The Castle of Montabino

The Castle of Montabino

The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance

Author: Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson
Publisher: Dean and Munday
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Book Dimensions:  12 cm x 19.5 cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.W55 C 1810


The Castle of Montabino by Sarah Wilkinson is a riveting narration of mystery and adventure in early 1800’s Italy, centralizing around two sisters’ daring escape from the clutches of their cruel uncle.


Material History

The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance is a lengthily-titled, 38-page work of gothic fiction authored by Sarah Wilkinson. Originally, the contents of the book were stored in a fragile pamphlet of pages consisting of a blue cover and backing.  However, the book was later rebound, and is currently held in a cardstock-weight tan binding. The novel does not appear particularly aesthetically pleasing as the exterior is bland, lacking an intriguing cover and decorative effects. The contents of the book, however, tell a more interesting story. Within the yellowed, aged pages of Wilkinson’s story are small splotches, stains, tears, and other mysterious man-made marks. These pages, containing the actual text, are quite delicate, uneven in length, and frayed at the ends as if torn.

This page shows the bluebook cover, and a catalogue of books printed and sold by the publisher

The first page of the text, or the introductory catalogue, is a detailed table of books printed on faded turquoise-blue parchment paper. This catalogue contains a list of the various works, including The Castle of Montabino, mentioning that they were all printed and sold by the same publisher. The full title of the book appears on the title page after this catalogue, and interestingly, the author’s name is quite inconspicuous, wedged between the full title, the publisher’s name, and a small drawing. Wilkinson is only mentioned as the author once throughout the whole course of the text.

A frontispiece precedes the title page. This is a larger, well-depicted illustration of three women who appear to be kneeling in fear within a castle. The expressions on their faces are contorted and overdramatized, indicating astonishment and fright. Under this image is a caption with the words, “The Castle of Montabino.” The second, smaller drawing is on the title page, and resembles a lightly sketched depiction of a miniature castle surrounded by a few trees. Both images are black and white, appearing relatively simple without ornate detailing or vibrant colors.

The remainder of the book is solely text, containing no other visual aids or sources which depict scenarios relevant to the plot. While the pages are saturated with words and there is not a lavish amount of white space, there is a generous amount of contrast between the paragraphs and spaces so that the reader is not overwhelmed by a mass of text. The font is large enough to easily read, comparable with 12-point font. The dimensions of the book in terms of the external length and width are 19.5 cm by 12 cm. The lengths of the pages within the book are varied as some of the pages are more worn or torn slightly more than others. Additionally, the turquoise blue introductory page and cover are significantly smaller than the yellowed pages with the contents of the text. The material on which the text is printed is a thinner version of printer paper, more aged and discolored than expected. With a tawny yellowish-tan color, the pages appear not only frail, but slightly brittle as well. A few interesting post-production marks found on some pages within the text include an inked signature on the catalogue which appears to spell the word “Montabino” in fluid cursive, along with smaller, more arbitrary pencil markings within the text containing dates and numbers.


Textual History

Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson, the author of The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance, was a novelist known as one of the most prolific female gothic fiction writers of her time (Potter 109–10). She wrote and published over a hundred works of fiction, almost half of which were chapbooks. Many of her works were adaptations of previously existing novels, romances in particular (Baines). Many of Wilkinson’s pieces such as The Thatched Cottage and A Visit to London were abridgements. The Castle of Montabino, however, was her original work. Interestingly enough, Wilkinson is one of the few female authors whose names were printed and made visible within her published texts. Not only was her presence in the gothic fiction realm immense in the early nineteenth century, but some of her writings were also so popular that they were reprinted and recirculated multiple times (Baines). Some of Wilkinson’s more popular works included The History of Crazy Jane, Monkcliffe Abbey, and The Maid of Lochlin. By contrast, The Castle of Montabino, however, was not considered to be one of Wilkinson’s most notable or highly received works, and appears to have been less-known. 

Title page for The Castle of Montabino

Unfortunately, Wilkinson faced many difficulties in her early writing career. She was born into a lower middle-class family, living on the border of poverty in the heart of London. This continued on into her adult life as she was widowed, struggling to support herself and her family with multiple odd occupations. She held a variety of small jobs including being a schoolteacher, running a circulating library, and taking in boarders (Potter, 110–11). Simultaneously, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, leading her to petition the Royal Literary Fund for aid. She cited not only these medical issues, but the difficulty of earning a decent income as a female (Baines). Ultimately, she was fortunate enough to receive this aid and was able to continue writing and publishing until her death. 

Wilkinson’s interesting background and experiences are reflected in her bold, unconventional writing. While she did fit into the framework of gothic style, she combined typical gothic elements with more realistic aspects of daily life, making subtle statements about societal constructs and the social position of women (Baines). She was known to have mocked or satirized mainstream gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe, depicting diametrically opposing themes such as female social liberation and freedom in her works, The Castle of Montabino being one. Rather than catering to the higher classes, Wilkinson’s works were aimed at the literate, lower-class population, specifically women. Not only did she combine typical gothic tropes with the supernatural, she also focused on the themes of female subjectivity, gender, and identity. This innovative aspect of her writing marked her as a breakthrough female gothic fiction author (Hoeveler, 3–4).

The particular edition of The Castle of Montabino held in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library was published around 1810 by Dean and Munday Publishers. In total, there are two editions and several physical copies of these two editions held in libraries across the world. In addition to the copies at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library, databases indicate that the book is also at Duke University Libraries, UCLA, Northwestern, and The British Library in London. Additionally, there is an online edition of the text available with free access for the public through Chawton House Libraries (WorldCat). Different library databases and collections cite either 1809 or 1810 as the approximate time the work was printed. There is a second edition that was published around the same time, but by S. Bailey instead of the initial publishers, Dean and Munday. While the University of Virginia library catalog indicates that it is published by Dean and Munday, the interior catalogue of the text features a table of books, including The Castle of Montabino, as being printed and sold by S.Bailey.

This page shows the shortened title of the book, and an image of three women who appear to be hunched over, fearfully looking towards a dark, cloaked figure standing in an archway

The intriguing details regarding the history of the publishing of The Castle of Montabino originate with the relationship between Dean and Munday and S. Bailey, also known as Susan Bailey. The two publishing entities were thought to have had familial ties, providing a possible explanation for the reprinting and production of two copies around the same time frame (“Movable Stationary”). Among many of Wilkinson’s works, it is a common theme that most of the pieces are published by either S. Bailey or Dean and Munday, sometimes even both. Dean and Munday as a publication company was said to have been effective in their advertising, cultivating a name as the largest supplier of movable children’s books and chapbooks, fitting Wilkinson’s niche. The company primarily published fiction chapbooks in the form of bluebooks: small, thin paper pamphlets with turquoise-blue covers and backings, illustrated clearly through the visual appearance of The Castle of Montabino (“Movable Stationary”).

Not only was Wilkinson considered an influential author of her time, but she is also studied by contemporary scholars. She is mentioned as a female gothic pioneer with her works being cited in Franz Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing. She is often referred to as one of the most productive and gifted writers in the field, introducing bold and daring concepts for her time period (Hoeveler 3–4). Wilkinson’s impact on the development of gothic fiction is also a major focal point of discussion in Ellen Malenas Ledoux’s Social Reform in Gothic Writing. Ledoux particularly analyzes what she calls the “working-class gothic in The Castle of Montabino (77).


