The Commodore’s Daughter

The Commodore’s Daughter

The Commodore’s Daughter

Author: Benjamin Barker
Publisher: Edward Lloyd
Publication Year: 1847
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 13.5cm x 21.75cm
Pages: 68
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.L856 1800z no.3

With its twists and turns, this transatlantic tale recounts heartbreak, love, desire, and greed. Where one end is tied, another frays, keeping readers in suspense. There is no shortage of the gothic in this text.

Material History

The cover of The Commodore’s Daughter is 21.75 cm tall and 13.5 cm wide with a spine thickness of 1.5 cm. While the cover does not have a special design, the two corners and part of the spine have a softer and lighter leather than the rest of the book’s cover, which is a rougher and darker leather. There are three stories bound within this volume and the spine is decorated with gold lettering with the titles: Lucelle. — Julia St. Pierre. — Commodore’s Daughter

This opening page for The Commodore’s Daughter contains a small note at the top that reads “complete” 

The Commodore’s Daughter, by Benjamin Barker, begins approximately two-thirds of the way into this volume. The pages are clearly in excellent shape. The title page is plain and includes the title, author, and publication information: “PUBLISHED BY E. LLOYD, 12, SALISBURY-SQUARE, FLEET-STREET, AND SOLD BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.” The next page, which starts the text of the story, also includes a detailed picture and caption, as well as the word, “complete” handwritten lightly in pencil at the top of the page. The Commodore’s Daughter was originally published as a “penny dreadful” serial, which is when small cheap portions of the story were published at regular intervals and later bound together. “No. 1,” “No. 2,” etc. appear at the bottom corners of their respective pages (outside of the border created around the text) to indicate the start of a new section of the story. Though the sections were all printed, sold, and originally purchased separately, this version is “complete” because these sections have now been bound together.

The Commodore’s Daughter is sixty-eight pages long. The text is small, always surrounded by a decorative border, and relatively easy to read with decent-sized margins. This copy of The Commodore’s Daughter also shows an error made during printing. Though the final chapter appears to be Chapter XIX, this book does not have nineteen chapters, but rather, eighteen, with one entire chapter having been skipped due to misnumbering. The book leaps from Chapter XVII to Chapter XIX, which should have been correctly numbered as Chapter XVIII. This erroneous Chapter XIX is printed on the back of the page with Chapter XVII. Interestingly, the side of the page with Chapter XVII is much more pristine and in better shape than the other side, which must have been exposed at one point to different environmental conditions.

Textual History

The Commodore’s Daughter was written by Benjamin Barker—an author who was no stranger to publishing, as he released nineteen other works under his name. Two publishers produced The Commodore’s Daughter—Frederick Gleason in Boston, Massachusetts in 1846, and Edward Lloyd in London in 1847—and versions of each are housed in the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction. 

The preface page for The Commodore’s Daughter

The Lloyd and Gleason printings of The Commodore’s Daughter contain a few key differences. For instance, the 1846 Gleason printing (which is also available on Google Books) includes the alternate title, The Dwarf of the Channel, or, The Commodore’s Daughter. While both versions contain the same story content, the Gleason’s version prints the story in columns, and this copy also lacks the illustrations present in the Lloyd version. Lloyd’s 1847 printing also initially appeared serialized as a penny dreadful.

The Lloyd printing of The Commodore’s Daughter contains a preface dated December 1847. In this preface, “the Publisher” provides context for the story’s historical significance, characters, and plot, including the backstory and setting. The final sentence of the preface reads: “The moral of the tale is unexceptionable, and as the incidents do not violate probability, and the characters are so truly drawn, the Publisher anticipates a favourable reception for the work.”

Like much of gothic literature that has faded from view, The Commodore’s Daughter has not remained widely available and the publisher’s projected “favourable reception” was short-lived, if at all. However, there are a few notable online versions. In addition to digital copies of the Gleason printing available via Google Books, Historical Texts has a digitized version of the Lloyd edition. In 2010, the British Library Historical Print Editions released a reprinting of The Commodore’s Daughter

Benjamin Barker has a notable publishing history. Not only did he publish nearly twenty works under his name, but he also published under the pseudonym Egbert Augustus Cowslip. One of his most well-known works under this pseudonym was Zoraida; or The witch of Naumkeag! A Tale of the Olden Time. Another of Barker’s works published under his own name, Blackbeard, or, The Pirate of Roanoke, is listed on Amazon and, as of 2021, has several reviews including one with a complaint about its historical inaccuracies, which reiterates the preface of The Commodore’s Daughter regarding the accuracy of accounts of the American Revolution.

Narrative Point of View

The Commodore’s Daughter is narrated in the third person (and occasionally with first-person plural moments) by an unnamed omniscient narrator who does not appear in the text. The narration feels relatively modern, but still contains antiquated vernacular. The paragraphs and sentences are generally lengthy. Yet, there still are inconsistencies in the style, with some paragraphs being much longer or using more eloquent vocabulary than others. The narration describes the characters and their feelings matter-of-factly (and frequently through characters’ actions), and there is very little text dedicated to introspection. The narration also contains much more description than dialogue.

Sample Passage: 

Premising that the following romance is founded upon facts, with the details of which many of our readers may possibly be acquainted, and that for particular reason, we shall claim the privilege and take the liberty of introducing our principal characters under fictitious names, we now proceed to open our story as follows… (1)

By performing that this fictional story is based on facts—a common gothic trope—the narrator effectively tells the story with increased credibility (and possibly more shock value, as well). The narrator seeks to communicate a story by establishing familiarity with the characters in the book without revealing their names, thus providing an even foundation to readers and inviting everyone to enjoy the story with shared knowledge provided by the narrator from the beginning. The use of the first-person plural “we” also gives a more rounded and less singular feeling to the narration, enabling the fictional story to mimic an actual recounting of events.


In the early days of the American Revolution, before the colonies had banded together to declare their own independence, an old and cunning man by the name of Henry Hartville desired a fortune that was supposed to be inherited by a girl named Nora. Through his meticulous planning, Henry was able to trick Nora into believing that she was his daughter, all the while finding the perfect suitor for her so that Henry could obtain this wealth. The story then asks what Henry Hartville’s plan is to arrive at his goal.

The title page for The Commodore’s Daughter

An older, “deformed” man named John Ellery, frequently described in the text as a “dwarf,” has taken under his wing a “maniac” girl, Helen Morton, whose parents died years prior. John Ellery is one day met by a man carrying a letter and a black crucifix, who leaves soon after handing him these mysterious items. Despite not knowing who this man is or who the person who wrote the letter could be, Mr. Ellery accepts the commands listed out to him on the letter without any hesitation. One of those commands being to seek Nora Hartville out to keep under his wing, which the story reveals later.

Luckily, Mr. Ellery met with a ship on its way to a New England port, carrying several passengers in its cabins. Since he is able to pilot the ship, Mr. Ellery is gratefully accepted by the captain to guide it to its destination. Mr. Ellery, however, begins to take notice of a peculiar passenger whom the captain dreaded and wanted jettisoned as soon as possible. Through a careful line of questioning, Mr. Ellery finally realizes what he had hoped to find——the girl on the ship is Nora Hartville, the one the letter instructed him to keep under his wing for the next few years.

Mr. Ellery, Helen Morton, and Nora Hartville all arrive at Mr. Ellery’s home and remain there for several months in peace, as Helen and Nora become closer in what Helen describes as a sisterhood. Unfortunately, the fateful night arrives soon enough, and Miles Warton, the man who brought the letter and the crucifix to Mr. Ellery so long ago, finally comes to collect Nora Hartville for the suitor that Henry Hartville had set up for her. Miles Warton was a criminal, so Mr. Ellery knew his arrival at the cottage meant something was wrong. Prior to their meeting, Mr. Ellery heard Nora’s objections to the forced marriage, for the girl had her heart set on another man, George Wellington. Both parties soon realize that this night will not go as planned. In a shocking turn of events, Warton is killed by none other than Helen Morton, as she defends her adoptive father from being harmed by the criminal. 

Through many events to follow, George Wellington, who was originally deprived of his desire to see his love, Nora Hartville, meets up with a man named Edward Hale, Helen Morton’s former lover. It is revealed that once George and Edward work together in their search for their lovers, the cruel and conniving plans of  Henry Hartville can be overturned.

This page shows the final chapter, which was misnumbered as chapter nineteen though it should have been numbered chapter eighteen.

Yet before their arrival, another surprising figure appears: the former wife of Mr. Ellery, whose name is Julia. Long ago, Julia (the original owner of the black crucifix) held a gun to her husband’s chest in a fit of hatred and demanded that he follow the orders of whoever bears the crucifix. Now, Julia seeks forgiveness for the trouble she has caused, and the old man gracefully accepts. Seeing that Mr. Ellery accepted her apology, Julia knows she can now rest, and she breathes her last breath at her former husband’s humble cottage.

Finally having come to peace with his life, Mr. Ellery travels with his daughters and their suitors (who have found his cottage after a long search) to the ship of a well-known commodore, where it is revealed that the villainous Henry Hartville is aboard the vessel. Cornered and seeing that all his plans have been foiled, Henry Hartville takes a pistol to his head and pulls the trigger, allowing for Edward Hale and Helen Morton to fulfill their love and Nora and George Wellington to do the same. Through much pain and sorrow, Mr. Ellery finally gets to live a happy life away from shame.


Barker, Benjamin B. Blackbeard Or The Pirate of Roanoke. Amazon eBook, 17 May 2012, Accessed 10 November 2021.

——. The Commodore’s Daughter. E. Lloyd, 1847.

——. The Dwarf of the Channel, Or, The Commodore’s Daughter: A Nautical Romance of the Revolution.  Gleason’s Publishing Hall, 1846.

“Barker, Benjamin.” North Carolina Literary Map. UNCG University Libraries, 

Cowslip, Egbert Augustus [Benjamin B. Barker]. Zoraida, or, the Witch of Naumkeag! A Tale of the Olden Time. Gleason’s Publishing Hall, 1845.

Researcher: Jackson Utz

Angelina; Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey

Angelina; Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey

Angelina; Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days

Author: Thomas Peckett Prest
Publisher: Edward Lloyd
Publication Year: 1841
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 14 x 21.5 cm
Pages: 236
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .P74 An 1841

Angelina is one of Thomas Peckett Prest’s serialized works from 1841 that centers around murder, mystery, and forbidden love.

Material History

The novel, having come out in serialized parts, was likely assembled by a G. Sharpe, whose name is handwritten on this page prior to the title page. The book was probably popular at the time and its ownership most likely transferred, leading this writing to be crossed out.

Angelina: Or, the Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days by Thomas Peckett Prest was published in 1841 in serialized parts. Releasing the novel in parts lowered the cost of producing the book as a whole. Each section would have been sold using an image on the first page of the part as an incentive to purchase it. For this reason, each page with an image has a corresponding label at the bottom of the page to signify its order among the parts. The parts were presumably compiled by a G. Sharpe, whose signature appears on the blank pages prior to the assembled novel’s frontispiece and title page. Along with his signature is the date handwritten as follows: July 16, 1841. However, the name and date are crossed out, implying that this edition had multiple owners.

The book is bound in a cloth detailed with an artificially ingrained texture. Sharpe chose to use leather on the edges of the cover and the binding of the spine which has kept the exterior of the book in great condition for its age. The pages are speckled with red thinned out paint which was a common aesthetic for nineteenth-century books. The book is in very good condition due to the binding that Sharpe chose for the book. However, the pages have become slightly yellow and brittle with age. There are some pages that were saturated by a substance as well as a few torn pages that have been mended by the Special Collections archivists. The book was easily elegant in its day, as can be seen through the careful measures taken by Sharpe in binding it. The worn quality of Angelina demonstrates its popularity when Prest was at the prime of his career.

