Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives
Author: John Corry
Publisher: B. Crosby and Co.
Publication Year: 1803
Book Dimensions: 10.80cm x 17.15cm
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C674 A 1803
A tale of adventure, romance, and friendship, John Corry’s 1803 chapbook follows a protagonist’s escape from political persecution, and later follows the story of distant lovers.
Arthur and Mary, a gothic novel written by John Corry, was published in 1803. Arthur and Mary is currently located in the Sadler-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library. It is interesting to note that the edition of Arthur and Mary in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library bears the full title Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives. The title page of this book looks especially modern, with a clear description of the title, author, and publisher of this book. The author’s name, John Corry, is qualified by a sentence reading “author of a satirical view of London, The Detector of quackery, & c.” While the general organization of the book looks modern, such as the title page and the way that book is split into chapters with page numbers at the top of each page, the age of this book is clearly seen in the novel’s appearance. This novel is fairly small, about 6.75 inches long by 4.25 inches wide, with delicate, thin pages. These pages are yellowed, somewhat textured, brittle, and have faint fingerprints on a few pages. The color of these pages resembles a paper that is covered with marks from tea bags. It appears as though only a thin layer of glue is holding the pages of this book together, as there is no clear material binding. This novel most likely had a leather binding with string running through each page holding the pages together, as this was a common binding method during the time period in which Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives was printed. Similarly, there are multiple holes on the side of the pages, suggesting that there was in fact a string that used to hold this book together. This book is clearly aged, and representative of what a book printed over two-hundred years ago would look like.
The overall appearance of this book is worn, used, and stained. The structured format of the title pages and chapters as well as the detailed illustration on inside of the front cover, gives an elegant feel to the book, and suggests thoughtful writing. However, the fact that the original binding of this book is not preserved and that the gothic genre was considered an unsophisticated genre during the time that this book was printed lends a cheap feel to this book. When looking at a randomly selected page in the book, it is clear that there is consistency within the novel. For instance, like the various pages in the novel, the randomly selected page was yellowed, somewhat textured, brittle, and had faint fingerprint marks. The text on all of the pages appears smaller than a standard font in more modern novels, which might be due to the small size of the book in general.
The illustration on the inside cover of the first page is captioned “Mary half dead, held by the rock with the instinctive eagerness of self-preservation,” and depicts a scene from the novel. In the foreground, this illustration depicts a woman holding on to rocks in the middle of a sea, in somewhat of a helpless way. In the background, this illustration depicts a shipwreck, as well as another person located on the other side of the rocks. There are no illustrations throughout the rest of the book, but there does appear to be decorative elements on the title page and on the pages that start a new chapter. The last page of the book is the last page of the story. There is no additional page after the final page of text.
There are no indications of ownership in this book: no names written in the book, notes in the margin, stamps from libraries, bookplates, inserts, or other post-production marks. This could suggest that the book was in the hands of only a few people.
John Corry—author of Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives—was born in north Ireland, and began his writing career in Dublin as a journalist (Mulvihill). His upbringing and education are unknown, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he is presumed to have been self-taught (Goodwinn). In the early 1790s, he moved to London where he became a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square, and also became a member of the Philological Society of Manchester (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). The journals The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry, and Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City both cite the difficulty in articulating John Corry’s cannon (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry cites that the reason for this lack of a cannon is because “many of [John Corry’s] publications have been difficult to date accurately, because new editions and reissues of titles were frequent, and because works first published as part of a series were often reprinted separately” (Pitcher 83). However, it is certain that Corry’s work included poetry, novels, biographies, histories, satires, and juvenile literature (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). Corry’s main writings in London are A Satirical View of London, The English Metropolis, Memoirs of Edward Thornton, and A Sketch of Modern Dissipation in London (Mulvihill). Corry’ biographical writings include biographies on George Washington (1800), William Cowper (1803), and Joseph Priestley (1804) (Goodwinn). In addition to Arthur and Mary, John Corry published seventeen other books from 1800 to 1815. Limited information about John Corry’s life after 1825 is known, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that his “works have now fallen into complete obscurity” (Goodwinn).
In 1803, Crosby and Co, a London-based publishing company, published Arthur and Mary (Mulvihill). Crosby and Co. published Arthur and Mary in English, and English is assumed to be the only language that Arthur and Mary has been published in as there are no indications of this book being translated. The journal article “Making Austen Mad: Benjamin Crosby and the Non-Publication of ‘Susan,’” examines all of Crosby and Co.’s publications, and notes that Crosby and Co. published mainly “musical pieces and songs,” as well as “numerous children’s works” (Mandal 513). These musical pieces and songs mainly consisted of religious discourses and sermons, and the children’s works mainly consisted of conduct-books and educational textbooks (Mandal 513). Thus, Arthur and Mary was a less popular type of publication for Crosby and Co. The journal article argues that Crosby and Co. “was certainty not as low-key as” some critics have professed, as proven by prominent titles that Crosby and Co. published (Mandal 513). This journal article, however, does not categorize Arthur and Mary as one of these prominent titles, and states that “Crosby and Co.’s less eminent credentials are underlined by the fair number of chapbooks it published” (Mandal 513). In its footnote, this journal article cites Arthur and Mary as one of these chapbooks.