Narrative Point of View

The Castle of Montabino is narrated in the third-person omniscient by an anonymous narrator who is never discussed or mentioned within the text. The narration is often convoluted and consists of lengthy paragraphs that occasionally form tangents away from the central plot. The narration focuses on the internal feelings and emotions of the characters briefly during the beginning of the book through dialogue and description. Later on, this focus shifts to a centralization around action and details of the core events in the plot. The language utilized throughout the text is intricate and verbose, and transitions from one event to another often blend together. In addition, the narration is extremely hurried and events are often grouped together, depicted as occurring back to back with no pause in between.

Sample Passage:

“Thanks be to heaven,” said the Signor, her apprehensions and suspense will now be converted to joy. “Then, turning to the servants, he said—“I think I scarce need repeat any injunctions of secresy.”— “We are faithful, and would die to prove it,” was the general reply. He asked a few questions, and being informed that the Countess had ordered breakfast not to be on table till two, he proposed retiring till that hour, and Laurinda conducted the ladies and Beatrice to their respective chambers. The sisters were so much fatigued with travelling, that they were not able to converse with their usual facility; and after a few remarks, they fell into a profound slumber, from which they did not awake till the entrance of Beatrice, who came to assist them in dressing; Laurinda having supplied her with the necessary articles for that purpose. At two they descended to the breakfast saloon; Signor Rupino and the Countess were ready to receive them, the former paid them the usual compliments, in a most elegant and flattering speech, the lady spoke not- yet she cordially pressed their hands,—heavy sighs distended her bosom, and she sobbed most piteously. The Signor apologized for the Countess’s not speaking to them; he said that their presence had awakened some bitter recollections that had overcome her. She wore a thick muslin veil, and she took great care, while eating her breakfast, that no part of her face should be seen. Before their repeat was concluded, they were joined by the two gentlemen who had always accompanied Signor Rupino and the Countess in the boat; the latter whispered something to the Countess, they retired together to one of the open balconies (15).

This particular narrative style creates a fast-paced story due to the fleeting portrayal of events. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish the start of one event and the end of another due to the fact that both the sentences and paragraphs are long and strung out. The events are portrayed as occurring one after the other, and the narration significantly contributes to the sudden nature of transitions within the plot. This aspect of the narration along with some obscured language makes it hard to identify certain contexts or intervals. In illustrating the sister’s journey in the passage above, the narrator mentions, “The sisters were so much fatigued with travelling, that they were not able to converse with their usual facility; and after a few remarks, they fell into a profound slumber, from which they did not awake till the entrance of Beatrice, who came to assist them in dressing; Laurinda having supplied her with the necessary articles for that purpose” (15). This sentence highlights the quantity of condensed details within particular points of the narration, offering an example of the culmination of ideas that are often presented in a short period of time.


Summary

The Castle of Montabino is a short gothic story set in Italy in the early nineteenth century. The plot places specific focus on Emillia and Theresa, two recently orphaned sisters faced with peril after the passing of their aunt, the Countess. The novel begins by describing the somber mood within the castle, and the despair experienced by the two sisters. Emillia and Theresa convey that they do not wish to reside in the Castle at Montabino under the care of their cold and cruel uncle, the Count. In their private apartment, they discuss their plan to escape from the castle with the help of mysterious, unidentified companions. These companions—three noble, well dressed men and one woman, soon arrive at the castle by boat. They dock their boat under the window of the sisters’ apartment, confirming their role in aiding the girls with their escape. The mysterious figures state that the two sisters are nearing imminent danger, and that they must take action in immediately ensuring their safety.

Theresa and Emillia agree that escaping from the castle the next day is the most suitable option, and they begin to make the proper arrangements to do so. Subsequently, Emillia and Theresa proceed with their normal lifestyles within the castle, engaging with their domestic employees Susette, Cosmo, and Judith. During this time, Judith, Emillia, and Theresa make the startling discovery that a ghost occupies the castle, causing slight turmoil and fright. While the sisters express their dismay at leaving their beloved employees, Susette and Judith, in the castle with the presence of a ghost, they ultimately make their daring escape that night. Following the instructions given to them by their mysterious friends, the sisters travel through arched recesses and narrow tunnels, exiting the castle and entering a desolate area filled with ruins.

Unfortunately, they cross paths with two cloaked figures. Startled, they hide behind fragments of stone, concealing themselves to avoid discovery. During this time, they learn the identity of the cloaked figures: a man named Gusmond and his servant Hugo. Their sole purpose for entering the desolate area at such an odd hour was to bury a child. The men banter about preserving secrecy and concealing the events that were to transpire, mentioning that if anyone were to find out, the Count would punish them harshly.

A page of sample text for The Castle of Montabino

After the men leave, Theresa and Emillia hastily arrive at their set meeting point, waiting in anticipation for their transportation to arrive. They discuss the strange, dreadful mystery that plagues the Castle, their relief at escaping the clutches of the Count and their hopes to never be found by him or ever return. Shortly after, the sisters are met by their companions and introduced to their attendants, Signor Rupino and Beatrice. They embark upon a carriage, and ride until dawn, taking shelter at a deserted castle for a while, restarting their journey at dusk, and later arriving at a cottage where they again take rest. Their travel progresses until they arrive at a villa quite distant from the castle. It is here that the sisters learn a treacherous secret: the Count had ordered Cosmo to poison his wife. Cosmo, unable to go through with this order, deceived the Count and instead aided the Countess in escaping under a guise. 

Upon hearing this news, the sisters are overjoyed, invigorated yet shocked by the thought of seeing their aunt. Shortly after, the sisters are reunited with the Countess, who begins to reveal the details of her story. She narrates her childhood, mentioning the hard work and sacrifices her father made to accumulate wealth and provide for the family. Leading up to the moment she was introduced to the Count, she recalls the party during which she was acquainted with him. Soon after, the Count became a frequent visitor, and made numerous proposals for the now-Countess’ hand in marriage. They were quickly married, and she soon came to realize his true intention, which was to gain wealth from her family through their union. Moreover, after the untimely death of her father, the Count refused the Countess’ request to visit her family or have any of them visit her. He became intolerable, refusing her the luxuries of a maidservant, and becoming increasingly cruel.

She briefly narrates her happiness in caring for the sisters once their parents passed away, and proceeds to reveal the night on which Cosmo assisted her in her escape. She was drugged, proclaimed dead, and later hidden in a coffin to be transported to a cottage in the woods a few miles from the Castle. It was after this fateful night that she realized the Count’s evil intentions to take her fortune, and the fortune of her nieces by first murdering her, as she was their guardian. After her departure from the Castle and knowledge of this information, the Countess contacted her friends for a place to stay, financial means, and safe passage far away from the Castle. It was later on that she contacted her mysterious allies, Beatrice and Signor Rupino, requesting them to approach her nieces in order to affect their escape, as the Count had planned to poison them as well.

While this unfolds, the Count seethes with anger upon discovering the disappearance of Emillia and Theresa. As a result, he murders Cosmo in a fit of anger while trying to extract the truth from him. Even though Cosmo is unaware of the means of their escape, he divulges that the Countess is still alive, sending the Count into a rage. The Count scours the tunnels and hidden passages of Montabino, attempting to discover what could have allowed his nieces to escape, or some clue as to where his wife has fled. However, this search ends in his accidental stabbing and eventual death.

