Durward and Isabelle
Publisher: Dean & Munday
Publication Year: c. 1820s
Book Dimensions: 11 cm x 16 cm
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.M353 n.d.
An abridged plagiarism of Sir Walter Scott’s 1823 novel Quentin Durward, this chapbook follows the grotesque adventures of Scottish cavalier Quentin Durward and his romance with the beautiful Countess Isabelle.
Durward and Isabelle appears to be a flimsy few scraps of paper being held together by what looks like a piece of twine. The full title is simply Durward and Isabelle. The book is bound together with another chapbook, Mary, the Maid of the Inn, which precedes Durward and Isabelle. It appears as though the back of Mary, the Maid of the Inn, was ripped out, since there are remnants of torn paper at the last page. The paper of Durward and Isabelle is not as yellow compared to Mary, the Maid of the Inn, and the two texts are printed in different fonts. This suggests that Durward and Isabelle was likely bound to Mary, the Maid of the Inn at a later time.
The origins of this chapbook remain a mystery, as there is no listed author. However, the publisher is listed at the bottom of the final page as “Dean and Munday, Threadneedle-Street, London.” Mary, the Maid of the Inn has a title page with a different publisher listed. The cover of Mary, the Maid of the Inn does have some handwriting on it, but it is impossible to know if this was written before or after the chapbooks were bound together.
The dimensions of the book are about 11cm x 16 cm, so it is fairly small. Durward and Isabelle is thirty-six pages long, while the previous story is twenty-five pages, making for a total of sixty-one pages bound together by a single piece of fraying string. The last page of Durward and Isabelle has fallen off but is still kept with the book in the library. The pages are very brittle and dry, and are also very frail and yellowed, likely due to the wear and tear that the book has been subject to over the years. The margins are decently sized while the font is relatively small but not difficult to read. There is a surprisingly large amount of spacing between paragraphs. The margins are uneven: there is little to no space at the top at the top of the book, while there are much larger side margins.
While Mary, the Maid of the Inn contains a fold-out illustration, there are no illustrations in Durward & Isabelle. There are some words handwritten on the cover: in the top right corner, the word “romance” is written in pencil and “1822” (the year Mary, the Maid of the Inn was published) in ink. On the bottom of the cover, there is a series of numbers and letters without clear meaning.
Durward and Isabelle is a chapbook that is a plagiarized and abridged version of Quentin Durward, a novel written by Sir Walter Scott published in 1823. The author of Durward and Isabelle is not known. At only thirty-six pages, the chapbook is much shorter than the original novel and brushes over many of the major plot points. While the original novel is focused on Quentin Durward and his adventures, the chapbook is more focused on Durward’s adventures that involve his relationship with Isabelle, hence the title Durward and Isabelle. The plagiarized chapbook was published by Dean and Munday, as printed on the last page of the book. Dean and Munday was a popular publishing institution established in 1810 that published many other chapbooks. The Dean and Munday families lived together and raised their children together in their home behind the shop on Threadneedle Street. Two cousins, Thomas Dean and Thomas Munday, became apprentices, then later became partners in the firm. This partnership lasted until 1838, when it was permanently dissolved (Potter 86). According to Franz Potter, “During these early years at Dean & Munday, the firm also reissued a number of well-known gothic pamphlets originally published by other booksellers” (87). Durward and Isabelle is listed as one of the one-shilling pamphlets published by Dean and Munday in a book titled The French Revolution of 1830: Being a Succinct Account of the Tyrannical Attempt of Charles X. to Overturn the French Constitution. Interestingly, Mary, the Maid of the Inn is also on this list of Dean and Munday pamphlets printed with The French Revolution of 1830, though the copy of Mary, the Maid of the Inn bound with the Sadleir-Black Collection’s copy of Durward and Isabelle was published by Orlando Hodgson not Dean and Munday.
Given Sir Walter Scott’s significance, there is an abundance of information about his original novel Quentin Durward by contrast with the dearth of information on the plagiarized and abridged Durward and Isabelle. In a late nineteenth-century edition of Quentin Durward edited by Charlotte M. Yonge, Yonge includes a historical introduction in which she writes that Scott “held that it was lawful for art to throw together historical characters and facts with more regard to effect than to accuracy or detail, and thus to leave a stronger impression on the mind. And there can be no doubt that the tale he has given us has fixed on thousands of minds a strong and definite impression of the characters of Louis XI” (14). In writing this, Yonge identifies the significant impact that the characters of Quentin Durward had on the public point of view.
There are other notable adaptations of Scott’s novel, including Quentin Durward; a dramatic adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, in three acts and three scenes, by Charles Andrew Merz and Frank Wright Tuttle.This adaptation was published in 1914 and is associated with the Yale University Dramatic Association. There are digital copies of the original Quentin Durward and its adaptations available on ProQuest One Literature and the HathiTrust Library. The novel was even adapted into a film called The Adventures of Quentin Durward, released in 1955.