One edition of Arthur and Mary is located in the Sadleir-Black Collection in the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. Arthur and Mary is cited in Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography (236). The WorldCat database indicates that other than the University of Virginia library, there are only four other libraries that have Arthur and Mary in their collections. These libraries include the Northwestern University Library in Illinois, US, the University of Notre Dame Library in Indiana, US, and the University of Oxford Library in the UK. This suggests that there are not many publications of Arthur and Mary in circulation, and possibly not many printings or subsequent editions of this book. There is no indication that this book has any prequels or sequels, or that there are any contemporary digital copies of this book on the Internet.
There is not much information about how Arthur and Mary was received when it was originally published, demonstrated by the absence of reviews about this book, or of any information about how many copies of this book were sold. Arthur and Mary, however, is mentioned in Franz J. Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835 in Appendix 2 “Gothic Bluebooks, 1799–1835” (166).
Narrative Point of View
Arthur and Mary is narrated in third person by an omniscient narrator who is never introduced in the text. The narrator’s style consists of detailed descriptions of scenery, events, and characters’ internal emotions. The narration begins following only Arthur, the protagonist of the novel, and his journey away from his home due to political persecution. The narrator later follows Mary, Arthur’s love interest, in addition to Arthur, and tells both storylines of the characters falling in love and each character’s journey traveling from Ireland to London. The narration is chronological, told in the past tense, and does not contain any flashbacks. The narrator writes in concise, yet descriptive, sentences with a hopeful and passionate tone.
Example of Third-Person Narration:
When Mary retired to her room she found this letter, and read it with a tumultuous emotion of mingling passions. Surprise, love, and joy, electrified every nerve. She resolved to answer the letter, which she read repeatedly, and her vanity was not a little gratified with the contents. It was the first love-letter she had ever received; but how to answer it was the point. She placed paper upon the table before her, dipped her pen into the ink, and after casting a scrutinizing glance round her chamber, she began with a palpitating heart. Her hand trembled so much that she could not write one word — she desisted — went to a window and opened it to admit fresh air — her spirits revived, and summoning all her fortitude, she wrote as follows… (14)
The narrator’s concise yet heavily detailed sentences are present throughout this passage. This passage occurs directly after Mary finds Arthur’s letter, in which he professes his love for her, and directly before the narrator tells of what is said in Mary’s letter back to Arthur. The explicit description of Mary’s emotions after Mary reads Arthur’s letter, using words like “tumultuous,” “mingling,” “electrified,” “palpitating,” and “trembled,” adds to the suspense of the novel, as these words signify such great levels of feeling and passion. Consequently, this passage, as representative of the narration throughout the novel, demands attention from the reader. The thorough description of Mary’s actions after reading the letter are also consistent with many gothic tropes, including romance, mystery and fear, and confinement. Verbs like “began” and “revived” in this passage reveal the hopeful and passionate tone found throughout the novel, as this language suggests possibility.
This novel begins by introducing Arthur, a sixteen-year-old boy living just outside of Newry, Ireland. Arthur is the son of a farmer, and is taken out of school in order to be homeschooled in agriculture. The novel quickly transitions to Arthur at the age of twenty-two, and describes Arthur as a “tall and well-made” man, whose “mind was ardent,” “passions [were] strong,” and who “view[ed] the world through the medium of enthusiasm” with an “erroneous opinion” (6). With Ireland’s politics in turmoil, Arthur joins the popular party. His outspoken opinions prompt a neighbor to inform the town of Newry, Ireland, that Arthur is a “disseminator of sedition” (6). As a result, soldiers arrive at Arthur’s home and search for him, but Arthur escapes and sets out for England.
On his journey across Ireland, Arthur travels over mountains, passing small villages, and appreciates the mountains, sea, and nature surrounding him. Hunger prompts him to find a large farmhouse, where Owen Conolly, the owner of the farm, receives him with hospitality. Owen is the proprietor of the valley in which this farm is located, and his ancestors had taken possession of this valley when they sought asylum from English King Oliver Cromwell. Arthur sleeps over at this farmhouse, and when he wakes up, he is introduced to Owen’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Mary.