Once the Count’s death is confirmed, friends of the Countess and noblemen from the villa begin searching all corners of the castle to uncover the treacherous secrets that the Count may have hidden. It was then that they come across a young woman, Harmina, who was locked away in a small, unkempt room with her daughter. Harmina later reveals her story, discussing her working-class upbringing, her struggles to receive her romantic and material interests, and how she came to be acquainted with the Count. She originally attracted the attentions of Fernando, a servant of the Count, who later introduced the two. The Count was enraptured by her beauty, while hiding his marriage, began to have an affair with her. He ensured that she lived in a charming villa away from the castle, visiting her occasionally and giving her the luxuries she desired. Their affair lasted for three to four years, and she bore him three children. However, Harmina later became aware that he was a married man and, dismayed, revealed to him her plan to return to her father and the rest of her family immediately.

During her escape, she was intercepted by the Count and forced into imprisonment, where her children were taken from her, pronounced dead under mysterious and vague conditions, and later buried. Gusmond, the man who Emillia and Theresa witnessed at the desolate site, confesses to murdering Harmina’s children, and is sentenced to life imprisonment. In the end, Harmina retires to a convent, and leaves her child in the care of the Countess who is joyfully remarried. Theresa and Emillia, who also get married, live happily. The story ends with the moral that those who are virtuous will be rewarded and those who are wicked will meet with punishment.


Bibliography

Baines, Paul. “Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell (d. c. 1830), Writer: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.” (d. c. 1830), Writer | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 5 Oct. 2019.

“The Castle of Montabino; or The Orphan Sisters: an Original Romance.” WorldCat, 12 Dec. 2018.

Hoeveler, Daine L. “Sarah Wilkinson: Female Gothic Entrepreneur.” Gothic Archive: Related Scholarship, Marquette University, 1 Jan. 2015.

“Movable Stationary,” The Movable Book Society Newsletter, May 2013 (“Vintage Pop-Up Books” with further information, accessed 30 October 2019).

Potter, Franz. “The Romance of Real Life: Sarah Wilkinson.” The History of Gothic Publishing: 1800–1835, Palgrave UK, 2005, pp. 109–30.

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Castle of Montabino; or The Orphan Sisters: an Original Romance. London, Dean and Munday, 1810.


Researcher: Medhaa Banaji

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber, or, the Terror. of. Bohemia, in which is Introduced, Stella, or, the Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale

Author: H. J. Sarrett
Publisher: Tegg and Castleman
Publication Year: c. 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 3 volumes, each 10.5cm x 8cm, 4 cm deep
Pages: 80
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .M356 1802 v.3 no.1


This chapbook translated by H.J. Sarrett and published around 1803 tells a story of murder, magic, and a maniac. A knight and his lover once separated by death may never be reunited as long as the town’s robbers are still on the loose.


 Material History

The full title of this book is Koenigsmark The Robber or the Terror of Bohemia in Which is Introduced Stella of the Maniac of the Wood, A Pathetick Tale. The cover of this edition is 10.5 cm by 8 cm and the entire novel is 4 cm deep. The front cover of this book has fallen off and is separated from the rest of the intact book; however, the cover is still included with the text. The cover is dark, chocolate-brown leather, including the binding. The leather is smooth and waxy from years of use and direct contact with skin whose oils can smooth the texture of the leather. On the spine, there are golden floral designs. The combination of leather binding and gold accents on the spine could mean this book was printed for long wear and quality. The pages are thick and smooth, similar to the texture of the average paper in a twenty-first century novel. It is sturdy and unstained, yet the paper is slightly yellowed, most likely due to age. The pages all  have small margins, about 1 cm on each side. The text fills up most of the pages. It is a small font and closely set. Most page edges are slightly worn with very few tears.

A handwritten partial table of contents for this compilation of tales appears in the opening leaves of the volume. Though Koenigsmark the Robber is the first tale in this book, whoever wrote this list did not list it here.

Koenigsmark, The Robber is the first book that appears in a compilation of seven stories listed in the following order: Koenigsmark, The Robber (1803), Phantasmagoria: Or the Development of Magical Deception (1803), Ildefonzo & Alberoni, or Tales of Horrors (1803), Ulric and Gustavus, Or Unhappy Swedes (1803), Blanche and Carlos; Or the Constant lovers: including the adventures of Valville and Adelaide, A Mexican Tale. (1803), Maximilian and Selina; Or, the Mysterious Abbot (1804), and The Voyages and Discoveries of Crusoe Richard Davis, the Son of a Clergyman in Cumberland (1801). Koenigsmark, The Robber is the only story within this book that has the author printed on the title page. The rest have no author mentioned within the book and do not appear to be by the same author as Koenigsmark, The Robber. The first six books are all printed by Tegg & Castlemen, whereas Blanche and Carlos was printed by S. Fisher. The stories do not have any evident relationship to one another except that they were published within a short time period (1801–1804) and are all of the Gothic genre. Koenigsmark, The Robber is 80 pages long.

When you first open the book, there is a bookplate with the name “Richardson Harrison” printed on it. As you turn the page, there are four blank leaves, two containing a handwritten table of contents numbered 1 through 7, correlating with the seven stories compiled together in this book. The only numbers that are filled out, though, are numbers 4 and 6.

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

Situated after the handwritten table of contents and as the first book in the volume, Koenigsmark opens with a frontispiece featuring an illustration from one of the last scenes in Koenigsmark when Koenigsmark is stabbed. Beneath the scene are the words, “Koenigsmark the Robber.” in a large font, and underneath it reads “Published June 1st 1803 by Tegg & Ca”, the publishing company for the book, Tegg and Castleman. The title page is adjacent to the frontispiece. The title covers the majority of the page and multiple lines; each line of text is a different font than the previous one. The author’s name, H. J. Sarrett, is printed in italics immediately beneath the title in a similar-sized font, as well as details about the author’s other works.

Throughout the rest of the story there are no other decorative elements: no captions, images, or texts other than the story, page numbers, and the abbreviated title, Koenigsmark, the Robber, at the top of each page.


Textual History

This edition of Koenigsmark the Robber Or, the Terror of Bohemia was published in 1803 in London by Tegg & Castleman and is credited, on the title page, to H.J. Sarrett. The book was originally written in German by Rudolf Erich Raspe and titled Koniksmark der Rauber; oderr, Der Schrecken aus Bohmen. The German version was published in 1790. H.J. Sarrett translated and adapted Raspe’s text, publishing it as Koenigsmark, The Robber in 1803. The English version by Sarrett “became the basis for a pirated chapbook purporting to be by M.G. Lewis,” the author of The Monk (Bridgwater 195). Sarrett also translated another work, The Three Monks!!!, which is mentioned on the title page of this edition of Koenigsmark.

Part of the ownership history of Koenigsmark the Robber can be traced thanks to this bookplate

There appear to be several editions of this novel published in the early nineteenth century. Montague Summers and Ann B. Tracy both identify the first publication as 1801 (Summers 380, Tracy 155). Tracy lists this edition as published by William Cole in one volume (155). The edition primarily discussed here is dated 1803, was published by Tegg & Castleman, and has 80 pages. It is collected in the third volume of a collection entitled The Marvelous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies. There is also a shorter 38-page chapbook published by James Williams that is undated. The chapbook contains the same frontispiece as the 1803 version (but without the note regarding the 1803 publication date) and the title is slightly different: the longer version uses “A Pathetic Tale” while this 38-page chapbook uses “An Affecting Tale.” This chapbook also lists no author on the title page, and there is no link in the printed text between Sarrett and the text. This chapbook is the same story with the same plot, but the longer version goes into more detail and adds more dialogue between characters.

A separate chapbook with a different title, Koenigsmark the Robber, or, The Terror of Bohemia, including the History of Rosenberg and Adelaide, and their Orphan Daughter and attributed to Matthew Lewis was published by William Cole. This edition has only 24 pages and is not dated. Interestingly, in the longer version of Koenigsmark, the orphan daughter character is particularly minor, though here she is referenced in the title. Instead of the black-and-white frontispiece, this chapbook version has a fold-out page featuring several color illustrations (“Gothic Chapbooks”).

