In spite of the importance of the idea of the 'tale' within Romantic-era literature, short fiction of the period has received little attention from critics. Contextualizing British short fiction within the broader framework of early nineteenth-century print culture, Tim Killick argues that authors and publishers sought to present short fiction in book-length volumes as a way of competing with the novel as a legitimate and prestigious genre. Beginning with an overview of the development of short fiction through the late eighteenth century and analysis of the publishing conditions for the genre, including its appearance in magazines and annuals, Killick shows how Washington Irving's hugely popular collections set the stage for British writers. Subsequent chapters consider the stories and sketches of writers as diverse as Mary Russell Mitford and James Hogg, as well as didactic short fiction by authors such as Hannah More, Maria Edgeworth, and Amelia Opie. His book makes a convincing case for the evolution of short fiction into a self-conscious, intentionally modern form, with its own techniques and imperatives, separate from those of the novel.
’Tim Killick's British Short Fiction in the Early Nineteenth Century: The Rise of the Tale is historicism at its best... poised and judicious throughout.’ Victorian Studies 'Killick's careful and extensive research makes an important contribution to our understanding of the development of short fiction, the dynamics of the British publishing market in the early nineteenth century, and the importance of genre as a vehicle for the professional author, and thus challenges existing, mostly hostile, critical evaluations of early nineteenth-century short fiction. ... for those interested in the genealogy of short fiction or in the literary scene of the early nineteenth century, this closely argued study has much to offer.' English Studies 'Tim Killick's book offers a refreshing spin on the 'rise of' scenarios familiar to scholars of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature - partly in its careful, bibliographic approach and partly by accounting for the rise of something other than the novel. That something is the 'tale,' or what Killick more generally refers to as 'short fiction': a loose, baggy designation that encompasses tales, short stories, sketches, and essays. Killick's aim is to 'give a more complete picture of early nineteenth-century short fiction'. And while providing such a picture means confronting and sorting through the category's inherent messiness, his approach, which is statistically grounded and historically centered, is up to the challenge.' BARS Bulletin