The detail in the images of Angelina are impressive compared to other texts of its days, displaying aesthetic visions specific to the author. Images during the Gothic period of literature were produced through making woodblock prints. Such prints were created by physically carving into wood to create the desired image. They would have been lined up with the text and inked during the printing process. At the beginning of the book, opposite the title page, is a frontispiece, which is the largest image in the book and the only image that possesses a quote. It reads, “They soon entered a spacious and lofty cavern, round which were piled on immense number of casks, chests, bales of goods, while arms and ammunition were there in abundance.” This sentence describes the setting most important to the narration in Angelina.

The frontispiece was created by a woodblock print, meaning that the artist carved wood with precision to create such images. This is the only image in the novel that has a quote beneath it which describes the setting central to the novel. Across from the frontispiece is the title page that includes the full title and a list of Prest’s other works below his name.

As to the type itself, the font size is much smaller than is usually seen today. The margins are typical in size, yet there is no inner margin which is a current stylistic feature for books. The images are placed every four pages on the front of the right page since it was released as parts rather than an entire novel. The images are a page and a half in size, featuring artistry of woodblock printed images that are hard to come by anymore.

Textual History

Angelina: Or, the Mystery at St. Mark’s Abbey was published in 1841 by Edward Lloyd of London. Lloyd regulated many newspapers, the most successful of them being Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper and The Penny Sunday Times and People’s Police Gazette; Angelina was published in the latter. He gained the nickname “father of the cheap press” as he sought to bring exciting literary works to the lower classes. Lloyd played a part in history through assisting the rise of the serial novel in which a new part would appear in successive weekly editions of a newspaper. Angelina, in particular, is one of many of Prest’s successful serial novels that appeared courtesy of Lloyd and his work as a newspaper proprietor. Journalist Anne Humphrey’s states that “perhaps half of Lloyd’s penny bloods” were written by Prest, who was “one of his most prolific and most successful authors”. The significance of the serial novel and the success of Angelina are both referenced in the preface of the novel Angelina.

This page of Angelina is missing letters in many places.

Interestingly, the edition of the novel housed in the Sadleir-Black Collection does not include a preface at all, though a preface does appear in other editions. The preface can be found online through a scanned edition published courtesy of the New York Public Library on Google Books. 

The preface functions as both a historical reference as well as an advertisement. The first paragraph of the preface discusses the popularity of Angelina upon its release in the “penny” press, which led its pieces to later be compiled into a novel format. The author of the preface informs the readers that Angelina’s pieces were originally published in The Penny Sunday Times and People’s Police Gazette

Prest appears most frequently in scholarly works related to his involvement with the serial novels of the penny press. Prest’s work in particular falls under the category of penny dreadfuls, or the terror genre of the penny press. This nineteenth-century phenomena began through its reproduction of eighteenth century gothic fiction via cheap means. Currently, only one of Prest’s works, The String of Pearls is more widely recognized as a significant and impactful part of this literature.

Though there is a lack of information on Prest himself, the author obviously sought to promote himself through an advertisement which is the second half of the preface. The phrase “New and Entirely Original Tale of Romance and Pathos” along with Prest’s upcoming works Emily Fitzomord; Or, The Deserted One and The Death Grasp; Or, A Father’s Curse emphasize the importance in self-promotion for both Lloyd and Prest.

Despite their combined efforts, Prest experienced a success limited to his day and age as only one of his characters is truly known today. However, Angelina, being one of Prest’s earlier works, most likely influenced the author’s writing style and, therefore, his subsequent works. In particular, the elements of terror in Angelina were just the beginning of Prest’s concepts that would appear in The String of Pearls. The latter work was adapted for the theatre which debuted in March of 1847 and is the basis for the modern-day movie adaptation Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (“Sweeney Todd”). While Angelina can be found in modern day print published by HardPress and accessible via Kindle. Its current lack of reviews allude to the lack of popularity Prest receives today. The String of Pearls, on the other hand, can be readily found in print and in theatrical adaptation.

Narrative Point of View

Angelina: Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey is told through third-person omniscient narration. The narrator does not play an active role in the storyline; however, they hardly makes himself known until the end of the novel, when the backstories of characters are finally revealed. At this point, they speak directly to the reader before divulging events of the past that have remained hidden. Overall, the narration is very detailed and elaborative, yet the narrator remains detached in their descriptions of events and emotions. The narrator follows the protagonist, Angelina, until she becomes separated from her loved ones, which happens frequently in the novel. When Angelina gets kidnapped, the narrator proves their omniscient perspective in cycling through each scenario for Angelina, her Uncle Woodfield, and her lover Hugh Clifford.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

Saint Mark’s Abbey had evidently been a splendid edifice, but it had been left to decay for many years, and few persons in the place would venture to approach it after night-fall, for, like most old buildings, it was reported to be haunted, and many appalling legends were related by the old gossips, as they sat trembling before their blazing fire on a winter evening, concerning the dreadful crimes which had been perpetrated within its mouldering walls. The more reasonable, and less superstitious portion of the community, however, accounted for the noises that had been heard to issue at various periods from the gothic pile, in a far more probable way; and it was strongly suspected that the abbey was, in fact, the retreat of a gang of robbers or smugglers—more particularly the latter, and although the proper authorities had hitherto failed in making any satisfactory discovery, it was still hoped that they would succeed ere long in doing so, and in setting all doubts upon the subject at rest. (2)

In this passage, the narrator is describing the setting most central to the novel, St. Mark’s Abbey, or what is left of it. The description of the abbey is done through focusing on the conditions surrounding the ruins, which sets the tone for the setting itself. The narrator uses their omniscience to impart the emotions of the surrounding peoples who keep their distance from the ruins, regardless of what they believe. The narrator first relays the more superstitious group of people who have heard rumors of terrible crimes being committed within its now decaying walls. After this, the narrator describes the more realistic option, which foreshadows the end of the novel when it is revealed that Angelina’s mother, Matilda, and her mother’s cousin, Emmeline, are still alive. The narrator’s knowledge of both scenarios reflects their omniscience.

Sample Passage of Direct Address:

We will now proceed to detail the particulars of the “strange eventful history” connected with the principle characters in our narrative, and with which the reader is, no doubt, anxious to be made acquainted. (215)

This passage occurs at the end of the novel, just before the backstories are revealed. The narrator uses the pronoun “we” to describe who is telling the story, an intimacy that is reinforced by the inclusion of the word “our” later in the sentence. Interestingly, the narrator, who usually sets the mood though their lengthy descriptions, here decides to directly address the readers. By saying that the reader is “no doubt, anxious to be made acquainted,” the narrator breaks the fourth wall, reminding the reader of the fictive nature of the content in making a clear cut between the present and the past.


The novel begins with the protagonist, Angelina, who is accompanied by her cousin, Lauren Woodfield. While in the deserted ruins of St. Mark’s Abbey, the young ladies see the apparition of a woman that warns Angelina not to return there for her own safety. However, Angelina’s brave spirit only causes her to become increasingly curious as she sees another apparition while exploring a nearby cavern during a storm. This apparition is a handsome man that plays the flute and appears later in Angelina’s dreams. Upon waking from this dream, Angelina returns to the cave, this time finding a door leading to a gallery. Coincidentally, this gallery belongs to St. Mark’s Abbey. To her surprise, Angelina finds she is not alone when she sees the villainous Baron de Morton and his servant Rufus. The pair are quietly discussing a terrible secret. Angelina accidently reveals herself to the Baron, who becomes frightened upon believing her to be a ghost related to his dark deeds. The narrator here divulges the Baron’s history, most importantly stating the interesting nature of his brother’s disappearance followed by his marriage to a widowed baroness. Angelina then overhears a conversation between Rufus and the Baron, in which they speak about Angelina and proclaim that she must die. Angelina returns home shaken.

The cover of the book is cloth detailed with an artificially ingrained texture.

The first apparition of the woman returns, this time visiting Angelina’s uncle, Arthur Woodfield, with whom she lives. The apparition speaks to him privately, causing Arthur to be stern during an unexpected meeting with the Baron when he shows up at the Woodfield’s. Afterwards, the Baron leaves obviously upset and Arthur refuses to talk to his family about either the Baron or the woman. The only insight he gives them is through the promise he forces Angelina to make: she can never return to the Abbey.

Despite her promise, Angelina returns many weeks later, this time discovering a sliding picture frame that conceals a room similar to Angelina’s dreams. She witnesses a woman running about the ruins but she refuses to speak and runs away instead. Upon searching the premises, she is startled upon finding a chest containing bones. Angelina resolves to leave but runs into the Baron, who is frightened of her, initially believing her to be a ghost. Suddenly, the Baron grabs her arm and attempts to end her life, just as she had experienced in her dreams. The flute-playing apparition appears and saves her from the Baron, revealing himself to actually be a young man. Without introducing himself, he makes it obvious that he wants to protect Angelina. The next night, Angelina hears a sweet melody coming from beyond her window; she looks out to see the stranger once again. 

The next day, Angelina is wandering outside, contemplating her feelings toward the mysterious stranger, when he appears and admits his feelings towards her, presenting her with a miniature of himself. That evening, while exploring the cavern, she sees the handsome stranger with some smugglers. Angelina is captured and taken aboard a ship by a different group of bandits. They eventually reach land, where she discovers she has been captured under the designs of the Baron, who questions her of her origins and her parents; Angelina knows none of her descent beyond the Woodfields. Bridget, who resents being married to one of the bandits, takes care of Angelina. It is only after Angelina attempts to make her solo escape that Bridget opens up to her. The castle where Angelina is being held captive has a dark history including the possible murder of the Baron’s brother who mysteriously disappeared; this information is striking to Angelina as she has felt a cold arm on her every night as she sleeps. Bridget then hints towards the portrait on the wall, behind which is a doorway that leads to a room where Angelina can overhearing the Baron’s conversation with Rufus. The Baron states that his suspicions have been confirmed and Angelina must be executed; Rufus  tells him to wait. Shaken by these comments, Angelina puts her faith in Bridget, who sacrifices herself to save Angelina. 

Returning to the Woodfields, the narrator reveals that the female apparition is actually a woman known as Kate of the Ruins who is friends with the mysterious stranger and smuggler, Hugh Clifford, or Angelina’s mysterious stranger. After Kate seeks out Arthur, Hugh reveals his plans to rescue her; Bridget aids them. Kate speaks to Angelina, warning her against reciprocating the flirtatious nature of her relationship with Hugh. Later that night, Angelina wakes to see yet another apparition giving her a kiss on the cheek, which Kate attributes to her imagination. However, Bridget had mentioned that Kate of the Ruins was in touch with the supernatural and had bewitched the grounds of St. Mark’s Abbey. 

The next day Angelina and her uncle return home, only to hear a knock on the door and find Hugh, wounded. The Woodfields take care of him and Laura senses the romantic tension between Angelina and Hugh. Despite Kate’s warning, the affections between the pair only intensify until Arthur catches them during a rendezvous. Arthur reprimands them both and is backed up by the sudden appearance of Kate, who reminds them of the conversations she had with each of them. Their forced separation leads to despair for all parties involved. Angelina’s aunt and cousin question Arthur’s decision; he responds ambiguously, expressing empathy yet stating that the pair cannot be. Kate makes Angelina promise not to become involved with Hugh, revealing that she is speaking on behalf of Angelina’s deceased mother. The sight of her mother baffles her as it is the same apparition who kissed her on the cheek earlier. Angelina’s depressive state convinces Arthur to send Angelina to stay with Mrs. Montmorency, a distant relative whose daughter, Charlotte, is around the same age as Angelina. 

This image shows Angelina’s surprise in observing the apparition of her mother. This is the beginning of the seventeenth part of this serially published novel. Small woodblock images are placed at the beginning of each part as incentive to buy and read it.