Mary is reserved and bashful, and her “feminine charms” catch Arthur’s admiration (2). As a result, Arthur decides that he should stay at the farm until the political persecution in Newry is over, and during this time he will tutor Mary each day to “further [the] improvement of her mind” (11). Each day, Mary’s beauty captivates Arthur, and he begins falling in love with her. Arthur writes a note to Mary detailing that he has liked her since the moment he saw her, and now he is in love with her and requests that she accept his heart. In finding this letter, Mary is filled with emotions, and writes back saying that she worries Arthur is not genuine in his expression of love, as he is a “gentleman” and she is a “poor woman” (14). Nevertheless, Arthur professes his love for Mary a second time while on a walk together, and she reciprocates these feelings. They kiss, and vow to temporarily keep their love a secret.
Owen’s oblivion to Arthur and Mary’s love prompts him to give his blessing to Terence Finn, a rich young farmer who became enamored with Mary after seeing her at mass. Terence arrives at the farmhouse, and professes his affection for Mary, but Mary rejects this affection and turns down Terence. Earlier that evening, Owen informed Terence of Arthur’s predicament, and how he is seeking protection from Newry soldiers. When Terence realizes that Mary is in love with Arthur, Terence rides to Newry and informs Arthur’s rivals of Arthur’s whereabouts.
The following day, soldiers arrived at the farmhouse. The soldiers take Arthur into custody, and shove Mary to the ground as she runs to Arthur’s defense and demands that the soldiers take her too. Enraged by the soldier’s aggression towards Mary, Arthur attacks the soldier, and consequently is shot and taken to the county jail in Newry. In distress, Mary travels to the county jail with her loyal friend, Anna. Anna creates an escape plan where she and Arthur switch clothes in order to create a disguise for Arthur. This plan works and Arthur escapes with Mary. Mary returns to her village and Arthur travels to Liverpool.
Jobless with no friends in Liverpool, Arthur travels to Birmingham. One night during the journey, he wakes up with a fever due to his extensive travels. He slowly recovers after a week of illness, and continues his journey to Birmingham with no money and no home. During this journey, he meets Mr. Heron, a native of Ireland who had just sold his small estate in Ireland. Mr. Heron is traveling across Europe by foot, and Arthur joins him on his way to Birmingham. Throughout their journey, Arthur is charmed by Mr. Heron’s charisma and has a strong belief that philanthropy is a “duty we owe to society” (23). When they reach Birmingham, Mr. Heron urges Arthur to accompany him further on his journey across Europe. Mary’s “voice of love secretly remind[s] Arthur of his solemn promise,” and prompts Arthur to refuse Mr. Heron’s request. Arthur and Mr. Heron part ways (23).
Arthur sets out to London and starts an academy for instructing the youth of London. He constantly writes to Mary, and urges her to come to London. Upon getting Owen’s approval, Mary prepares to travel to London with Anna. Mary and Anna begin their voyage at sea, and Mary is devastated to leave her father and possibly never again return to Ireland, but determined to reconnect with Arthur. Mary and Anna come in contact with a major storm towards the end of their voyage, as they are just off of the Welsh Coast. This storm creates massive waves, thrusting the ship towards the rocky Welsh Coast. The ship crashes into the coast and breaks into pieces, forcing the passengers to swim to shore for survival. Mary and Anna grab wood from the destroyed ship, and venture towards the coast. As they arrive on the coast, Anna helps Mary get on to a rock, but as she attempts to also get on the rock, her traction is lost. The strong waves forcefully throw Anna into the rock, and she is killed.
Other survivors of the shipwreck carry Mary to a farmhouse on the coast, where Mary is distraught about Anna’s death. She writes to Arthur, telling him about the shipwreck, and about her arrival in Conway, Wales. Arthur arrives in Conway and he and Mary are reunited. When they reunite, Mary forgets all of her misfortunes.
Arthur and Mary get married in Conway, and set out for Arthur’s home in Birmingham the next day. Arthur is said to love England, and to frequently write both his parents and Owen. The novel ends with Arthur happily in love with Mary, engaged in teaching the youth as his occupation, and enjoying “all those social gratifications which are essential to rational felicity” (36).
A. A. Mandal. “Making Austen Mad: Benjamin Crosby and the Non-Publication of ‘Susan.’” The Review of English Studies, vol. 57, no. 231, 2006, pp. 507–25
Corry, John. Arthur and Mary: Or the Fortunate Fugitives. Printed for B. Crosby and Co. [etc.], 1803.
Goodwinn, G. “Corry, John” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004, September 23. doi:https://www-oxforddnb-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-6357
Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007. Gale Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.
PITCHER, E. W. “The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry (1760?–1825?).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 83–90.
Potter, Franz J. The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835: Exhuming the Trade. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
Researcher: Carolyn R. Santangelo