This work does not have any prefaces or introductions in any of the editions. Based on its multiple editions, this book appears to have garnered some interest among readers. Nonetheless, since the time of its printing, there have been no additional twenty-first-century reprintings. All editions are available online through Google Books. In scholarship, the novel is used as an example of a gothic romance text as it depicts the supernatural, betrayal, romance, and violence. Popular Romanticism, for instance, gives the chapbook version attributed to Lewis as an example of gothic chapbook form.


Narrative Point of View

Koenigsmark the Robber is narrated in the third person by an anonymous narrator who never appears in the text. The narration is laconic—often brief and to the point—and focuses on filling in gaps in the story or furthering the reader’s understanding of the scene. Throughout the novel, the narration will provide insight into the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, but never does so for the antagonists.

Sample Passage:

By the time the two friends reached the inn, the night continued stormy, and they found many travelers who were unwilling to continue their journey in such horrid weather. “Bolfield,” said Herman, addressing the landlord, “you will oblige me, my friend, with giving us particulars of Rosenberg’s death, as you heard it from this servant. “Herman,” said the landlord, “since you request it, I will comply, though the subject distresses me. Konigsal you know, lies about twelve miles from this place, across the forest. Rosenberg wished to cross the forest that night, not heeding the representations of his servant, but replied, “that a soldier ought never know fear.” As they proceeded a distant clock struck twelve; they heard the cries of murder seemingly issuing from a clump of trees at a small distance from them. (9)

As in this passage, the vast majority of the narrative is told through dialogue among the characters. The dialogue is condensed together within paragraphs rather than being separated out by character. The third-person narration primarily functions to set the scene and to provide connection and context between instances of dialogue. This makes transitioning scenes as the story progresses rather easy to follow and clear.


Summary

On a dark and stormy night, two young men named Theodore and Herman went to spend a few hours at an inn in the woods where townspeople would meet up and relax together by smoking and telling stories. On the walk there, Herman tells Theodore a story of a young woman named Adelaide and how she lost her husband. Theodore had not lived in the village for long, so he did not know the story. Herman went on to tell him that a man named Adolphus Rosenberg was a young man who had fallen in love with General Kaempfer’s daughter. When Adolphus went to ask the general to marry his daughter, the general said he would only allow it if Adolphus became a soldier for him. He made him the aid-de-camp to the Colonel Monteculi.

A sample page of text from Koenigsmark the Robber, showing the start of the story

Soon after, they set off on a long voyage and ended up being attacked by assassins in the woods called the Banditti. Adolphus saves the general’s life and for that, Kaempfer gave him his blessing to be with his daughter. Only a few weeks later they married and later had a child. Unfortunately, Adolphus was called for another voyage soon after. Adelaide felt that it was a bad idea, and it turned out she was correct. Her husband was killed in the woods by assassins and when the news came back to the general, he told his daughter that he was sick and was stuck on his voyage.

This is all Herman knows. They have reached the inn where they ask the innkeeper, Bolfield, if he knows anything else about Rosenburg’s death. He tells them the story he heard from Adolphus’s servant: they were travelling through the woods when they heard a woman’s cries. When they went to help her, a group of assassins attacked them. Adolphus was fatally shot but the servant was saved by a passerby. Theodore and Herman are told a similar story by someone else in the inn, claiming supernatural occurrences, though Theodore and Herman are skeptical.

Later, a few of the Banditti including their leader, Koenigsmark, arrive the inn where Theodore overhears their plans to attack Kaempfer. Theodore us so moved by the stories that he wants to warn Kaempfer and protect him so that Adelaide would not be fatherless as well. Theodore gathers some friends and they set off to Koningsal, where Kaempfer resides. They tell him of the Banditti’s plan and prepare for them to arrive. When the Banditti show up, Theodore and his men attack and one of the banditti says that they were ordered there by Koenigsmark and that they should beware of him, because he is invincible. Theodore and his men set off to kill Koenigsmark.

They find Koenigsmark in the woods but Theodore is quickly captured and just as they were about to torture him, Koenigsmark’s lieutenant requested that they do not harm Theodore because he had saved his life in a previous battle. Koenigsmark obliges, but says Theodore will be his prisoner in the cave they keep secret in the woods forever.

Later that night, the lieutenant that requested Theodore to be left alone comes to him in his cell. They make a plan to break him out. The next day, the pair, as well as the guard for the cell, Steinfort, escape to Kaempfer who told them to go kill Koenigsmark.

When they return to the cell to fight, the lieutenant is shot and killed while Koenigsmark gets away. So, Theodore and Herman return to the inn where they met Stella: the. maniac of the woods. Bolfield tells them the tragic story of her lover, Raymond, being executed right in front of her after he harmed a servant for his money.

A while later, Theodore receives a letter telling him that colonel Kaempfer is dead and that Adelaide has taken her baby and run into the forest. Theodore and Herman her lying lifeless on the ground without her baby, but she is still alive. They discover that Koenigsmark took the child so they fight him. While he is distracted, Steinfort, the freed servant of Koenigsmark, finds the baby and takes it to safety. Theodore wounds Koenigsmark but keeps him alive so that he can kill him later. When Adelaide is reunited with her baby, a flash of lightening lights up the room and Rosenburg’s ghost appears. Adelaide leaves her body and joins him as a ghost—leaving the baby as an orphan.

Konenigsmark is hanged for execution when a cloaked spirit appears and stabs him, telling him that he fulfilled his promise. The town holds funerals for Colonel Kaempfer and Adelaide. Colonel Monteculi then adopts the child as his own and appoints Theodore and Steinfort as their guardians and protectors if he were to ever die. Theodore and Herman then leave for the army where they are great warriors with lots of success.


Bibliography

Bridgwater, Patrick. The German Gothic Novel in Anglo-German Perspective. Rodopi, 2013.

“Gothic Chapbooks.” Popular Romanticism. poprom.streetprint.org/narratives/90.

Koenigsmark, the Robber: Or, The Terror of Bohemia: Including the History of Rosenberg and Adelaide, and Their Orphan Daughter. Johns Hopkins Library, catalyst.library.jhu.edu/catalog/bib_2655132.

Koenigsmark the Robber: Or, the Terror of Bohemia; In Which is Introduced Stella, or, The Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale. Portsea, James Williams, n.d.

Sarrett, H. J. Koenigsmark the Robber: Or, the Terror of Bohemia; In Which is Introduced Stella, or, The Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1803, in The Marvelous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies, vol. 3. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1802–1804.

Sarrett, H. J. The Three Monks!!! From the French. [A Translation of Les Trois Moines, by M. De Faverolle, Pseudonym of Elisabeth Guénard, Afterwards Brossin, Baroness De Méré.] 1803.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune press, 1941.

Tracy, Ann B. The Gothic Novel 1790­­–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs. Lexington, The University Press of Kentucky, 1981.


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

Ravensdale

Ravensdale

Ravensdale: A Romance

Author: Ellen T.
Publisher: G. Purkess, Strange
Publication Year: 1847
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 13.2 cm x 21 cm
Pages: 116
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .T24 R 1847


Published in 1847 and written by the mysterious Ellen T., Ravensdale follows the intersecting love stories of characters across societal boundaries, while capturing love’s vivacity, disparity, and ultimate fatality.


Material History

The title page of Ravensdale.