A few months later, Angelina looks out the window to see that Hugh has found her. The pair argue about their fate due to his persistence in finding her, but they are interrupted by ruffians who kidnap them. Ruthven takes Angelina to an underground dungeon in which she hears the moans of someone suffering; the Baron shows her that it is Bridget and she passes out. When Angelina comes to in a nice room, the Baron enters, proceeding to profess his love for her but is steadily refused; he attempts to bribe her with Hugh’s freedom and refrains from kissing her when he looks upon the painting behind her in fear. Angelina is reunited with Bridget, who has healed and is to be contained with her. Bridget goes on to tell her story, which is very similar to Angelina’s; however, in this case, it was Bridget’s parents who forbid their relationship, believing the façade that Rufus showed them. She married Rufus against her will, after which they eventually ended up at the old Grey Tower. It was then that Rufus left, returning with Angelina in tow. When it was discovered that Bridget helped Angelina escape, she is tortured and nearly dies of starvation. Bridget then discloses information about Ophelia de Morton, the woman in the portrait, whom she says that Angelina resembles. She speaks of the mysterious death of Ophelia’s husband, Baron Edward de Morton. Shortly after, the baroness married Edward’s brother since she was carrying his child. The baroness, referred to as the “Lady of White,” was brought to the old Grey Tower, where she bore a stillborn child, although there is said to be some doubt about its fate. It is said that this Lady’s musical talents, once heard in the tower, can still be heard from the ruins of St. Mark’s Abbey. After this bonding experience, Bridget and Angelina are forced onto a boat.

Meanwhile, Ms. Montmorency and Charlotte look for Angelina and write to Mr. Woodfield about her disappearance after they find blood near her miniature of Hugh. Mr. Woodfield persists on seeing the baroness Orillia, Baron de Morton’s wife, to demand the Baron’s location, explaining the situation to her. She is flustered as he catches her in the middle of an affair and is uncompromising as she thinks that Angelina is replacing her in the eyes of her husband. Mr. Woodfield responds by hinting at having more noble blood than she does. The baroness feels vengeful towards Angelina and sends for the Marquis Florendos, whom she has grown fond of, so he can assassinate them. 

Mr. Woodfield leaves knowing he must get justice for both himself and the baroness to protect his niece. He becomes suspicious of the help from Kate of the Ruins, but she changes his mind in revealing her knowledge of his true identity, Sir Eustace Arlingham, and produces a treasure which he had left in the ruins of the Abbey years ago. The pair proceed to talk about his long-deceased sister Emmeline, who she reveals herself to be. She admits to him that Angelina is not her child and that Angelina’s mother, baroness Matilda de Morton, is alive. Furthermore, she states that Hugh is her child but he has yet to find out. Emmeline explains that her and Matilda have been watching over Angelina and assures him of her own innocence. He believes her and follows her to the vaults in which Matilda has been living.

Returning to Hugh’s circumstances, he is being held captive and losing hope for his lover, Angelina. He is saved by Winston, a former crew member of his, who is sent to attend to him. The pair leave together, explaining the reasoning behind Bridget and Angelina’s sudden leave from the old Grey Tower.

The ship carrying Bridget and Angelina wrecks, and the pair miraculously end up at the fisherman’s hut where Hugh and Winston are taking shelter. They all return home the day after Emmeline’s confession, but before their lineage can be exposed, the baroness Matilda enters, giving in to Angelina’s cries for her mother.

The narrator goes on to tell the story of the family Arlingham, which was of wealthy and noble descent. Lady Emmelina and Sir Eustace are the children of Sir Edward Arlighman and the baroness Arlingham. The four of them lived in a castle with their cousin, the orphan child of the baroness’ sister. After the sudden death of the baroness, Sir Edward passed away, leaving Eustace in charge of himself, his sister, and their cousin. Eustace and Matilda both found lovers who got along with one another as well as Emmeline. One day, the five of them witness a shipwreck which leads to their meeting of Sir Vincent Rosenford and his two companions. Upon seeing Vincent, Eustace’s wife shudders at him and begins to go mad. Sir Vincent and one of his companions, Lord Dalton, make frequent visits, and Lord Dalton eventually asks for Emmeline’s hand. Eustace urges her to marry him and she eventually gives in. However, after a short period, she elopes with Sir Vincent. As a result, Eustace’s wife gets deathly sick but has one last period of reason in which she admits that Sir Vincent was her first love and that they had an affair after his repeated visits and persistence with her. With this confession, she passes away. Eustace’s bad luck continues as Emmeline’s story is viewed as scandalous, causing him to lose his title in the court. Before he can receive a prison sentence, he escapes on a ship headed to Flanders, where he recreates his identity and eventually remarries. One day, he finds a baby at his door with a note from Emmeline to take care of her child, which she wanted to name Angelina.

Returning to present day, Emmeline apologizes to Eustace and points out that he should not have forced her into marriage. She then explains that her marriage with Lord Dalton became a good one, and that she actually bore his child, contrary to rumors. However, Lord Vincent Rosenford followed her and confessed his love, becoming cynical upon her denial of him. He told her that she should not deny him and proceeded to kidnap her while she is on a walk one evening. Emmeline expresses the anguish she felt as she was forced upon a ship that was then destroyed by a storm. It was not until after this event that she met Captain Clifford, who saved her and her infant son from drowning. Captain Clifford then became a smuggler, but he continued to look after Emmeline’s child. Emmeline recalls that he made a vow to be another parent to the child regardless of circumstance. Emmeline had then attempted to return home only to hear of Eustace’s scandals, which she emphasizes are now irrelevant. Shortly after, Emmeline returned to Captain Clifford and was introduced to his wife, who also takes pity on her. Emmeline also sought out her cousin’s current husband, the Baron de Morton, brother of her prior husband. To her shock, he informed her that the baroness has passed away. Unfortunately, it was upon her return to the Cliffords in which she was kidnapped, this time by Rufus and some ruffians; she was taken to the old Grey Tower. Upon her escape, she returned to the Cliffords to find that his wife has passed away, causing him to return to sea with her child, Hugh. Luckily, having possession of some money allowed Emmeline to return to a place that Captain Clifford had shown her, which was connected to the ruins of an old abbey, which the readers know as St. Mark’s Abbey. To her astonishment, Emmeline finds the baroness Matilda there. Emmeline then stops her narrative there, requesting that the baroness herself iterate the rest of the story. After the baroness refuses, Emmeline continues, telling of the cruel manner in which Matilda’s second husband treated her.

After forcing a secret marriage in the middle of the night, the baron stole her away to the old Grey Tower, in which she bore him a baby girl. Matilda was told that her baby was a stillborn; however, she felt that the baron was somehow responsible not only for the fate of their child, but for the mysterious disappearance of her first husband. After Matilda healed, she sought out her old nurse, explaining the situation to her. She instead found the daughter of her nurse, who was told by her husband of the deliverance of a baby to their neighbors. Matilda ran next door, looked upon the baby, and instantly recognized her as her own. The baroness also recognized a mark of companionship on her daughter’s arm, signifying that it was Bridget’s parents who saved baby Angelina. Matilda resolved then to live in the abbey, following the same line of thought as Emmeline in seeking shelter in the supposedly haunted place. In this way, Matilda and Emmeline were reunited. Captain Clifford returned, informing Matilda that her child was being attended to by a nearby nurse. The women related to him their plan of being covert in order to deliver retribution. Emmeline then relates that it was her who delivered the baby to Eustace so that he would care for the child. Emmeline recalls having been worried about the locket which she had left with Angelina; Eustace recalls his curiosity about it initially. 

The storyline ends here as Emmeline concludes by coming back to her warnings to Eustace, Hugh, and Angelina, which can be understood as prevented due to its ill-timing as this was before the true nature of their births were revealed. The book finishes with a conclusion that doles out poetic justice. Sir Eustace Arlingham seeks justice via the court for himself, his sister, and their cousin. The king pities them and returns to them their respective riches and titles, having heard some news of the baron’s death along with his confessions of treason. Emmeline is reunited with her husband, and Hugh with his true parents. Orillia shamefully runs off with the Marquis Florendos after hearing word of her husband’s death. Angelina and Hugh get married and are surprised when they are approached by Bridget, who was miraculously cured. These three live together in their castle near the Woodfields and the Daltons. Angelina’s cousin, Laura, finds a gentleman whom she marries. Lady de Morton revives the abbey and the narrator explains the use of Emmeline’s scare tactics, such as the chest of bones, to ward of any early discovery of the pair’s plot. The author ends with “Thus, then, do we end ‘This round unvarnished tale’”—referring to the cyclic tropes of the novel and of life in general (236).


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

“Preface” to Angelina; or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days by Thomas Prest. London, Edward Lloyd, 1841 via Google Books.<>

Prest, Thomas. Angelina; or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days. London, Edward Lloyd, 1841.

“Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service,

Researcher: Samara Rubenstein

Rose Sommerville

Rose Sommerville

Rose Sommerville: Or, a Husbands Mystery and a Wifes Devotion. A Romance

Author: Ellen T.
Publisher: Edward Lloyd
Publication Year: 1846
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 21.5 cm x 14 cm
Pages: 175 
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.T24 Ro 1847

A tale of love, murder, and regret, this 1846 novel by Ellen T. revolves around an innocent, beautiful girl marrying a man who has a very dark past.

Material History

The exterior of Rose Sommerville is very simple yet classic, with a dark brown leather binding and a light brown cloth cover. There are no decorations or words on the cover—the title and author can be found on the binding, indented into the leather and painted over with gold. On the edges of the pages of the book, there are speckled red flecks of paint as an added decorative element. This novel is 21.5 cm by 14 cm and 172 pages long. The pages themselves are fairly thin and frail, showing a large amount of yellowing and wear. The book reveals its true age through the pages themselves, as the binding and cover does not show much wear. 

This page shows pencil markings left by a previous owner

Upon opening the novel, there are two blank pages and then a title page, which features the full title of the book, Rose Sommerville; or A Husbands Mystery and A Wifes Devotion, the author, and some additional information about the novel. The author’s name is not fully spelled out, but instead has an abbreviated last name, written as “Ellen T.” Underneath her name in smaller font it says, “Authoress of …” with a list of her other prominent works. On the bottom of the title page is the publishing information: this novel was printed and published in London by E. Lloyd: 12, Salisbury Square, Fleet-street in 1847. The novel begins with a brief preface written by someone other than the author, which reveals that this text was released weekly in separate parts and is now being bound together. This is evident because at the bottom of the first page there is a “No. 1” written, revealing that this begins the first part. At the bottom of the 9th page there is a No. 2, showing that this begins the second part. The novel has 22 parts in total. In pencil on the first page of the preface, “1847” is written, and these pencil notes are also found on the last page of the novel. 

The first chapter begins with an illustration in all black ink that looks like a line drawing. This illustration shows a very beautiful woman kissing a man, and another man behind the couple looking upset and holding a dagger. After this illustration, the novel begins. These black ink illustrations are dispersed throughout the novel, either in the middle of text or on their own page. No captions accompany the illustrations, however the illustrations typically depict the event that is occurring on the page. The artist of these illustrations is not named anywhere in the novel. The text in this novel is written in a very small font and closely set together; there is very little white space per page. The wear of the novel can be seen in the text, as many sections are difficult to read due to fading of the ink or stains on the page. 

On the last page of the novel, there is writing in pencil that looks like a signature. Upon close examination, the signature seems to say “Mr. Morlen.” Also on this page there is a “10” written in pencil after the last line and at the top of this page the numbers “9876” and “1/2 64” are written. These markings were most likely left by a former owner of this novel.

Textual History

Rose Sommerville was published in sections in the newspaper The People’s Periodical and Family Library from October 10, 1846 to October 2, 1847. It was published by Edward Lloyd in London, England. Edward Lloyd had a myriad of periodicals that he published during this time such as The Daily Chronicle and Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper—he was one of the nineteenth century’s leading newspaper proprietors of cheap fiction available to the masses (“Léger-St-Jean). The cheap works of fiction that he published were often called “penny bloods.” Lloyd brought literature to the masses, catering to the new market of people who were now literate but not wealthy. 