Narrative Point of View
Durward and Isabelle is narrated in the third person, and the narrator is never named nor are we given any context on how they learned of the story. The story is told in a very straightforward fashion, yet still manages to incorporate feelings of characters. The narration is filled with expansive sentences, with an emphasis on depicting events and with minimal dialogue.
The young and beautiful Isabelle had fled from Burgundy, to avoid being married to one of the Duke’s favourites; and whether she was really under King Louis’s protection, was not certainly known. Durward could not help conjecturing, from circumstances, that the young lady he had seen in the morning, and with whose charms he had been smitten, was, in fact, the young countess. While the knowledge of her rank and misfortunes interested him yet more strongly in her fate, it tended to damp any presumptuous hopes which love might have induced him to form. (8)
As seen here, in Durward and Isabelle the narration is succinct and descriptive, and effectively explains the characters’ thoughts and feelings at certain moments. This can be seen when Durward deduces that the woman he saw is the countess, and the narration presents not only what he knows but how he feels with his subsequently lowered “hopes.”
Durward and Isabelle tells the tale of a fifteenth-century Scottish cavalier, Durward, and Isabelle, a Countess. The story begins when Durward is met by King Louis XI of France by chance. Durward introduces himself as a cadet of Scotland, who came to France to seek fortune. It is later revealed that his father and remaining family members were killed by a rivaling clan, and this caused his mother to die of grief. Upon Durward’s introduction, the King also discovers that he knows Durward’s uncle, Lesie, who comes to the castle to meet him and the king. The king eventually decides to recruit this young cavalier as one of his men, after consulting with his astronomer, Martius Galeoletti, who says that Durward has good intentions. Durward has multiple encounters with Isabelle throughout the beginning of the story, as she is residing at the castle where the king lives.
One day while Durward is strolling through the garden, he comes across a man hanging from a tree. Appalled by this circumstance, he immediately climbs up the tree and cuts the rope, onlooking Bohemians react badly to this action. The king’s right-hand man, Provost Marshall, takes them all prisoner. Durward thinks he is going to be hanged along with the Bohemians but then proceeds to defend himself, claiming he is from Scotland which is an allied country. His life is spared.
It is revealed that the reason Isabelle is under the king’s protection is because she fled from Burgundy after discovering that she was to be married to one of the duke’s men. A count sent by the Duke of Burgundy appears while searching for the ladies (Isabelle and her Aunt). The king refuses to give them up and, after the count threatens to wage war on the kingdom, the king decides to send Isabelle and her aunt away to Liege to be under the protection of the bishop. The king appoints Durward in charge of taking Lady Isabelle and her aunt to Liege with three soldiers and a guide. Throughout their journey they encounter many men who want to claim possession of Isabelle, including William de la Marck, a feared man from the area, and the Duke of Orleans, who is to be wed to Isabelle’s sister but would rather marry her instead.
William de la Marck, in a fit of rage, decides to take over the city of Liege and murders the bishop in cold blood. Durward and Isabelle must escape together. During the siege, Durward presents himself to Willam de la Marck and says that if they are to be allied with France, they must not present themselves with this sort of conduct, so William de la Marck complies, and they all leave. De la Marck then threatens to return because he hears word that Isabelle is still hiding in the city. Isabelle at this point is willing to sacrifice herself to the Duke of Burgundy and decides she will offer to give up her patrimonial estates and ask permission to retire in a convent. They make it back to the Duke of Burgundy and the same day, the king decides to visit him too. The Duke of Burgundy hears about William de la Marcks violent tactics and believes that this is King Louis’ doing. He imprisons the king and plans for his execution.
After days of trials and Durward’s statement is given, the duke determines that the king is innocent and decides they are to combine forces to capture William de la Marck. Who will receive Isabelle’s hand in marriage remains in question, so as incentive, the duke says that whoever is successful in killing de la Marck wins Isabelle’s hand in marriage. Upon hearing this, Durward searches for de la Marck, and finds him decapitated. In defeat, he returns to the castle only to discover his uncle Lesie standing with William de la Marck’s head, which he brought on Durward’s behalf. Durward and Isabelle are both pleased with the arrangement and end up married together happily ever after.
Durward and Isabelle. London, Dean & Munday, n.d.
The French Revolution of 1830: Being a Succinct Account of the Tyrannical Attempt of Charles X. to Overturn the French Constitution, Etc. [With a Plate.]. Dean & Munday, 1830.
Merz, Charles Andrew, and Frank Wright Tuttle. Quentin Durward: a Dramatic Adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s Novel, in Three Acts and Three Scenes.New Haven, Yale University Dramatic Association, 1914.
Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks and Shilling Shockers, 1797–1830. University of Wales Press, 2021.
Yonge, Charlotte M. “Introduction.” Quentin Durward, by Sir Walter Scott. Boston, Ginn & Co, 1895.
Researcher: Misha Panda