Ravensdale: A Romance is a leather and sheep-skin bound book with a hard cover lined in navy cloth. The book’s binding is an orange hue and the cover is not comprised of distinct detail or decoration. The title of the book is engraved simplistically in the middle on the spine, and the cover is blank. The full title only appears on the title page, and the shortened title, Ravensdale, appears at the top left-hand side of each page and is the title engraved on the binding. As for the title page, the font remains simplistic and uniform to the rest of the book’s text. However, the title of the book is printed in a different, more formal font, and appears as though it was printed separately from the initial printing of the book. The rest of the title page is blank except for the bottom where the printing and publishing information is given: “1847 / London: Printed by E. Lloyd, Published by G. Purkess; Compton street, Soho; Strange Paternoster row.”

The illustrator is not acknowledged, and there are no illustrations in the introductory pages of the book. The first illustration appears on the beginning page of Chapter 1. Before Chapter 1, there is a page-long, anonymous preface unveiling to the reader the unattributed work of the author, Ellen T.

The book is decorated simply, with subtle decorative elements that add some embellishment to the book’s cheap production. There is a decorative letter at the beginning of Chapter 1, and each of the following chapters begin with a short poem. The edge of the novel is slightly rough and is speckled with burgundy paint for decorative distinction.

The illustration at the beginning of Chapter 1, which is the first illustration of Ravensdale.

The cover of the book is 13.2 cm wide and 21 cm long and filled with 116 pages. These pages are filled with small, closely-set text, which makes for relatively wide margins. Ravensdale’s text is faint-black due to weathering, use, and printing; however, on some pages the text appears to be inconsistently bolded.

The pages are yellowed with the edges slightly browning from aging and storage. On some pages, there are brown speckles that appear on the corners. The book’s pages are well intact and are firm and stiff when turning the page. Some pages have oil stains due to prior handling, but the stiffness of the pages suggests a strong binding and that the book was handled somewhat infrequently.

Visually, the book lacks uniqueness. There are subtle decorative elements that give Ravensdale individuality, however outside of these elements, the book was produced simplistically and cheaply. The book has black and white illustrations that appear relatively frequently and are uncaptioned. These illustrations represent significant scenes in the chapter, the Chapter 1-page illustration displaying the two main characters standing under their favorite tree, a willow. Black and white illustrations were less expensive than colored illustrations to produce: after printing the initial black and white image, color was placed by another printing or by hand. Thus, adding color and extra detail to these illustrations was too expensive for the production of this book.


Textual History

Ravensdale is a 116-page book printed and published by Edward Lloyd, George Purkess, and William Strange in London. The title page gives the printer and publisher information, revealing the novel’s publishing location of Compton Street and Paternoster-Row. The author is identified as Ellen T., withholding her last name. Ellen T. was a nineteenth-century writer who has written two other books titled Rose Sommerville: Or, A Husband’s Mystery and a Wife’s Devotion. A Romance and Eardley Hall. Rose Sommerville was published the same year as Ravensdale (1847),and Eardley Hall was published in 1850.

The anonymous preface at the beginning of Ravensdale.

Ravensdale was printed by Edward Lloyd, a nineteenth-century printer who has been called “the father of the cheap press” (Humphreys). He operated a publishing empire founded on “penny bloods” and optimized on this emerging mass market. He spearheaded printing, advertising, and distributing techniques that helped with mass production of these publications. His career began with printing volumes of cheap novels, and then he shifted to printing newspapers; one of his early publications was Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, which became widely successful. His original office was located on Curtain Road in Shoreditch, but then he relocated in 1843 to 12 Salisbury Square. He published, often unlawfully, the works of famous authors, however he also published the works of smaller, underappreciated authors like Harry Hazel, Faucit Saville, Mrs. M. L. Sweetser, and B. Barker. Lloyd was notorious for aggressive advertising and for undercutting competitor’s prices, often by plagiarizing. His most famous newspaper was Lloyd’s Penny Sunday Times and People’s Police Gazette. Ellen T. was one of the smaller authors that Lloyd printed, and multiple of her works were printed by him and her poems were published in his newspapers (Humphreys).

Ravensdale was also printed and published by George Purkess and William Strange. Both companies were operated in London; George Purkess worked out of his Compton Street office, and William Strange’s office was located on 21 Paternoster-Row (Lill). Purkess was known for his dealing of cheap fiction in the 1840s, and Strange was known as a significant publisher of cheap literature for working classes, specifically in more urban areas (Anglo 81). Yet, Strange was also involved in more satirical publishing: his most famous publication was a comic journal titled Figaro in London. Strange involved himself in various activities of rebellion, like the resistance of newspaper stamps and other “taxes of knowledge,” while also linking himself to various libel and infringement of copyright cases (Bently 238). Strange and Purkess were regarded as popular figures in radical publishing movements of the 1830s. Throughout their careers, both Strange and Purkess were regarded as publishers who moved between “radical politics, literary populism and popular enlightenment” (Haywood 133). These two men exploited savvy strategies often used by prolific publishers at the time, combining both the publishing of popular, cheap penny bloods and short publications to fund new and rousing periodicals; two of their most popular being the Monthly Theatrical Review and the Girl’s and Boy’s Penny Magazine (Lill).

Ravensdale has two editions. One is the edition published in 1847 held in the University of Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection and in the libraries of Yale, Notre Dame, and the British Library, both digitally and physically. Another version of Ravensdale was published in The Ladies’ Journal: A Newspaper of Fashion, Literature, Music, and Variety which can be found in the British Library (Léger-St-Jean). The Ladies’ Journal was an extension of Lloyd’s newspaper that ran from April 3 to September 18, 1847. Ravensdale was one of four texts published in the extension: the other texts were Widow Mortimer. A Romance, The Pirate Queen,and The Creole. This newspaper was one of Lloyd’s unsuccessful publications and ran for a shorter period of time (Léger-St-Jean). Ellen T.’s other works were featured in Lloyd’s publications; specifically, her poems “To Christmas”and “Lines on a Birthday” were featured in The People’s Periodical and Family Library. In the 1847 edition of Ravensdale, there is an anonymous preface detailing the unappreciated nature of the author. It ends with “London, November 1847,” and expresses the talent of the author. In Ellen T.’s other novel, Rose Sommerville, another anonymous preface exists, and it portrays the methods and wants of the “Authoress.”


Narrative Point of View

Ravensdale, is narrated in third person through an anonymous character who is not interwoven within the novel’s plot. This narrator frequently uses differentiating descriptors in order to convey certain character’s dispositions. When describing the two Clavering sisters, Grace and Edith, the narrator juxtaposes each description: Edith is often described with a sense of earnestness and fragility, whereas Grace is described with sublime diction. The narrator primarily uses dialogue for plot progression, and thus does not apply large amounts of narrative authority over the description of events. However, the narrator interrupts dialogue for eloquent character description, often detailing the characters’ temperaments flamboyantly. She deploys flowery diction when choosing to describe characters, often theatrically illustrating their emotions. Yet, she sometimes decides to include generalized comments on the plot progression, which occasionally reveal a narrative presence. Additionally, in order to dramatize certain moments of emotional uncertainty, the narrator adds exclamations and rhetorical questions as if attempting to converse with the reader. On some occasions, the narrator directly engages with the reader, demanding that he regard a character’s actions in a certain way.