The title page of Rose Sommerville, which includes a pencil marking at the bottom with the publication date

Rose Sommerville begins with a “Preface” written by an unknown author who speaks on behalf of Ellen T., thanking the readers for reading her publications week after week and formally saying goodbye to them, for now. The preface also gives a small summary of what the book is going to entail, describing briefly the main character, Rose, and the fact that she will go through many struggles. The first chapter begins with a statement in the first person which functions as a narratorial interjection, using “I,” but the storytelling voice is primarily in the third-person omniscient throughout the novel. After the end of the plot, there is a horizontal black line and then a paragraph in which the speaker, using the first-person plural pronoun “we,” thanks the readers again for reading, and announces that this is the end of the novel. 

There is a notice for Rose Somerville found in the July 23, 1853, issue of Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art written by George W. M. Reynolds that states that the New York booksellers Stringer and Townsend have printed and published Rose Sommerville; Or, A Husband’s Mystery and credited Reynolds to be the author. Reynolds claims that he never wrote this text and would like to take all legal action against these publishers to punish them for this claim (416). He does not, however, attribute the work to its rightful author, Ellen T., for it seems as though he does not know the true author. 

There are many different titles of Rose Sommerville: some copies are simply titled Rose Sommerville, while others are titled Rose Sommerville; Or, A Husband’s Mystery, Rose Sommerville: or, A Husband’s Mystery and A Wife’s Devotion: A Romance, and Rose Sommerville: or, the Double Crime (Summers 488). Ellen T. also authored Ravensdale: A Romance, which was published in 1847 by G. Purkess, but printed by Edward Lloyd. Her other known works of fiction are Eardley Hall: A Tale, which was published in 1850 by Edward Lloyd, and Emily Percy: or, The Heiress of Sackville: A Romance, which was published by G. Purkess in 1845. She also published two poems in The People’s Periodical and Family Library: “Lines on a Birthday” and “To Christmas.” The abbreviation of her last name most likely made it difficult to keep a good documentation of her works. 

One can purchase a paperback copy of Rose Sommerville online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble—these copies were published by Gale and The British Library. There are also numerous digital copies found on the internet of this novel, which are all images of paperbacks digitized into a PDF form. There are also dozens of libraries worldwide that own this novel with varying years of publication. 

Narrative Point of View

Rose Sommerville is narrated by a third-person, omniscient narrator who never appears in the text. The narrator gives insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the story, and often jumps back and forth between settings to show what multiple characters are doing at once. The narrator also occasionally interrupts the text and uses the pronouns “I” and “we,” either to make a comment or act as though the narrator personally knows these characters. So even though the narrator is not a character in the story, they are able to use the “I” pronoun to insert their own opinions. The narrator focuses on both plot and feelings of the characters, often taking breaks from long sections of dialogue to discuss the characters’ inner thoughts and feelings about the subject. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

Albert meant to be, and judged he was, acting kindly towards Rose; but, with all his knowledge, he knew little of a woman’s heart, and her fond devotion to one she loves. His lot deemed a dull and gloomy one; his thoughts and feelings were all tinged by a sombre hue, and unfit, he thought, to be shared by such a young and light-hearted girl as Rose. (26)

Sample Passage of a Narratorial Interjection:

Rose Sommerville, sweet, fairy, bright-eyed Rose Sommerville—I think I see her still tripping across the lawn with the light buoyant step of early youth—earth surely never held a fairer creature than Rose; the sweet smile that played around her dimpled mouth possessed all the soft beauty of infancy, her light auburn tresses waved luxuriantly around her fait and sunny brow, and for figure never did I see a more sweet and graceful form. (1)

Through the use of the third-person omniscient narration, the narrator is able to bring more depth and personality into each character—the reader is able not only to see their actions, but also to witness their thoughts behind those actions. Through this, the reader is able to fully understand many characters in the novel, because so many aspects of their interiority and motivations are revealed through their thoughts. The fact that this narration gives the narrator the ability to switch quickly from setting to setting gives the reader a breadth of knowledge about what each character is doing at once, instead of being confined to one character and their surroundings. The added use of the first-person interjections dispersed throughout the novel also brings more insight into what the narrator thinks about specific characters, especially Rose, as shown through the passage above. The insertion of the narrator’s opinions tells the reader how to feel about some characters and situations, and the reader can either agree or disagree. For example, the narrator thinks very highly of Rose, whether or not the reader feels accordingly.


Rose Sommerville is breathtakingly beautiful. She is of humble birth, and she possesses such gentleness and innocence that it is as if she has never known sorrow in her life. In the summer, her family would take people into their house to live with them temporarily. This year, their visitor is Albert Moreland: a very solemn, tall, and melancholy man. Rose, contrary to the fact that he is her exact opposite in demeanor, immediately fell in love with him. At the end of the summer, Albert asks her father for her hand in marriage and he obliges. Even though they are both deeply in love with each other, Albert looks extremely nervous at the wedding. 

The beginning of the first chapter of the novel, as well as an illustration of what seems to be Florence and Charles kissing and Albert holding a knife behind them

Rose soon meets Albert’s sister, Marian, and they form a deep friendship. In the weeks after their marriage, Rose notices that Albert is acting increasingly strange—even repeatedly shouting the name “Florence” in his sleep. Rose decides to ask Marian who Florence is, for she worries that Albert is cheating on her. Marian begrudgingly relays the story to soothe Rose’s worries. Albert and Marian had a stepbrother who they both had a very close relationship with and loved deeply. Albert and Charles decided one summer that they wanted to travel through Europe together. While they were in Italy, they both fell in love with the same woman, who was in a relationship with both of them, unbeknownst to the other. According to Marian, Charles walked in on Albert and Florence together and, in a fit of rage, stabbed Florence. Marian received the details of this story through a letter. However, upon asking Edward, Marian’s husband, about the event, Edward claims that he read the same letter and it was actually Albert who stabbed Florence, not Charles. Rose is extremely distressed and does not know what to believe. 

Edward and Rose start forming a stronger and stronger friendship as the next few days go by—it seems as though Edward has feelings for Rose. Rose accompanies Marian, Edward, and Edward’s best friend, Henry Melville, to the opera. Henry immediately tells Edward how beautiful he finds Rose, and that angers Edward because he claims it is disrespectful to his brother-in-law to say such things about his wife. Rose likes Henry very much, and they form a friendship, amicably conversing for most of the ball the following night. Edward decides that Rose must know Henry’s true intentions, from Edward’s point of view, so he tells Rose that Henry told Edward he was in love with Rose and wanted to be with her. This surprises Rose but causes her to cooly distance herself from Henry. Henry immediately notices this and confronts Edward about it—Edward defends his actions and tells him to stay away from Rose. This interaction causes Henry and Edward to have a rivalry. 

Albert has been keeping to himself as Rose goes on all of these social events, even though Rose would much rather him with her. He has been acting more melancholy and paranoid than usual, and it is affecting Rose negatively. Albert notices this and suggests that Rose visit her family in the country for a few weeks. Around this time, Rose realizes she is pregnant with Albert’s child. Rose obliges to Albert’s wishes and returns to her home in the country. When she arrives, she learns that her brother, Henry, is to marry her childhood friend, Agnes. 

 Meanwhile, Marian has been conspiring to figure out where Charles is, and she has found out: he is still in Italy. She also notices Albert sending a mystery letter to Italy but says nothing of it. While Rose is gone, Marian speaks to Lucy, Henry Melville’s sweet sister, about how she suspects that Rose is in love with Edward. Lucy denies the idea, but Marian is very mad and wants to expose her. Rose writes to Edward, sending him back the document detailing Florence and her death because she did not want to read it. Her letter arrives when Marian and Lucy are in the house, and it solidifies Marian’s beliefs.

An illustration of Henry and Marian seeing Rose and Edward kissing

While everyone is at a ball, Albert is alone in his office and very distraught, speaking out loud about regret and death. He feels horrible about something he has done in his past, and regrets marrying Rose because he cannot make her as happy as she deserves. At the ball, Lucy confronts Edward about the contents of the letter and he tells her he cannot reveal any information concerning the letter, which makes her mad. The next day, Henry overhears Fairford, Mortimer, and Edward talking about Rose—specifically the conversation entails Edward boasting about how he is going to win her over and seduce her. Henry is furious and bursts through the door, scolding and threatening Edward. 

Miles away in the country, Rose receives two letters: one from Albert and one from Lucy. The letter from Lucy asks her the contents of the letter she sent Edward which she knows she cannot reveal and the letter from Albert is distanced and slightly cold which makes her very upset. Henry and Agnes get married in a beautiful ceremony, but Mrs. Sommerville is increasingly worried for Rose. Rose returns home and receives a warm welcome from Albert which makes her very happy. Very shortly after she returns, Edward comes over to visit. As they are having a conversation, Edward is overcome with passion and kisses Rose, who is shocked and pulls away, but not before Henry and Marian come through the door and see them. Marian immediately runs and tells Albert, who is extremely sad and angered. Rose comes in to talk to Albert and explain her innocence but no one believes her. Albert says that Rose must leave at once and if she refuses to leave then he will leave and never come back—she has one day to come to her decision. Albert and Marian retreat to a different room and weep together. Rose becomes hysterical, screaming that she is innocent and weeping. She soon becomes extremely ill, and they fear that she is in danger of dying. Lucy stays by her bed the whole night and Rose gives birth to a stillborn son. 

An illustration showing Rose sick in bed after falling ill of grief when Albert told her to leave in anger.

Henry is very angry at Edward’s actions and proposes a duel which he accepts. The duel takes place in a secluded valley, where the two men who were once best friends fires guns at each other. Edward receives a fatal wound and Henry receives only a gunshot to the arm. Marian receives news that Edward has been shot and immediately rushes to him. On his death bed, Edward tells Marian the true story of what happened between him and Rose, proving her innocence. Marian then tells everyone of Rose’s innocence. Soon Rose awakens in a much better state, and Albert comes in to express his apologies—he stays by her side for the next few days, vowing never to separate from her again. 

Three years have now passed, and Marian has married Fairford, Agnes and Henry have two children, and Lucy has married Mortimer. Rose is a changed woman, having taken on many of Albert’s somber traits—her cheerful demeanor and endearing innocence are gone. Rose and Albert decide to travel to Naples, where they stay in the house of Donna Rosalina, an old friend of Albert’s. Her young nephew, Charles, is very sweet and forms a strong friendship with Rose throughout their time in Naples. Very quickly, Albert’s health begins declining. As he is about to die, Albert tells Charles that he is his father and Florence is his mother; they both weep and embrace. Soon after, Albert says his tearful goodbye to Rose and dies. Donna Rosalina then tells the true story of Albert and Florence to Rose and Charles: Albert was the one who walked in on Florence and Charles together and tried to kill Florence, but Charles dove to protect her and Albert accidentally killed Charles. This event changed Albert forever, as he has just killed his kin and his best friend. After Albert’s death, Rose’s health begins to decline more and more, and she soon peacefully dies with her one wish: to be reunited with Albert. Everyone at home is deeply upset at the news of Rose and Albert’s death, but they soon move on and all lived very happy lives. 


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

Ellen T.. Rose Sommerville: or, A husband’s Mystery and a Wife’s Devotion: A Romance. London, Edward Lloyd, 1847.

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

Léger-St-Jean, Marie. Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837–1860. [29 June 2019]. Faculty of English, Cambridge.

Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art [London], Vol. 10, Iss. 263, (Jul 23, 1853): 416.

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

Researcher: Madeleine Berrigan



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.


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. 


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.

