I must remember to call her Ellen Wood! They were all handsomely rebound and cost me the princely sum of £7 each! I have added to my collection when, and wherever, possible. Virago reprints have proved a rich seam as has Pandora Press. From time to time, I have added an original publication to my collection.

Recently, however, I have discovered Broadview and Victorian Secrets - very exciting! Both publishers publish handsome reprints of long out of print classics including Rhoda Brougton, Florence Marryat and M E Braddon. I have acquired a small selection from each publisher and I am so impressed with the quality of the books. Fantastic introductions, bibliographies and biographical notes.

I have immediately embarked on M E Braddon's Henry Dunbar, a book I have never read before. The first few chapters suggest that the novel will have all the usual  classic ingredients of a sensation novel, including murder, fraud, mistaken identity, and a train accident. Many critics have seen Braddon's work as foreshadowing the later crime genre.