Sample Passage:

The reader must conceive with what transport this billet was perused, and how rapturously the young man carried it to his lips–how fondly each little word was treasured in his memory. Oh! ‘tis sweet to trace, in the letters of those we love, the soft breathings of a spirit that yearns for our return, to whom all things are as nothing while we are not. Thus felt Edward Villiers, as he read with a throbbing bosom the letter that was penned by Grace, her whom he was seeking to forget; and though her true sentiments towards him were concealed beneath the veil of feminine modesty and true of feeling, he saw sufficient to convince him that he was loved–that he had inspired her with no transitory or evanescent passion for himself, but a love that bade defiance to all obstacles that was no more easy to be extinguished than the flame that was likewise kindled in his own breast. (26­–27)

This passage both demonstrates the narrator’s engagement with the reader while also exemplifying the narrator’s descriptive style. Instead of mere depiction of progressing events, this anonymous narrator interrupts pivotal moments of plot progression and connects directly with the reader. When summoning the reader’s attention, the narrator desires him to internalize the sentiments described and prompt internal reflection. She calls on the reader to look within himself and think back to a past memory where he felt the same emotion. She shifts from third-person perspective and employs first person narrative with her use of “we” and “our.” The narrator asks the reader to join her in telling this story, suggesting that personal attachment provides advantageous insight that grasps the complexity of characters and their accompanied emotions. In the latter half of this passage, the narration resumes its ordinary form, providing ornate description of the character’s state of mind and observations. She describes the emotions felt by Edward when receiving the letter from Grace, utilizing physical elements of Edward’s body to personify the extent of his love. Instead of describing intense emotion, the narrator often uses physical elements in hope of capturing the authenticity of the character’s emotions. She deploys phrases like “a throbbing bosom,” and “the flame that was likewise kindled in his own breast,” which depict the physicality of Edwards love for Grace, and this allows for a deeper clarity on the extent to which the two love each other. Ultimately, the narrator wants the reader to intensely connect with the emotions described.


Summary

The decorative letter that begins Chapter 1, which is one of the few decorative elements of Ravensdale.

Ravensdale opens with the introduction of the Clavering family, centering around the two amiable cousins of Grace and Edith, who differ in disposition, but hold the utmost strength of family companionship. Edith embodies the essence of gentility and loving nature, her soft countenance and sweetness extending through all of her relationships. Juxtaposing this nature, Grace contains wild exuberance, and carries a powerful vivacity. Arthur and Grace are both children of Ms. Manning, the sister of the countess of Clavering, and Edith the daughter of the countess. After the birth of Grace, an incurable illness imposes itself upon Ms. Manning, and she bestows a wish of the marriage between the two cousins: Arthur and Edith. Upon the death of Ms. Manning, the countess intends for her wish to come true. Edith then reaches the maturity that shows she is fit for marriage. Upon Arthur’s maturity, he travels around Europe and Edith anticipates his return. Fully aware of his destiny to marry Edith, Arthur is instantly enchanted by her sweetness and beauty, and the Claverings prepare for the highly anticipated ceremony. One of the guests at this beloved ceremony is Edward Villers, a former acquaintance of Arthur’s. Grace is given the task of properly entertaining this unknown visitor, and the two become pleasantly acquainted. In their time together, Edward suggests that Arthur’s heart contains not just Edith but another—a former lover from his travels. Yet, Grace is assured by Edward that this connection is indeed former. Edward and Grace acquire a mutual appreciation for each other and promise to see each other again.

After Edward’s return to London, we are introduced to Catherine Montravers, a governess to a wealthy woman, Mrs. Porters, and a teacher of her children, while rushing along the streets of Paris. Simply dressed, Catherine is a dark and intricate beauty with magnificent raven features. She is introduced in a state of anguish as she is stopped on the street by an admirer, Ernest Moreton, who shows a deep concern in her mental fragility and ill health. When she returns to her school room, the reader learns of her despairing solitude and afflictions with a former lover.

In London, Edward is struck by ennui, and expresses to his family and a close friend, Helen, his love for Grace and his wishes to marry her. Mrs. Villers suggests the disparity in their social standings and proposes Helen to be a better pairing for him: a dutiful, devoted, and helpful woman. Edward refuses, and exclaims his determination to marry Grace.

Edith and Arthur are married, yet Edith is struck by an apparent uneasiness about Arthur’s devotion to her. Grace’s fondness for Edward grows, and she becomes aware of her love for him and wishes to see him again. She expresses her sentiments to Edith, who appears uneasy with Grace’s decision to marry outside her class. While the two sisters converse, a letter appears by a servant addressed to Arthur, and Edith attempts to retrieve it. Instead, Grace possesses the letter and throws it into the fire.

We return to the story of Catherine, who while sitting in her school room, receives two letters from her former lover. She is afflicted by their contents and continues her melancholic suffering when Mr. Porter expresses an interest in returning to London.

Arthur, known as the Earl of Clavering, Edith, and Grace attend the Opera where they are met by Edward. Grace and Edward express their love and mutual wishes to marry, which Arthur rejects. Yet, this does not stop their dedication, and Grace conveys her intentions of disobeying Arthur’s marital wishes for her.

Meanwhile, Helen expresses her love for Edward, and Edward fabricates his ignorance towards her affections and explains that if aware, he would have asked for her hand if not already promised to Grace. He requests that she leave the Villers household with a promise to return to her if rejected by Grace. Meanwhile, Edith happens upon a letter left behind by Arthur, and believing it is intended for his mother, reads it. The letter is actually addressed to Catherine, and Edith is awakened by the bitter reality of her husband’s love for another.

An example of the poems that begin each chapter of Ravensdale.

In the midst of this contention, the reader is introduced to three men: Edward Moreton, Christopher Warden, and John Lawton. The three are discussing Morten’s love for Catherine, when Marie, the former lover of Christopher, enters and is described as a soft and changing beauty. She professes her love and destitution to Christopher, and he agrees to support her, but orders her and their unborn child to distance themselves from his deteriorating illness. Marie resists, insisting her devotion and desire to care for Christopher, but Lawton insists on this separation. After observing the conversation between Christopher, Lawton, and the neglected Marie, Moreton tends an emerging dislike for these two men and a restless desire to investigate their character.

When returning to the household of the Villers, Catherine hears of the disappearance of her sister, Helen, and comes to immediate aid. Convinced that Helen’s disappearance is inextricably linked to Edward, she writes him a letter impersonating Helen and asks him to meet in the middle of the night.

Consistent with the promises of Lawton, Marie is brought to the establishment of Madame Chevasse, an elderly woman with sharp eyes and cunning disposition. In evaluating and feeling assured of her cruelty, Marie refuses to stay with Madame and allow her to care for her unborn child. Lawton again insists that Christopher’s support only reaches so far, and her refusal of Madame’s care will cause a further disunion between them. Marie then agrees to Madame’s hospitality.

In anticipation of her nightly rendezvous, Catherine appears at the meeting place before its expected time, when she sees a dark figure approaching her. Arthur, her former lover, emerges from the darkness and professes his love and undying desire to provide for her every need. She is sickened by his advances and exclaims that although his status allows the exemption of punishment, his complete neglect of her warrants her reprehensibility and hatred. Arthur pushes back on her claims until Edward approaches the meeting place. Arthur hides, and Edward begins to explain, to whom he perceives as Helen, his supposed marriage to Grace. Then, Arthur jumps out from the bushes and yells that this marriage will no longer be held. Arthur describes Edward’s unworthiness of marrying his sister, and that the only way that he can redeem his character is through a duel.

Catherine finds Helen’s place of habitation, and the two again reconcile their inseparable sisterhood. Catherine councils Helen never to see Edward again, as his devotion still lies with Grace. Yet, Helen refuses and attempts to convince Catherine of his love. Catherine rejoices in their rekindled sisterhood, but she still shows apprehension for her sister’s dedication to Edward.