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

Mary, the Primrose Girl

Mary, the Primrose Girl

Mary, the Primrose Girl: Or, the Heir of Stanmore. A Romance

Author: [Miss Wakefield]
Publisher: E. Lloyd
Publication Year: 1847
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 13.4cm x 21cm
Pages: 404
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .M355 1847

In this 1847 novel by Miss Wakefield, a wide cast of characters—featuring a brother and sister, a curious stranger, surprise family relations, and love triangles—culminates in happy marriages.

Material History

Title page for Mary, the Primrose Girl

Upon first examination of this novel, the cover is leather bound and in good condition with the title Mary, the Primrose Girl imprinted on the spine. The title page has the entire title, Mary, the Primrose Girl: Or, the Heir of Stanmore. A Romance, which also appears on the first page of chapter one. There is no explicitly mentioned author anywhere in the text; however, the preface indicates that the author was female and also gives some slight insight to the character and themes of the novel.

There is unidentifiable damage around the edges of the pages that looks like slight water or mold damage, but the center of the page where the text is has no damage at all. The paper is on the thicker side and has a brittle texture. The pages are very stiff and hard to open due to the lack of attention from readers. The outside edges of the pages that are seen from a side view are covered in tiny red dots. Randomly throughout the novel, there are sections of pages that do not have any of the water damage and mold around the edges of the text, which is intriguing and does not have any real explanation.

Also incorporated throughout the novel are pictures without color. They are placed throughout the novel and do not have any specific pattern as far as their placement. They appear to be images from wood art that are made and then transferred to the pages of the novel.

In this particular edition of the novel, the font is very small with extremely tiny spacing between lines. The margins are also relatively small and the title Mary, the Primrose Girl appears on the top of the left pages while Heir of Stanmore appears on the right pages. At the beginning of each chapter, the author includes an epigraph from various sources to set up the following chapter.

Textual History

The copy of Mary, the Primrose Girl held by the Sadleir-Black Collection does not list an author. Yet, the author of the novel is actually as Miss Wakefield. Miss Wakefield is not very prominent in the world of Gothic literature and only has this one novel published. There have also been no further editions of the novel and there is no current knowledge of any translated versions.

Preface to Mary, the Primrose Girl

There is a fairly large time gap between the novel’s known publications: 1837, 1847, and 1878. The first editions that were published in 1837 were produced in London by William Emans. Another edition was printed and published by E. Lloyd in 1847; a copy of this edition is held by the UVA Sadleir-Black Collection. The 1847 printing of the novel included a preface dating to that same year which may have been absent in earlier and later editions. E. Lloyd was one of many who sold “penny bloods” or “penny dreadfuls” starting in the mid-1800s, including Mary, the Primrose Girl. He was so influential in the publication industry of the time that Edward Lloyd is known as “the father of the cheap press” (Humpherys). The last edition, published in 1878, was printed in Wakefield, England by William Nicholson and Sons, as well as in London by Simpkin, Marshall and Co. Integral figures in the nineteenth-century book trade, Simpkin and Marshall capitalized on the production and release of quick and cheap literature to the masses of England (Wolfreys). These physical copies are very rare and are not all accounted for. However, there are electronic versions of the novel online through various digitizations of the pages.

The novel lacks much fame, which is evident through the very small amount of information available. The “penny dreadfuls” were very much come and go as far as production and quality of content due to their mass-produced commercialization. As a result, there is also an absence of scholarly research and analysis of this specific work. There have been no modern printings of the novel and the lack of old copies to document it is another contributor to the lack of knowledge on the Mary, the Primrose girl and Miss Wakefield.

Narrative Point of View

Mary, the Primrose Girl is narrated in third person omniscient by an outside narrator who is not a character in the novel. This omniscient narrator is able to acknowledge and explain the emotions of characters and some of their thoughts. The narrator also acts as an inside source for the plot by foreshadowing and offering some information to the reader that is not known or shared with the characters of the novel.

Sample Passage:

Arthur was not a little pleased, on receiving the letter, to discover the hand writing of his beloved sister; and though under an envelope to his friend he made no hesitation in at once breaking the seal, and found the letter itself directed to him. After making many kind inquiries relative to his friends in Naples, the person who was in haste to depart, could only wait while Arthur penned a few hasty lines to his deliverer, which he requested him to deliver on his return to Naples, and receiving a recompence from Lord Deerham he withdrew. (193)

This style of narration, as exhibited in the selected passage, gives insight to the characters’ minds, which is something that is not available in first-person narration. Third-person omniscient point of view operates in the text as a way to access all of the characters in the novel. This is also necessary in order to create the gothic-style tension that is present throughout Mary, the Primrose Girl, because the narrator knows more than the characters.The anonymity of the narrator in the novel not only gives freedom to shift between overlapping plot lines and thus creates the web of relations between the characters, but in some cases this also generates information that is only known by the readers and not the characters.While writing in this manner eliminates the specific focus on one character’s view, it also invites the reader to rely on the narrator’s all-knowing authority. 


The opening of Chapter One

This story contains many characters introduced quickly, with interlocking storylines. The story opens with the exploration of a closed castle by brother and sister Arthur and Mary. Introduced soon after this is Sir Henry Mordaunt, who is very honorable but lacks emotions, and his wife Lady Mordaunt, who is the complete opposite. Lord Rushbrooke, son of one of the former lords of the estate, flees to France after his father dies and finds Caroline Fitzwilliam. Caroline and Gregory have a strong bond and when his own health fails him and must return to France, Caroline is heartbroken and hopes he does not die. The son of Lord and Lady Mordaunt, Annesley, comes of age and really wants to meet Mary and even begins to love her. Annesley has high hopes that they will be perfect together after seeing her at the Priory fair. The Mordaunts meet with Lord Chalmers, whose daughter Annesley’s parents have paired him up with despite his urges that he is in love with Mary. Lord Mordaunt finds out about Annesley’s romantic interest in Mary and becomes furious, deciding that no one will come near the castle and he will not allow the romance to develop. He insists that Annesley will marry Lady Amelia Chalmers, or at least someone with noble birth and reputation.

Fanny dies and the children are taken in by the Rushbrookes (Caroline Fitzwilliam and Lord Rushbrooke) and the children are left with the entire estate. While visiting different estates, Caroline is informed by her husband that both of their adopted children, who they left at home while they travelled, have died. Lady Rushbrooke returns home early from their travels because she is so heartbroken. Later, she turns to living with a friend on her estate where she bonds with the daughter of Mr. St. Omer, Emma, and Lord Rushbrooke decides to stay a majority of the year in London away from his wife.

Annesley goes to stay at the Chalmers’ estate where he meets Lady Amelia. Annesley exhibits an extreme lack of energy. To this negativity, Amelia allows for him to leave since he is not feeling well and Annesley does not waste any time to go to bed. Days after, Annesley struggles with feeling down after losing in cards. He hates being in debt and cannot convince anyone that he is well, especially his servant Robert and close friend Travers. While at the Chalmers estate, Annesley struggles with his orders to marry Lady Amelia and the possibility of him uniting with Mary. Later, Mary and her father come to the estate while passing through the nearby area. A man named Lord Deerham comes to St. Omer estate. Once there, he and Lady Rushbrooke get reacquainted, as they were once old friends.

Emma has grown older and wishes to explore the hall where no one has gone for many years because of Lady Rushbrooke’s fragility. Emma, her friend, Mr. St. Omer, and Lord Deerham venture to the eerie hall and Lady Rushbrooke has Emma look for the letters between her and her late brother. One of the servants, Susan, was very close with the former lord and lady of the hall so she gives them a tour and helps them settle in. She also warns them of the danger and mysteriousness of the building. The group stays at the hall and begins to feel on edge with the lack of attention the building has received. Then, mysterious events occur which leaves the entire group confused. Stumbling upon a room hidden behind a tapestry, Emma explores it for a way out because the main door is mysteriously locked.

In additions to illustrations throughout the novel, chapters frequently begin with epigraphs

Annesley lends Travers, a travelling companion, money so that he may be able to afford property near his residence. Mary and Annesley discuss how Lady Mordaunt has been so helpful to her, which increases Annesley’s confusion of which path to take. After showing Mary around London, Annesley has to say goodbye with the possibility of never seeing her again, but not until after spending the morning of her departure together.  

Meanwhile, Emma is still exploring the room and follows a staircase down to the entrance to the forest. She follows the bank of a river where she meets a young cottager who offers her help and whom she seems intrigued by on many levels. Emma then finds out that the boy’s name is Arthur (who happens to be the brother of Mary) and he lives with his sister and widowed mother in a cabin in the forest. Arthur uses the closed hall to study in the library and explore. Not aware of Susan and Barnard living there, Arthur often is noisy and less cautious, which explains the fear of ghosts haunting the hall. After meeting everyone in the hall, Lord Deerham works to get Arthur out of his current condition and to join them. Arthur’s mother, Hannah, who is extremely distressed and bruised, refuses to let her son go and will not tell Lord Deerham why.

Annesley continues to struggle with following his father’s desire for him to marry Amelia and his heart’s desire for him to be with Mary. Mary sends him a letter telling him that even though he wishes they could be together, she knows that there are too many obstacles and that they should just try and find happiness elsewhere.

Emma and Arthur bond in the abandoned hall and Miss Sommerville, Emma’s friend, and Henry, Lord Deerham’s nephew, hit it off. However, Lord Deerham insists that Emma and Henry get together. Emma refuses and declares that she will only marry someone of her choosing. Emma and Arthur share their feelings with each other and promise to stay in touch after Emma leaves the hall. Mary is happy for her brother but cannot help but feel down after everything between her and Annesley.

Annesley learns that Mary, her brother, and Henry (whom Annesley does not know), have moved to London and he returns home to his Lord and Lady Mordaunt still frowning upon the couple’s strengthening bond. Even though Lady Mordaunt is rather fond of Mary, she could never allow Annesley to marry her. Annesley goes to London to represent his father after Parliament is dismissed which gives him hope of seeing Mary. He also stops by to see the property that Travers bought with the money Annesley lent him, but no such place exists.

After the group returns back to London from the hall, Emma gives Lady Rushbrooke the letters she had requested for her to find in the hall. Lady Rushbrooke also learns that Lord Rushbrooke will return in two days to visit her after not being together for many months. When he returns, he goes straight to Lady Rushbrooke’s room and is there for awhile. Emma walks in with Lady Rushbrooke pale and motionless with Lord Rushbrooke urging Emma to get help. The doctor comes and cannot find anything to wake her up. Emma and her mother stay by Lady Rushbrooke’s side to help nurse her back to health.

While in London, Annesley meets a stranger who he convinces to let him stay with. Here, he reads a brief summary of her life. Through the story and the landlady, Annesley learns of Travers’ whereabouts and that he should not be trusted. He also learns that Mary is to be married to Sir William Greaves of Audley Park. He misreads the newspaper and thinks that the ceremony is over when it is still in the future. Lord Rushbrooke’s health is declining and must go to surgery. Annesley comes and learns that his father has lied to him about Mary in the newspaper article and that he told her mother to take her to London where he would send money as long as they stayed away.

Arthur travels to London in search of his mother and sister because he has not heard from either of them in quite some time. He meets Sir Annesley and the latter informs Arthur of his love for Mary. Arthur leaves Annesley and returns to the old hall on the way to Devonshire. He learns that Barnard has died and Lady Rushbrooke is the heir to the hall. The St. Omer and Sommerville parties were acquainted by Emma and Henry while Arthur travelled to the village where his mother and sister were said to be. The village is devastated but he finds a woman who has some insight as to where the two are. The woman isn’t of much help so Arthur is on his way again.

An illustration in which Emma, harboring her secret love for Arthur, feels ill

Arthur meets an old friend of Lord Deerham, Count Romont, who happens to be the brother of the late Lord Mordaunt and uncle of Sir Annesley. The count sets off to visit his nephew. Lord Deerham sends Henry a letter announcing their return and the joining of Count Romont, or Lord Stanmore. Arthur informs Annesley that he will be returning, which brings joy to Annesley. There is also a stranger that is seen around town and has asked a lot of people where to find Arthur, which concerns Annesley. After arriving, Arthur and Emma visit Lady Rushbrooke, who continues to deteriorate after her husband’s death. The stranger had visited her, questioning her about her late husband.

