Rhoda Broughton

​Tamar Heller

Available 2023

ISBN 9781915115119  Hardback    £55.00  Order

ISBN 9781915115126  Paperback  £29.99  Order ISBN 9781915115133  eBook          £29.99  Order

​216 x 140 mm. c. 230 pp.

​Key Popular Women Writers series no.7.

About this book

Rhoda Broughton (1840-1920), whose career spanned over fifty years, was one of the most popular writers of the late-Victorian era.  She burst into literary prominence—and notoriety—in 1867, with the publication in volume form of her first two novels, Not Wisely, but Too Well and Cometh Up as a Flower.  Starring respectable young women teetering on the brink of sexual fall, both books were assailed by critics as immoral and eagerly devoured by the public.  Even after she moved away from the scandalous genre of sensation fiction with which her earliest works were associated, Broughton’s tales continued to feature passionate, unconventional heroines who, as Anthony Trollope said, “throw themselves at men’s heads, and when they are not accepted only think how they may throw themselves again.”

 This book—the first full-length critical study of Broughton’s work—explores her pioneering representation of female sexuality, as well as her sensitive portrayal of women’s disadvantaged position in late-Victorian and Edwardian culture.  The book thus addresses a key paradox of Broughton’s career:  although she was classified as a writer of love stories, her depiction of romance—informed as it is by an awareness of power imbalances between the sexes—is resolutely unsentimental, even Gothic.  A highly self-conscious writer, Broughton often uses metafictional elements and intertextual allusion to convey the difficulties of translating women’s lived experience into literary form.  Her novels—particularly those written after the demise of the bulky triple-decker format—often experiment with deferring, ironically undercutting, and even avoiding conventional happily-ever-after endings.  Although she was not a self-identified feminist, Broughton’s innovations nonetheless paved the way for those of later feminist writers, such as Virginia Woolf.

About the author


​Tamar Heller, associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is the author of Dead Secrets:  Wilkie Collins and the Female Gothic (1992), and has co-edited Approaches to Teaching Gothic Fiction:  The British and American Traditions (2003) and Scenes of the Apple:   Food and the Female Body in Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Women’s Writing (2003).  She has published widely on Victorian Gothic and sensation fiction and written extensively on Rhoda Broughton, editing Cometh Up as a Flower for Pickering & Chatto’s series Varieties of Women’s Sensation Fiction: 1855-1890 (2004), and Not Wisely, but Too Well for Victorian Secrets Press (2013).


Edward Everett Root Publishers Co. Ltd.