The reader returns to the residence of Madame Chevasse, where Lawton specifies the intended role of her caretaking, which is one of ultimately killing Marie’s unborn child. Lawton expresses that with Christopher’s life-threatening illness, he will be unable to provide a righteous life for their child. Madame Chevasse agrees to Lawton’s request, yet demands an expensive reward. She then begins this process by poisoning Marie, which leads to her ultimate death.

In response to the events of his rendezvous with Catherine and Arthur, Edward writes a letter to Grace explaining the misunderstanding. Grace receives this letter while confronted by Arthur about Edward’s character and unworthiness of her hand. Grace assures Arthur that his allegations are false. Grace and Edward meet again and reconfirm their mutual love for one another, and Edwards professes his intention to convince Arthur of his love. Meanwhile, Helen writes a letter to Edward, demonstrating her relentless devotion.

It is then that Lieutenant Marston, an acquaintance to Arthur, presents himself to Edward and conveys a message. The Lieutenant reveals Arthur’s wishes to duel Edward in his sister’s honor, with the man who prevails deciding Grace’s marital fate. The Lieutenant explains that he will be a third-party preparing Edward for this scheduled duel, and the two become acquainted.

An illustration showing Christopher’s reaction to the corpse of his dead lover, Marie.

Meanwhile, Ernest Moreton confronts Lawton and Christopher about Marie’s death, and insists that Lawton is guilty of this monstrous crime. He then announces his quest for revenge, and the conversation ends with Christopher’s desire to look upon his deceased lover.

The final rejection of Helen’s devotion by Edward sufficiently extinguishes her passion and hope towards their elopement. Coupled with Catherine’s dismissal from governess of Mrs. Porter, the two decide to live together.

As Lieutenant Marston prepares Edward for the upcoming duel, the two obtain a mutual like for each other, and the good nature of the Lieutenant’s character is acknowledged. The day of the duel comes, and it results in the life-threatening injury of Edward. Edward is rushed to the nearby cottage of Helen and Catherine, where Helen tends to him with undying devotion.

Meanwhile, Lawton and Christopher visit Marie’s corpse. Christopher is alarmed by the haunting spectacle that has taken Marie’s place and repeatedly exclaims the foolishness of his visit. Madame Chevasse and Lawton continue to hide their responsibility for her death, however Morten observes them with a skeptical eye and believes that he has caught their criminality. After this fateful visit, Christopher is never the same and the intensity of his illness brings him to his mortal ending.

Helen’s suppressed devotion towards Edward resurfaces in full force after his injury, but her relentless care is not enough, and Edward dies from his honorable duel. When notified of her lover’s death by Arthur, Grace falls into a deep sadness, an illness that removes all of her recent memories and convinces her that her marriage to Edward will still occur. In hope for this bliss to remain, the Claverings decide to entertain Grace’s absence from reality. On her imagined wedding day, Grace drowns in the river where she attempts to meet Edward, and the Claverings mourn their spirited daughter’s loss.

Meanwhile, the Lieutenant provides Catherine and Helen their first group of pupils at their shared cottage, while also developing a great appreciation and love for Helen. After frequent visits to the cottage, the good-natured Lieutenant asks for Helen’s hand in marriage, which she accepts. Finally, Catherine is visited by Ernest Moreton and his mother, who demonstrate a great respect for her character, and Ernest asks for her hand in marriage. 


Bibliography

Anglo, Michael. Penny Dreadfuls and Other Victorian Horrors. London, Jupiter, 1977.

Bently, Lionel. “Prince Albert v Strange.” Landmark Cases in Equity, edited by Charles Mitchell and Paul Mitchell. Hart Publishing, 2012.

Haywood, Ian. The Revolution in Popular Literature. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Humpherys, Anne. “Edward Lloyd.” British Literary Publishing Houses, 1820­–1880, edited by Patricia Anderson and Jonathan Rose. Gale, 1991. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 106. Literature Resource Center.

Léger-St-Jean, Marie. Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837-1860. 29 June 2019. Faculty of English, Cambridge. http://priceonepenny.info.

Lill, Sara Louise. “In for a Penny: The Business of Mass-Market Publishing 1832–90.” Edward Lloyd and His World Popular Fiction, Politics and the Press In Victorian Britain. New York, Routledge, 2019.

T., Ellen. Eardley Hall: a tale: by Ellen T? Edward Lloyd, 1850. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

T., Ellen. “Lines on a Birthday.” The People’s Periodical and Family Library, vol. I, no. 13. Edward Lloyd, 1847, pp. 205. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

T., Ellen. Ravensdale: A Romance. London, Edward Lloyd, 1847.

T., Ellen. Rose Sommerville: or, A husband’s mystery and a wife’s devotion: a romance. Edward Lloyd, 1847. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

T., Ellen. “To Christmas.” The People’s Periodical and Family Library, vol. I, no. 13. Edward Lloyd, 1847, pp. 205. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.


Researcher: Neila Connaughton

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. Hurst
Publication Year: 1802
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 12.5 cm x 18 cm
Pages: 85
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .O675 1802


This 1802 novel details a tale of violence, manipulation, and deceit, as an outlaw attempts to evade his capture and destined fate. Will poetic justice be served or will evil continue to reign?


Material History

This image shows the lack of front cover and delicate state of the binding of pages

This edition of Oswick, The Bold Outlaw, A Tale Of The Eighth Century is rather worn, with no front cover, back cover, or substantial binding. The pages are held together by weathered remnants of paper binding, with a few pages falling loose. Upon opening the book, the reader is met with an intricate illustration, the only departure from the otherwise simple and consistent printing. This frontispiece depicts a man with a sword standing over a slain body in the midst of trees. The man who has been slain seems to have been a knight of sorts, as his helmet is lying beside his body on the ground. The image is composed entirely of line-work, with all shading being a manipulation of the density of lines, with there being either an abundance or absence of lines. The image is captioned with the following: “They beheld Blight standing over the mangled body of Egbert: his countenance betrayed the violent emotions of his mind—agitated by remorse—pg. 21”

The title page features the only appearance of the title in the entire book. There is no mention of the author, and thus the author of this work is unknown. However, “printed for T. Hurst, Paternoster-row” does appear on the title page, followed by “By J.D. Dewick, aldersgate-street” in much smaller, almost miniscule font, suggesting that such is not the author but rather the publisher.

The novel is 85 pages long, and is printed in a simplistic manner, on textured, rough, yellowed paper, with the edges browning. The pages feature a page number on the top and justified blocks of text, with large margins and small font, in a rather uniform fashion for the entirety of the 85 pages of the novel. However, some of the blocks of text on certain pages are unevenly placed, with some being crooked and having larger margins than others. It is to be noted that other versions of this novel have been found, which are printed as chapbooks and only feature thirty-some pages. One feature that can be seen in this edition is the appearance of letters in small font followed by a number at the bottom of certain pages. At the time, this was a mechanism to indicate how to correctly line up and fold the pages when printing. The book features no chapters.

This image shows pages of sample text, with markings of age and irregular margins

Other irregularities of the book are merely a result of wear and age. The image featured on the back of the first page has left a slightly darkened imprint on the front of the second page. The frontispiece and title page are the most worn, being significantly darker and browner than the rest of the pages. Every page features three small holes in the middle left/right, towards the spine, as the pages were likely originally bound through these holes. There is a uniform brown spot on the top right of pages 8 through 15, as if something was spilt. The pages towards the end of the book are significantly whiter, firmer, and less worn, suggesting that the novel was not read all the way through much. There is a notable hole on page 79. The text is faded in certain parts, with no pattern. The simplistic pages and the absence of an author suggest the book was cheaply printed.