The stranger now arrives to speak with Sir Annesley and informs him and his mother that the Stanmore estate is not owned by a Stanmore. He reveals himself to be Lord Mordaunt’s older brother, Lord Stanmore, and Annesley and Lady Rushbrooke welcome him happily.

Arthur’s mother surprises him and warns him of someone that was looking to bring destruction upon their family. Mary was left in France because their mother felt it best, but his mother promises that Arthur and Mary will be reunited soon. Later, Arthur’s mother informs him that he and Mary were the infant relatives that the Rushbrookes took in. Lord Rushbrooke ordered her to take them and raise them while he lied to his wife saying that the babies had died. So, this actually makes Mary and Arthur a part of the Fitzwilliam family. Lady Rushbrooke learns of the truth behind the supposed death of the infant relatives from a letter from Lord Rushbrooke, who is now dead. Arthur reunites with Mary in France and he hears of the news, returns to the hall. Arthur and Emma marry, and Mary and Annesley, the new Lord Stanmore, are finally united in wedlock. They, and the rest of the remaining people, lived happily at Stanmore.


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

Wakefield, Miss. Mary, the Primrose Girl: Or, the Heir of Stanmore. A Romance. London, E. Lloyd, 1847.

Wolfreys, Julian. “Simpkin and Marshall; Simpkin, Marshall and Company; Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Company Ltd.; Simpkin, Marshall (1941) Ltd.” The British Literary Book Trade, 1700–1820, edited by James K. Bracken and Joel Silver. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 154. Detroit, Michigan, Gale, 1995. Literature Resource Center.

Researcher: Matthew Lowry

The Royal Twins

The Royal Twins

The Royal Twins: Or, The Sisters of Mystery

Author: Thomas Peckett Prest
Publisher: G. Purkess
Publication Year: 1848
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 14cm x 21.5cm
Pages: 148
University of Virginia Library Call Number, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .P74 Ro 1848

This 1848 Thomas Peckett Prest novel tells the tale of twin girls who endure kidnapping, fire, and secrecy, all as a result of the 1772 Royal Marriage Act.

Material History

The Royal Twins; Or, The Sisters of Mystery is a gothic novel by Thomas Peckett Prest. The title appears regularly throughout this particular book in various forms. Embossed in gold down the spine of the tightly-bound, brown leather cover, the title, shortened to The Royal Twins, is also printed at the top of each page in the novel, including the pages of illustration. There are two separate title pages: one with the full title centered against an otherwise blank page and one accompanied by a full-page black and white illustration that depicts a scene from the beginning of the story.

One of the two title pages for The Royal Twins features a large illustration

Originally, the author’s name was not printed anywhere in the book; there was only indirect indication of the author—mentions of his previous works are printed in small letters underneath the book title on the two title pages. These other works include Ela the Outcast, The Smuggler King, and The Old House of West Street, suggesting a well-published author. The author’s name that appears in the book now on a blue sticker as “Thomas P. Prest” has been pasted on the first title page and on the spine of the book, most likely after the book’s publication.

At first glance, this particular volume seems extremely well-kept and well-preserved. The novel, being only 148 pages in length, makes for an overall slim and neat book. Measuring from the cover, the book is 14 cm wide and 21.5 cm tall. The two-toned leather cover is smooth and unworn, the corners only showing the slightest bit of wear and tear. Upon opening it, the binding still feels tight, almost as if it were not read much in its past life. There are no marks or stamps of previous ownership in the book. The paper, though yellowed, has not softened much, retaining a brittle sharpness, and its thin quality enables the reader to see through to what is printed on the other side of the page. The only other obvious signs of age are various spots that have arisen from impurities in the paper and chemical reactions to being kept in a humid or damp environment.

An anonymously written preface precedes the story, mentioning that the following text has already been “well-received” by the public. This suggests that this book may not be the story’s first edition or publication, although no other officially documented publications of this story have been found from before 1848. The preface also goes on to include a little bit of background knowledge to events and ideas related to the story, such as the Royal Marriage Act. At the very end, a date and location indicate where and when the book was published: London, April 1848.

The pages contain a simple, squiggly border surrounding the body of text with the title of the novel printed inside the border at the very top. The font is small, neat, and closely set, filling up the interior of the page and leaving little white space. The sixteen chapters are not spatially separated; each picks up right where the last left off. They are numbered in Roman numerals, and while they are not titled, they are accompanied by a succinct, one-line description underneath the chapter number of what plot events occur within each respective chapter. Pages of illustration feature rather frequently throughout the book, about one for every few chapters. Nineteen in total, these inked, black-and-white line drawings go along with story events. Illustrations are numbered at the bottom right-hand corner, and are also accompanied by the full book title, split to border the top and the bottom of the illustration, a layout unlike the other pages that contain only text. Watered down red ink, flecked onto the edges of the pages with a brush, add a decorative touch to an otherwise plain book.

Textual History

Published during the rise of penny dreadfuls, The Royal Twins was only one of the many such novels that prolific British penny periodical writer Thomas Peckett Prest wrote. Other works include: Ela, the Outcast (1839), The Hebrew Maiden (1840), and The String of Pearls (1846), perhaps more famously known in the form of the later rewritten Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, although to whom the credit for this last work should be given is rather ambiguous and debatable (Smith 26–28).

The author’s name—appearing on the title page here as Thomas P. Prest—was pasted in, most likely after the book’s publication

Ela, the Outcast, in particular, became Prest’s most successful novel, featuring prominently on the classified advertisement sections of nineteenth-century British periodicals, such as Cleave’s Gazette of Variety and The Penny Satirist, that boasted the current popular penny dreadfuls (Cleave’s 4; Penny 4). Prest, who seemed to rather frequently adapt his prose works to the stage, wrote a version of Ela for stage as well, and it was well-performed by The Queen’s Theatre in 1842. Newspapers like The Age and The Satirist; or, the Censor of the Times ran advertisements for showings of this Prest play, describing it as “successful,” “highly interesting,” and “a tale of most thrilling interest” (Age 1; Satirist 41; Cleave’s 4). Prest wrote a few more major plays towards the end of his career: The Miser of Shoreditch, performed by the Standard Theatre in 1854; Lucy Wentworth, a prize-winning play performed by the City of London Theatre in 1857; and “the highly successful romantic drama” The Idiot Boy, performed by City of London Theatre in 1858 (James and Smith; Northampton Mercury; The Era).

Prest’s talents were very widespread; not only did he make a name for himself as a novelist, but also as a songwriter, a performer of his own songs, and a general literary hack for minor independent publishers, most notably Edward Lloyd. The two rose to prominence in the realm of ephemera together. Prest, originally working as Lloyd’s factotum, started writing satirical penny weekly serial versions of Charles Dickens’s works and later branched out into original fictional works that Lloyd edited and published as quickly as possible (James and Smith). In fact, an article on the editor’s publishing legacy written in the 1904 edition of The New York Times Book Review describes Lloyd as “sinning in good company” with Prest (Williams 566). This established Lloyd as a popular publisher of this sort of cheap fiction, and, in turn, established penny dreadfuls as a genre that held massive potential, tapping into the rapidly expanding reading population and love of sensational stories.

This New York Times article, actually a reader’s submission to publication, features an abundance of glowing praise for the Lloyd publishing house, speaking to the high esteem and approval that the British masses had for the man and his purpose. Edward Lloyd became known as “the father of the cheap press” and was among the first to devise new techniques of printing and advertising to achieve his success in production and distribution of these publications (Humpherys). His advertisements for new titles were accompanied by strings of other recent and popular works as assurance of known quality for the reader—a technique seen within this particular copy of The Royal Twins as well. He issued advertisements for his serial and book publications in his own newspapers as well. The Penny Sunday Times and its Companion contained much of his own fiction, and Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper listed the contents of his fictional periodicals, announced new titles, and advertised important reprints in special columns of their own. Additionally, Lloyd would include a complete list of current Lloyd publications that was compiled anew every six months, serving years later as one of the best resources for bibliographers (Smith 10).

The Sadleir-Black copy of The Royal Twins includes a preface, referencing the Royal Marriages Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1772. The act reveals itself as central to the plot of the novel at the end of the story, when all the revelations regarding the titular twins’ parentage occur. The Royal Marriages Act required the consent of the reigning monarch before any marriage of a descendant of George II could be seen as legitimate. Without consent, any marriage contracted was void. This act was a way to guard the royal family from diminishing their status through unbalanced marriages. It is also precisely the reason that the twins in the book, born of an unapproved and unmatched marriage, had to be raised in secret, separate from their noble parents. In the preface, the unknown author criticizes the act for its cruelty. The act was repealed in 2011.

It is interesting to note that while The Royal Twins dealt with political issues at the time, was popular with the public, according to the text’s preface, and several other works by Prest were recognized enough to be adapted into play versions, there are no reviews, subsequent versions or editions, or further adaptations of this story in particular.

Narrative Point of View

The Royal Twins: Or, The Sisters of Mystery is primarily told in the third person by an omniscient narrator. However, the narrator does address the audience directly throughout the novel as “reader,” and occasionally refers to him or herself using the collective “we.” Because of the narrator’s omniscience, character’s feelings are often stated explicitly for the audience, leaving little room for confusion towards the characters’ emotions in any given scene. Much of the characterization is told rather than shown. Additionally, the narrator gives the reader prior knowledge that the characters themselves do not know yet through use of parentheses. The narrator often precedes the main action of an event with a warning statement that alerts the reader of upcoming plot twists. The narration is at once entertaining and vigorous, even as it is filled with many winding, descriptive sentences. Although wordy at times, the diction is quite standard, reading rather easily.

Sample Passage:

Charlotte, in spite of herself, and notwithstanding she could not understand the feeling found it impossible to conquer a sensation of sadness and regret when Mr. Milford made use of these observation; and she was surprised to find the strong impression on the stranger had made on her even on their first meeting; and she was very dull and less talkative for the rest of the evening than she was accustomed to be; and in spite of all her efforts to the contrary, notwithstanding she really felt vexed with herself, she could not banish the form of the handsome and interesting Henry Stirling from her imagination She could not but also entertain a secret wish that he would fulfill his promise and visit them again shortly. Pure and innocent as it is possible for mortal to be, Charlotte could not for a moment suppose that there was any harm or danger in encouraging these thoughts; but alas, woful [sic] experience was destined to teach her otherwise.

Never was a man more deceptive or dangerous that he who called himself Henry Stirling (for that was not his real name), handsome, accomplished, wealthy, and nobly connected, he possessed the most unbounded power wither for good or evil, and unfortunately his, vices predominated over his good qualities. […] The reason of his assuming the name by which we have introduced him to the reader will be explained in the course of the narrative. (93-94)

The omniscience of the narrator, combined with consistent addressing of the audience in The Royal Twins, serves to create an overall objective and intimate storytelling effect. With the narrator holding the collective knowledge of all the characters thoughts, and directly revealing this insider knowledge, the narrator holds the audience in confidence. This invites the reader to come to more certain conclusions regarding the coding of the various characters: George, the corrupted villain; Charlotte and Augusta, the virtuous sisters; Milford, the self-sacrificing hero. The clear descriptions and long periodic sentences often hold conclusions in suspense until the very end of the sentence or paragraph, delivering heavy impact on the reader. This form of suspense parallels the uncertainty and mystery surrounding the twin sisters that reign throughout the story until the final revelation at the novel’s conclusion.


