Mysteries of London

Valancourt Books’ edition of Reynolds’ Mysteries of London

I have been reading about this book’s popularity and I’m delighted that Valancourt Books has decided to publish an annotated edition of this novel. The link above is to their website’s wonderful write-up of the novel so I will allow them to speak for themselves. All I will say for myself is SQUEAL! Lovely sunday morning discovery. I see an amazon order in my near future. How about you?


The Victorian Women Writers Project

Victorian Women Writers Project

Amy Levy: one of the Victorian Women Writers

The Victorian Age is an age when women – many women – establish themselves as professional writers. Certainly, there were many women who blazed a trail for them (Francis Burney, Jane Austen, Eliza Haywood to name a few); however, the Victorian age is when women come to dominate the literary marketplace. Marie Corelli was the world’s first bestselling author with 100,000 copies of The Sorrows of Satan selling in 1895. Vernon Lee, a self-trained critic, scholar, and fiction writer held her own as an aesthete with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Walter Pater. Mary Elizabeth Braddon became one of the world’s most prolific authors writing at least 85 novels in her lifetime while editing Belgravia and raising 11 children (only 5 of which were hers). You may not have heard of many of these women because too many of them were excluded from the traditional canon of literary greats. While George Eliot was eventually accepted into the canon, some women still struggle to find a place.

To the left is a picture of one of my favorites: Amy Levy. Poet and novelist, she committed suicide in the 1880s. She had a suicide pact with Olive Schreiner but only Ms. Levy went through with it (I wonder how Schreiner felt when she found out?). Amy wrote heart wrenching poetry like “Xantippe” and “To Vernon Lee” indicating both feminist leanings (she was a new woman and one of the first women to attend College in the whole of England and a profoundly creative mind. Her novels Romance of a Shop and Reuben Sachs. Exploring both her Jewish heritiage and seemingly lesbian desires, she was well reviewed by critics such as Oscar Wilde and other contemporaries. Having lived a tragically short life, Amy Levy is a model for the tortured artists we romanticise from the 20th century.

Please explore this website. There are numerous works downloaded and the creators have recommitted to the upkeep and updating of the project. Support the site because many of these works are not available anywhere else. Help to preserve, celebrate, and READ the works of trailblazing Victorian women writers.

The Full Wiki?

Victorian Era – The Full Wiki???

I was trolling the web for new things and stumbled upon this website. Are Victorianists aware of this? Basically, it’s lifted from wikipedia and is a full cheat sheet for the Victorian era. I’m very uncomfortable with this because I think that such information requires the steady hand of a trained academic to sift out the tripe and keep the reader focussed on valuable and accurate information.

I’m pointing this site out because this is what your students are reading when they google “Victorian” – I’ve never really done this before I began this site. It’s a fascinating world out there full of products to buy and viruses to pick up (I’ve avoided doing either, so far).

Students need guidance as to what information is good and what isn’t. The assumption is that it’s all good – who else but an academic would be interested in the Victorians, right? Well, such is the assumption of an unmotivated nineteen year old who just wants to finish that paper so they can go to the beerfest being held later in the evening.

Some of the blame is on the side of academics – I think there are ways to make this information more accessible and fun in terms of the learning experience. That’s why I began this site. Students see academics now as a service and the customer is always right. We know different, of course. However, don’t underestimate the student’s ability to underestimate you. Where they are correct is that we are doing very little within the field to counter misinformation, or sloppy resesearch. I’m sure someone worked very hard on this page. I don’t mean to berate the efforts going into Wiki-work. However, generalists have a limited knowledge and need to work with specialists to get these things right. Perhaps then we can transform these generic info sites into valuable introductory resources for study and support.

Be wary of this link, but also, be aware. If you are a student looking for a source for that essay due tomorrow – DON”T USE THIS LINK! If you are a professor teaching students how to research (and if you’re not teaching them how to research, why not?), then take not and be concerned. The democratization of knowledge on the web has led to a glut of useless information disguised as truth. Our job in the academy of the 21st century is to guide students through this glut and towards valuable knowledge. Critical reading applies to the web so let’s use those skills to consider what students are exposed to.