Textual History

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century has many versions in circulation. In addition to the 86-page edition published in 1802 by T. Hurst, there is also a chapbook version of Oswick. One version of this chapbook was published in 1806 in a volume of The Entertainer III and under the title, Surprising Achievements of Oswick, the Bold Outlaw, Chieftain of a Band of Robbers: Containing Also an Interesting Account of Enna, His Fair Captive, as Related by Her Son to King Alfred. A Tale of the Eighth Century. Another chapbook, again with the shorter title of Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eight Century,was published by Dean and Munday in 1823; this chapbook has 38 pages and a colored illustration instead of the black and white illustration.

T. Hurst, the publisher of the 1802 edition, published many other gothic texts in the early nineteenth century. The publishers Dean and Munday also published many chapbooks in the early nineteenth century, primarily between 1810 and 1855. Dean and Munday were known as pioneers of moveable books for children, which were books with interactive features such as pop-ups and flaps. The company was a small family business, founded in 1702, and later growing to a larger scale in the eighteenth century.

While some university library catalog entries note that this title appears in A Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers on page 455, it in fact does not. The title noted on that page is Oswick the Outlaw which is a different text than Oswick the Bold Outlaw. Oswick the Outlaw was written by G Smith, Jr. and published by Southwark : G. Smith and Co. in 1815, is 24 pages, and is a children’s story that was performed as a play.

The frontispiece and title page for Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

The title page of the 1802 work contains a five-line poem. This is an excerpt from King Arthur: An Heroick Poem in Twelve Books by Sir Richard Blackmore M. D., published in 1697. The original poem is as follows:

Hell’s greatest Masters all their Skill combin’d
To form and cultivate so fierce a Mind,
Till their great Work was to Perfection brought,
A finish’d Monster form’d without a Fault.
No Flaw of Goodness, no deforming Vein
Or Streak of Vertue did their Offspring stain.

However, the lines included in the front of the book exclude the third line. The chapbook editions feature a different variation of only 4 lines.

There are no translations of this work and no traces of the reception of this book from the nineteenth century. In addition, its printing as a chapbook suggests it was a cheap work. There are no modern reprintings of the work or digital editions available. There is no scholarship on this text, also suggesting that it was not particularly popular.


Narrative Point of View

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century is narrated anonymously in third person. The sentences generally lack significant amounts of description or insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and rather focus mainly on plot development and observable actions. The description that is offered is akin to that which might be expected of a casual audience member of a play describing a scene, noting the anxiety on a character’s face or the pace of someone’s steps. The narration frequently consists of long, compound sentences comprised of short fragments bound together by many commas, colons, and semicolons, especially when describing a series of events taking place in succession, and many times punctuated with a period only at the end of the paragraph.

Sample Passage:

Oswick never before had seen the inside of a dungeon, and he shuddered. Blight was discovered extended upon his back in the damp vault ; his legs and hands were chained to the ground ; a basket of coarse bread was by his side, and a pitcher of stinking water ; pestiferous animals drew their train along the ground, and across his body ; a lamp burned in one corner of the dungeon, that emitted but a faint light, and materially added to the gloomy horrors of the place. (50)

The third-person narration plays a significant role in amplifying the suspense of the plot since much of the plot is spent with Oswick, the protagonist, incognito and attempting to avoid his capture. The narrator explains, “Oswick … beheld written in large characters, the promise of a great reward for his apprehension; and he stopped to read on, which ran thus: ‘Ten thousand crowns reward are offered to him … who will bring in the head … [of] Oswick the Outlaw’” (44). Here, the repetition of Oswick’s name in describing his actions and juxtaposing it against the mention of his name in a wanted poster emphasize the urgent and dire situation of Oswick and the shock and fear of seeing one’s own name being hunted. Furthermore, the staccato pace of the narration coincides with the pace of the dialogue to create a generally fast-paced tone, adding to the thrill of the plot. The style of narration also emulates that of a myth or tall tale by boasting the grandeur and fearful reverence of Oswick, as if he is a mythical villain.


Summary

The novel begins with the narrative of a King, Alfred, traveling through parts of his constituency to better understand what the people want. While doing so, one night, the King decides to take a detour off his route in favor of the beautiful scenery surrounding him. He quickly loses his way, day turns to night, and a storm afflicts him, forcing him to seek shelter in a stranger’s home. Alfred is warmly invited in, but upon being shown his room, finds a trembling boy under his bed, clutching a dagger. Alfred demands the boy to make clear his intentions and finds out that his mother, Enna, sent the boy to supply the dagger as a means of protection for Alfred as he is actually within the home of a notorious bandit, Oswick, and will be killed as he sleeps.

Enna was indeed right, as Oswick and his gang attack Alfred later in his chamber in an attempt to kill him. Alfred and the boy are able to undermine and overpower the assailers, killing Oswick and Blight, a member of his gang. Oswick unfortunately kills Enna.

As news of Oswick’s demise spreads, the town erupts in celebration. Oswick had been a heartless tyrant and all of his constituents lived in constant fear. After the dust settles, the boy, Egwald, begins to relay his story and the story of Oswick to Alfred.

Egwald, Enna, and his father, Egbert, had been the first victims of Oswick’s. In a similar situation as Alfred, they were forced to spend the night at Oswick’s because of a storm. Upon first glance at Enna, Oswick, astonished by her beauty, fell in love. However, his love was a violent one, as he prohibited her from leaving her chamber that night, stating that she was not allowed to continue her journey that night.

Egbert was killed by Oswick, leaving Enna and Egwald entirely at his mercy. He spared Enna because of his love for her, and honored her passionate pleas to spare her child as well. Enna and Egwald were then forced to live within the confines of a dungeon, until the unlikely night that Enna was permitted to make her journey. In the dungeon Enna was violated by Oswick and spent the majority of her years in a deep depression.

Egwald then relays how Oswick rose to power. He and his banditti gained a notorious reputation by making a pact that no one would ever leave the banditti’s chambers alive. As the banditti slay stranger after stranger, one of them, Gilbert, began to try to lead a revolution within the banditti to overthrow the tyranny of Oswick. Gilbert faltered as he was about to kill Oswick, overcome in a moment of compassion. Left alive, Oswick ensnared Gilbert in a manipulative plan to frame him, thus resulting in his death as revenge for his lack of loyalty. In doing so, Oswick accidentally ensnared himself as well and needed to go to great lengths to reestablish his credibility as a vicious monster. The tale followed his adventures of manipulation under disguise as he attempted to evade apprehension and regain his status. Along the way, he was betrayed by many of his own, who are overpowered by the allure of the monetary reward offered for Oswick’s capture. The novel comes to a close with Oswick scarcely escaping his arrest by own of his own comrades, with the plot coming full circle to the fateful night of the storm which forced Alfred into Oswick’s home.


Bibliography

Blackmore, Sir Richard. King Arthur: An Heroick Poem in Twelve Books. The Camelot Project. University of Rochester. https://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/blackmore-king-arthur-I

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale, of the Eighth Century. London, Dean and Munday, 1823.

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century. London, T. Hurst, 1802.

Surprising Achievements of Oswick, the Bold Outlaw, Chieftain of a Band of Robbers: Containing Also an Interesting Account of Enna, His Fair Captive, As Related by Her Son to King Alfred. A Tale of the Eighth Century. Printed by Dewick and Clarke, for T. Hughes, 1806.


Researcher: Archisha Singh