A married couple, James and Mary Milford, along with their infant son, live on the most impoverished, filthiest street of an English town called Whitechapel after a serious downfall in fortune. In a chance encounter one day, Milford meets a strange man on the road. When the stranger calls Milford by his true name, James Clavering, Milford recognizes him as a man that his late grandfather used to be friendly with (the novel never explains why Milford decided to go by this name instead of Clavering). As the two men catch up, the stranger offers Milford a proposition that would catapult his destitute position to one of comfort and independence. This offer piques Milford’s curiosity, and the man, who insists on remaining unnamed, arranges for a second meeting the next night at the Milford home to discuss the details of his unique offer if he were to accept.

The following night, the stranger arrives at the Milford’s house and persuades Milford and his wife to accept the proposition. He elaborates a little upon it, saying if the couple were to do a task for him, they would be placed in much better conditions than Whitechapel. Milford and his wife accept, and they, along with their son and the stranger, leave their current home immediately. Despite asking, the stranger refuses to tell the couple the destination of their journey, saying everything would be explained in due time.

An illustration of the royal twins as babies

Mr. and Mrs. Milford are blindfolded upon arrival, and find themselves in a well-furnished apartment. The stranger makes the two swear an oath of secrecy before bringing in a middle-aged woman, holding twin girls in her arms. The man finally explains the proposition in full: the Milfords are to take in the two infants and raise them as their own children until an undisclosed time. In return, the Milfords would receive enough money to give them an education and a place to live. The man does reveal that the twins are named Augusta and Charlotte and that they are of noble descent; however, they must not know the truth about their heritage until the proper time. He further tells them that if anyone knows the truth about the twins and the events of this night, lives would be at stake. The Milfords take the infants from the woman, and they, their own infant son, and the stranger travel once more to their new home. At their new home, the stranger takes his leave of the couple, saying he does not know when they will be able to meet again. Before bed, Milford notices that Augusta is wearing an extremely valuable locket necklace. Inside the locket is a miniature portrait of a woman whom the Milfords notice extremely resembles the infant girls.

The next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Milford meet two female servants, Mrs. Morton and Martha, whom the stranger hired to assist in childrearing and housekeeping. They also explore the house, and in the drawing room, discover a portrait of the same woman in Augusta’s locket, which they conclude must be the twins’ mother.

The narrator then tells of the Clavering family’s past history, revealing how Mr. and Mrs. Milford arrived at their state of severe poverty. Milford’s uncle had stripped Milford of his share of his grandfather’s inheritance out of jealousy and malice, reducing him and his wife to homeless beggars before meeting the stranger.

The months pass rather peacefully. The stranger continues to send letters and money to support the Milfords and to remind them of the importance of their secrecy. The twins Augusta and Charlotte grow to be beautiful and intelligent young children under the couple’s care. A few years later, Martha accompanies the young twins on an outing. When Martha arrives back home, she is crying and agitated, and recounts how a woman stole the girls from her and carried them away in a carriage. She describes the lady as resembling the one in the portrait in the drawing room. Mr. and Mrs. Milford are thrown into worry. On the third day of the twins disappearance, the Milfords are surprised to see them delivered back home by the strange man. He leaves soon, and Milford asks the girls to tell them everything that happened during the kidnapping. The sisters reveal that the woman who snatched them away was very kind yet showed extreme emotion towards them. The stranger also acted very kindly towards them, and had taken them home from the woman’s house on the third day. The Milfords are certain now that this woman is the twins’ mother, and suspect that somehow, the woman and the stranger are related as well. From his kindness in delivering them back to Mr. and Mrs. Milford, they suspect that the stranger is also somehow related to the twins.

More years pass, and while Augusta and Charlotte grow ever more beautiful, intelligent, and virtuous, the Milfords’ own son, George, develops an angry temper and associates with gamblers and criminals. He grows sullen towards their parents and jealous of the twins for stealing most of his parents’ affections. He begins to suspect the twins are not actually his sisters until one night, he overhears the entire truth as Mr. and Mrs. Milford are talking, and begins to plan his parents’ downfall.

A series of misfortunes fall upon the Milfords in quick succession. Mrs. Milford dies from illness, casting her husband into grief and an illness of his own. Additionally, his money supply runs dangerously low; the stranger had not kept in contact with the Milfords for a period of time. This resulted in having to let go of Martha and Mrs. Morton’s services, as well as moving to a new, poorer location with a different landlord. Augusta and Charlotte must work as maids in neighboring houses to provide money for the family. In order to keep up his extravagant gambling life, George uses his knowledge of the truth about the twins to blackmail his father into supporting his spendthrift lifestyle, knowing if his father refused, he would be endangering the secrecy he vowed to keep.

One day during this period of time, Milford takes the twins on a walk, and they witness a man fall off an uncontrollable horse. They quickly take him to their home and tend to his injuries. The entire family become quite taken with the man; Charlotte especially is struck by his good looks and falls in love. Before he leaves, he tells them he is named Henry Stirling and hopes to return to see the family soon, for he had also noticed Charlotte and desired to take her as his wife. However, Milford soon receives a letter from the stranger, warning him that Stirling’s character is dangerous and not to let him too close. To the disappointment of Charlotte, Milford tells Stirling they cannot associate with him any longer because of class differences and not to come again. Stirling departs upset and likewise disappointed. Stirling meets George on the way back from the Milford’s, and they make a deal in which George would help Stirling obtain Charlotte for a price.

One night, the twins wake up to their house on fire. Struggling to find any way out of the burning house, they are finally rescued out by Stirling, who happens to be passing by. The fire leaves the family homeless once more, and they are forced to rent in an extremely poor area. Charlotte’s love for Stirling burns stronger than ever after seeing him again, and George becomes a messenger for Stirling and Charlotte, communicating for them without Augusta or Milford’s knowledge. Stirling continues to woo Charlotte until he receives her consent to elope with him when Augusta and Milford are away on a walk.

When Milford and Augusta learn about Charlotte’s disappearance from a witnessing neighbor, Milford’s health takes a drastic turn for the worse, rendering him too weak to get out of bed. Days pass, and his health continues to decline until he feels the day of his death. He laments that he will not get to see Charlotte one last time before he dies. He is in the process of revealing to Augusta the secret of her birth before he dies, when Charlotte bursts through the door, having run from Stirling, apologetic, regretful, and terrified for her father’s health. Milford rejoices at getting to see both twins before he goes. He finally tells them that he and Mary are not actually their parents, and dies.

An illustration of Mr. Milford’s deathbed

A funeral is held for Milford a few days later. The next day, the stranger surprises the twins and reveals himself as their uncle and the Duke of M—. He tells them the entire truth of their birth: the twins are, in fact, the Ladies Charlotte and Augusta, and their parents are the Countess of C— and the Prince of Wales, the second most powerful man in England. Because of passage of the Royal Marriage Act, the marriage of the twins’ parents, unapproved of by the king, was considered illegal, and therefore illegitimated their birth, thus the reason for their secret upbringing. The twins then realize the strange woman who had kidnapped them as children and the woman depicted in the drawing room portrait and locket miniature was their mother, the Countess. The next day, the Duke takes the twins to be reconciled with their mother, and a joyful reunion ensues. Charlotte is eventually officially married to Henry Stirling (revealed to be an Earl), and Augusta to another distinguished nobleman. Meanwhile, George squanders away all his money and property and lives a miserable life.


The Age [London, England], Issue 6, February 06, 1842.

Cleave’s Gazette of Variety [London, England], October 12, 1839.

The Era, May 9, 1858, in British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Gale.

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

James, Louis and Helen R. Smith. “Prest, Thomas Peckett (1809/10–1859).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2008,

Northampton Mercury, April 27, 1867, 8, in British Library Newspapers, Part III: 1741-1950. Gale,

The Penny Satirist [London, England], Issue 153. March 21, 1840.

Prest, Thomas Peckett. The Royal Twins: Or, The Sisters of Mystery. London, G. Purkess, 1848.

The Satirist; or, the Censor of the Times [London, England], February 06, 1842.

Smith, Helen R. New Light on Sweeney Todd, Thomas Peckett Prest, James Malcolm Rymer and Elizabeth Caroline Grey. Bloomsbury: Jarndyce, 2002. 

Williams, Henry Llewellyn. “Henry Llewellyn Williams’s Reminiscences of the Famous Old English House of Lloyd.” New York Times Book Review, August 20, 1904.

Researcher: Melissa Zhu

Julia St. Pierre

Julia St. Pierre

Julia St. Pierre. A Tale of the French Revolution

Author: Unknown
Publisher: E. Lloyd
Publication Year: 1842
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 14cm x 22cm
Pages: 78
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .L856 1800z no.2

Published in 1842, this novel is commonly mistaken for a 1796 novel with a similar title by Helen Craik, but is actually a short plagiarized adaptation of a 1797 play by J. C. Cross.

Material History

The title page for Julia St. Pierre

The copy of Julia St. Pierre. A Tale of the French Revolution housed in the Sadleir-Black collection is bound in a volume between two separate novels: Lucelle; or, The Young Indian and The Commodore’s Daughter. The volume is 22 cm long, 14 cm wide, and slightly less than 2 cm thick. The binding is bumpy, textured, and fashioned from dark brown leather. It covers most of the back and front covers of the book. The cover does not include any images or identifiers. The corners and spine of the book are covered by a smooth, light brown letter, which extends about an inch onto the front and back from the spine. On the spine inscribed in gold is Julia St. Pierre, as well as shortened titles of the other two novels in the volume, written as Lucelle and Commodore’s Daughter. There are also two thin gold lines on the top and bottom of the spine. The leather is worn away at the top and bottom of the spine, and the corners are slightly bent. However, other than these minor signs of wear, the book is in excellent condition and appears fairly new. It is also very plain, as the cover is not original, and was likely bound around 1900, when the style of bookbinding was much plainer than in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The pages of the book are very thin, almost translucent. The pages are also rough to the touch. They are not yellowed by age, and are mostly in excellent condition. The exception is a few small burn marks, as well as some slight discoloration from the ink. When the book is closed, on the top and bottom as well the outside edge, the pages are covered with red flecks. This sprinkling effect was for decoration and was achieved by dipping a brush in red ink and then flicking the ink onto the pages. The pages are quite stiff and do not lie flat or turn easily, indicating it has not been heavily read.

The book’s title page has the full title and the publishing information, but has no reference to the author. In fact, nowhere in the book is the name of the author mentioned. The lack of an author may be due to the fact that this novel is a short adaptation of a play, and is therefore mostly plagiarized. By not including a specific author, the publisher avoids claiming that the work is authentically that of one of his writers, thus minimizing the risk of publishing the plagiarized work. The lack of an author also contributes to the sense of mystery that accompanies gothic novels.

The fold-out illustration at the front of the novel depicts the conflict between Delmar and Mordaunt

Following the title page is a large illustration that is wider than a single page. It is thus folded in and bent, and seems to be comprised of two separate pages connected by an old yellowed strip of tape. The illustration is in black and white. The lines are very thin, but the picture is detailed and drawn in a simple, traditional style, and is captioned at the “Victor St. Pierre interrupts the between Charles Delmar and Henri Mourdant.” The missing word in this sentence, after “the,” suggests that the illustration was ripped and then taped back together. Throughout the novel, other smaller illustrations appear. These take up about three-quarters of a page, and are nested between chunks of text. None of these smaller illustrations are captioned.

While page 48 features a border, the borders stop and do not resume beginning with page 49

On the first page of the novel, the full title appears at the top. On each following page, the words “Julia St. Pierre” are at the top of the page. The text of each page is surrounded by a border made of two thin lines, enclosing it in a box. These borders are consistent until about halfway through the book, when they suddenly cease to exist. The likely explanation for this is that different sections of the book were typeset by two different teams, who did not realize the inconsistency. The margins on the bottom and outer edge are slightly less than 2 cm. The margins on the top and inner edge are much smaller at less than 1 cm. The text itself is in very small print and closely spaced. The consistency of the ink varies, even among letters on the same page. There are no particular marks of ownership, such as writing in the margins or names on the inside cover. The book is overall in excellent condition and appears largely untouched.