A Musical Instrument

A selection from the wonderful Academic website Representative Poetry Online. A link to their main page is listed to the right. My source for the poem is available by clicking on the title. This is one of my favorite Victorian poems. It is as if the poet’s muse has violated her body. Nature’s inspiration is cruel. I like teaching this poem because it allows the class to discuss the complex emotions, feelings, and ideas that go into the process of creation. Birthing art, if you will, is an event worthy of the reader’s pause.  (NOTE: my version seems to be loading onto the page with strange page breaks. I highly recommend that readers visit the Representative Poetry Online website for its proper formatting. My version is simply here for enjoyment.)

“A Musical Instrument” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

1 WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan,
2    Down in the reeds by the river ?
3 Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
4 Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
5 And breaking the golden lilies afloat
6    With the dragon-fly on the river.

7 He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,

8    From the deep cool bed of the river :
9 The limpid water turbidly ran,
10 And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
11 And the dragon-fly had fled away,
12    Ere he brought it out of the river.

13 High on the shore sate the great god Pan,

14    While turbidly flowed the river ;
15 And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
16 With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
17 Till there was not a sign of a leaf indeed
18    To prove it fresh from the river.

19 He cut it short, did the great god Pan,

20    (How tall it stood in the river !)
21 Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
22 Steadily from the outside ring,
23 And notched the poor dry empty thing
24    In holes, as he sate by the river.

25 ` This is the way,’ laughed the great god Pan,

26    Laughed while he sate by the river,)
27 ` The only way, since gods began
28 To make sweet music, they could succeed.’
29 Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
30    He blew in power by the river.

31 Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan !

32    Piercing sweet by the river !
33 Blinding sweet, O great god Pan !
34 The sun on the hill forgot to die,
35 And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
36    Came back to dream on the river.

37 Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,

38    To laugh as he sits by the river,
39 Making a poet out of a man :
40 The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, —
41 For the reed which grows nevermore again
42    As a reed with the reeds in the river.

Annotated Dorian Gray

Nicolas Frankel’s Annotated Edition for the Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 2011.

I wanted to tell you about the beautiful illustrated and annotated edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as compiled by the wonderful Nicholas Frankel. Then, I found a great review from last year’s Washington Post and thought it best to let Michael Dirda provide you with all the details.

Michael Dirda’s Review from the Washington Post (March 2011)

What I wanted to add is that while this edition cost me $40 – and worth every penny! – there is a more economical option available now on Amazon for $10.36 (USD).

Paperback Edition on Amazon

This is an important edition, not because it’s “uncensored” (it was not censored but extensively rewritten and expanded into a full novel in 1891), but because it provides us with access to a scholarly edition of Wilde’s original Lippincott’s story. The Picture of Dorian Gray was originally published in the American journal at the same time as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four (a fantastic whodunnit that takes place during Sherlock Holmes’ very explicit cocaine-fuelled bender). Frankel’s book is also a great snapshot of the Victorian fin de siècle.

If you love Oscar Wilde – and really, if you don’t like Oscar Wilde there must be something wrong with you! – then check out Frankel’s great book – hardcover or softcover. If you don’t believe me, then read Michael Dirda’s fantastic article.

Vicky and Eddie – 100 Views!

A Royal THANK YOU for 100 views!


I am posting today to celebrate my first one hundred views! A small goal has been reached. Thank you for your visits. I hope that visitors find the links to both important and wonderfully frivolous internet resources on the Victorians and Edwardians to be both useful (a good Victorianist must always be “of use”), and enjoyable. I am having a wonderful time slowly building this site and will continue to contribute to its value as time goes on.

One goal I want to meet is about comments. No one has made a comment yet. Please be the first and say hello. It would be nice to hear from viewers. Maybe you have a blog or website you want me to link to? Maybe you have some constructive criticism? Maybe you just want to say hi. In any event, your comments are welcome.

It has been so nice to watch my stats. I’ve had visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Romania, Norway, Sweden, Spain, and Russia. I hope to fill out the entire map one day. As I state in my “About” page – I want this to be a place where we can share what we discover and learn together. So much of academics is about competition so I understand people don’t want to share something that may place them at a competitive disadvantage. I don’t want that either; so instead, share your playful escapes with me.

In any event my next goal is 500 views and the beginning of comments. Help me reach my goal. If you know of anyone who may be interested in Victorians and Edwardians – send them my way.

Thanks again for helping me reach my goal. I hope to share many more goals as my work on the Victorians and Edwardians grows in the years to come.