Textual History

It is extremely difficult to establish a textual history for Julia St. Pierre. The book was published anonymously in 1848, but is usually assumed to be the work of Helen Craik, a Scottish writer who lived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Craik did publish a novel called Julia de St. Pierre in 1796, and the 1848 novel is usually assumed to be a reprinting of her book. However, they are actually two completely different novels. This is evidenced by several facts, such as the slight inconsistency in the titles (Julia St. Pierre versus Julia de St. Pierre), as well as the fact that the 1848 version was published 23 years after Craik’s death. It could have simply been a reprinting with a small error in the title, but the considerable amount of time between the publishing of the two novels is unusual, and there is nothing to suggest that interest in Craik’s works peaked in the mid-nineteenth century, which seems to be the only reason the novel would have been reprinted. The strongest evidence for these being two separate novels comes from the fact that the plot and characters are completely different. Thus, despite the fact that these two novels are often catalogued as the same book, they appear quite distinct.

The little scholarly work available on Julia St. Pierre supports the idea that it is a different novel than Craik’s 1792 work.In her book, Rebellious Hearts: British Women Writers and the French Revolution, Adriana Craciun states in a footnote: “The 1848 Julia St. Pierre is actually a novella based on J. C. Cross’s dramatic spectacle Julia of Louvain; or, Monkish Cruelty, first performed at the Royal Circle Theatre in Southwark, 1797” (224n). This discrepancy between the true nature of the novel and the way it is catalogued presents considerable barriers for researching the textual history. Without an author, and with little guarantee that any information is actually referring to the selected text, it becomes difficult to construct a history of the text.

An example of the illustrations advertised as “large quarto Engravings”

Although no information is available on the author of Julia St. Pierre, there is some available on its publishing. In his 1941 work A Gothic Bibliography, Montague Summers states that the novel was first published in London in 1842, by E. Lloyd and under the title Julia St. Pierre. A Horrible Story of the French Revolution. It was later re-issued, also by Lloyd and in London, but by the title Julia St. Pierre. A Tale of the French of the Revolution. Summers includes a note stating “it is many years since I read this tale, but if my memory serves it is identical with (or only very slightly altered from) Julia De St. Pierre, 3 vols., 1796. However I have thought it well in the circumstances to give it a separate entry” (378). This gives some insight into the general academic confusion over the nature of the text; it appears that it was referenced in relation to the earlier work by Helen Craik, and was from then on assumed to be the same book. The publisher, E. Lloyd, likely refers to Edward Lloyd. According to British Literary Publishing Houses, 18201880, “Edward Lloyd has been called—and rightly so—‘the father of the cheap press.’ He founded a publishing empire based on cheap fiction (the ‘penny dreadfuls’ or ‘penny bloods’) for the newly literate populace and popular periodicals for an emerging mass market. He was also among the first to introduce the new techniques of printing, advertising, and distribution necessary for the mass production of all varieties of cheap publications” (Humpherys). Julia St. Pierre was thus most likely a penny dreadful, sold to the general populace and intended to thrill and horrify. This description of Lloyd bringing Gothic novels to the masses is consistent with the belief that Julia St. Pierre is an adaptation of a successful play; Lloyd’s earliest successes were plagiarisms of Dickens, and writers and publishers often plagiarized popular plotlines in order to bring them to the masses, who otherwise would not have access to them.

Lloyd advertised Julia St. Pierre in Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, under the classified ads. The novel was said to be sold in “Penny Weekly Numbers, illustrated with large quarto Engravings” (“New Illustrated Romances” 11). It is referenced in the March 19, March 26, and August 6 issues of Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper in 1848. Other than these three advertisements (which are virtually identical in content), no mentions of Julia St. Pierre have yet been discovered in other books or periodicals.

Narrative Point of View

Julia St. Pierre is told from the point of view of an anonymous third person objective narrator. The novel is written in past tense, and uses long, verbose sentences, with words and phrases like “solemnized the nuptials” (1). The novel consists almost entirely of dialogue, and what narration there is focuses almost entirely on the plot, and does not offer commentary or insight on the events of the novel. The narrator also does not insert themselves into the novel. However, at the beginning of the book, the narrator twice acknowledges their own existence, and the process of writing. On the first page of the novel, the narrator refers to “the morning to which the commencement of our present narrative belongs” and “the time of which we are now writing” (1). Other than these two instances, the narrator does not diverge from the novel’s overall formula of scant narration and the expository dialogue that drives the plot. Rather than revealing anything about the characters’ emotional states through an omniscient narrator, the narration describes the character’s facial expressions and how they deliver their dialogue, with words like “exclaimed,” “sighed,” and “cried” being frequently used.

Sample Passage:

Having made his way through the entrance hall, Charles Delmar took the passage which led towards the western apartments of the mansion, and on reaching the door of the room in which he had ascertained Julia was, he paused for a few moments, half afraid to present himself too abruply [sic] before her. A death-like silence, however, prevailed, and at length, mustering resolution, he gently turned the lock, and immediately stood in the presence of his betrothed. She was kneeling before a crucifix, and so absorbed in the outpouring of her heart, that she was unconscious of his being near, till he had approached within a few paces, when springing upon her feet, she rushed with a faint exclamation of mingled joy and fear into his arms.

“Dearest Julia,” he exclaimed, “I am here to save you from the villain, whose unexpected return has filled your bosom with so much grief. Rely upon my protection, and you shall yet be saved from him, who loves you not, though he is here to claim your hand in marriage.”

“Alas!” she cried, “you know not the danger you run, by thus venturing into my presence. But now he vowed vengeance, if I ever met you again and every moment I am expecting his return to insist upon my accompanying him within this hour to the convent chapel.” (7-8).

The overall effect of the novel’s narration is a distancing of the reader from the plot. By using an anonymous, third person narrator, who offers no insight into the workings of the characters’ minds, the novel creates the sense that the story being told is entirely objective. This is, perhaps, to counteract the fact that the novel draws very clear lines between good and evil, and by presenting this as an objective narration the book avoids seeming biased. In addition, the narrator’s tendency towards verbose language and long compound sentences has the potential to make the reader feel disengaged from the text. This somewhat negates the effect of the histrionic narrative style. As seen in the passage above, the narrator uses dramatic words like “villain,” “vengeance,” and “death-like silence.” The effect of such language would often be to heighten the reading experience and engage the reader, but the novel largely fails to do this due to its rambling narration. This is compounded by the fact that the narrator frequently uses the passive voice, which is by nature a more removed style of writing, and does not afford the immediacy provided by the active voice.


The novel opens by introducing the four principal characters and their collective backstory. The title character, Julia St. Pierre, is a young, beautiful, and strong-willed woman. She is to wed her fiancé and true love, Charles Delmar, on the day the book opens. Charles is also a friend of Julia’s brother, Victor St. Pierre. Previously, Julia had been unwillingly engaged to a Monsieur Henri Mordaunt, the enemy of Charles Delmar. Mordaunt clearly did not care for Julia, and his only motivation in marrying her was to make Charles miserable by preventing him from marrying Julia. Julia, for her part, despised Mordaunt. After Mordaunt’s ship sank on a sea voyage, Julia waited two years and then became engaged to Charles. However, on the very day the two of them are supposed to be married, Mordaunt reappears, alive and determined to marry Julia. He tells Julia and Victor that unless Julia marries him, he will ruin Victor. All of Victor’s property is held under the power of the Dauphin of France, with whom Mordaunt has connections. Mordaunt insists that if Julia does not marry him, he will persuade the Dauphin to turn Victor out of his house, and he will have to wander as a beggar. Charles arrives at the St. Pierre house, where this is transpiring, and he and Mordaunt are on the verge of a sword fight when Victor disarms them both and diffuses the situation. Mordaunt gives Charles an ultimatum, telling him he must renounce his claim to Julia or he will duel him, and he tells Julia they will be married that night, despite her protests. Julia and Victor seem to see no other choice but for her to marry Mordaunt, but Charles is determined to prevent it.  

Charles leaves the St. Pierre house and is walking through the abbey when he overhears a conversation between Mordaunt’s servant and the father of the abbey, during which the servant (under Mordaunt’s orders) bribes the father heavily to perform the marriage ceremony between Julia and Mordaunt. Charles scales the walls of the abbey and sneaks into the chapel, determined to prevent the wedding from taking place. The wedding begins, but a fight between Julia, Mordaunt, Charles, and Victor breaks out at the altar. Hoping to get Mordaunt to change his mind, Charles, Julia, and Victor ask Mordaunt to postpone the wedding. Mordaunt agrees to postpone it till noon the next day, as long Julia stays at the abbey under the care of the mother Abbess until then, and under the condition that if she does not agree to marry him, she has to take the veil.

An illustration captioned, “A monk’s robe is given to Mordaunt for disguise”

The next morning at the abbey, Julia goes to the Abbess for help, who sympathizes with her but says she cannot help her. Julia and Victor discuss her situation, and he tells her to refuse to marry Mordaunt, despite the fact that Mordaunt has promised to ruin him financially. At noon, Mordaunt appears and asks Julia for her decision. Julia rejects him, and he admits that he never loved her and only wanted revenge on Charles. However, he refuses to leave until the ceremony to make Julia a nun has taken place. They proceed to the chapel to perform the ceremony. Meanwhile, Charles is attempting to enter the church to stop the ceremony from being performed. The porter at the church gate reveals that the Father, conspiring with Mordaunt, has banned Charles from the abbey, and also reveals that the Father once sentenced to death a girl who said she would take the veil and then refused. The porter gives Charles a monk’s habit to disguise himself, and Charles is able to sneak into the church. The Father, the Abbess, and Mordaunt all encourage Julia to reconsider her decision, but she stands firm that she will become a nun. Mordaunt announces that he wants her left alone for half an hour so she can reconsider her decision. Everyone leaves the chapel but Julia. Charles reveals himself to her and tells her to run away with him. They are about to leave, but Mordaunt, eavesdropping, has overheard the whole exchange. Charles is dragged from the abbey, and Julia is taken to the dungeon in punishment for attempting to break her vow that she would take the veil. Her life is considered to be in danger, due to the Father’s history of executing women who refuse to take the veil.

Charles and Victor appeal to the mayor of the town regarding Julia’s situation, but the mayor refuses to believe that the Father is working with Mordaunt and is capable of murder. He also expresses a reluctance to become involved in the situation, as he does not want to involve himself in affairs of the church considering the church’s immense power. Meanwhile, Julia is languishing in the dungeon, surrounded by dead bodies. A benevolent nun visits her and tells her that the people have stormed the Bastille and the monarchy is going to fall. The revolution may put the church out of power and save Julia. Mordaunt remains loyal to the king, while Victor and Charles align themselves with the rebels. After declaring his support for the king, Mordaunt is hunted by rebels everywhere in the town. He hides out in the woods with the help of his servant, who brings him a monk’s habit so he can sneak into the church, disguised from the rebels, and marry Julia. Mordaunt leaves for the abbey, while his servant stays behind and is taken prisoner by the rebels. At the abbey, the rebels uncover Mordaunt’s disguise. Rather than be taken alive, he kills himself. News has spread of Julia’s imprisonment in the church’s dungeon, and she becomes a symbol of liberation to the rebels, who immediately free her from the dungeon when they take the church. The novel ends with Julia and Charles being married.


Craciun, Adriana. “The New Cordays: Helen Craik and British Representations of Charlotte Corday, 1793–1800.” Rebellious Hearts: British Women Writers and the French Revolution, edited by Adriana Craciun and Kari E. Lokke, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2004, pp. 193–232.

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

Julia St. Pierre: A Tale of the French Revolution. London, E. Lloyd, 1842.

“New Illustrated Romances.” Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, Issue 278, March 19, 1848, p. 11.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography, London, The Fortune Press, 1941.

Researcher: Katherine DesCamp-Renner