G. W. M. Reynolds and His Fiction : The Man Who Outsold Dickens book cover
1st Edition

G. W. M. Reynolds and His Fiction
The Man Who Outsold Dickens

ISBN 9781138579842
Published December 11, 2018 by Routledge
206 Pages

SAVE ~ $31.00
was $155.00
USD $124.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

George Reynolds is arguably the most prolific of all nineteenth-century English novelists, reaching an enormous audience through his thirty-six novels. Often selling in very large numbers in weekly one-penny installments, his works were known as by the most popular English novelist ever. Yet today, he remains almost unknown in the canon of English Literature.

A serious radical, strongly pro-woman, and a leading Chartist seeking the vote for all men, Reynolds’ vigorous heroines differ notably from the Victorian novelists’ timid norm. He was strongly pro-Jewish and pro-Gypsy, very interested in French and Italian society, but wrote for ordinary English working people. Dickens thought him a dangerous leftist: for all these reasons, he was excluded from the elite literary world.

G. W. M. Reynolds: The Man Who Outsold Dickens reestablishes Reynolds as a major figure of mid-nineteenth-century fiction and an author of European range and status. This book examines his massive popularity and notable concern with the problems of ordinary people, especially women, in the complex and often dangerous new world of the modern city. With the support of his wife Susannah, Reynolds’ enormous influence would also make a contribution to the cause of mass political education through his role in the development of popular fiction and journalism. This book is a major innovation in the field of Victorian literary studies, with relevance to popular cultural studies, the politics of literature, and publishing history, presenting properly a much overlooked major English novelist.

Table of Contents



1. Reynolds and His Novels

2. Reynold’s Reception

3. Approaching Reynolds’ Fiction

Chapter 1 Towards London and the Mysteries

    1. First Moves in Fiction
    2. Pickwick Abroad
    3. Alfred de Rosann
    4. Grace Darling
    5. Robert Macaire
    6. The Steam-Packet
    7. The Drunkard’s Tale
    8. Master Timothy’s Bookcase

Chapter 2 The Mysteries of London

Section 1: Volumes 1-2: The Markhams, Self-Managing Women, The Resurrection Man, and Other Criminals

    1. Introduction
    2. Major Male Figures
    3. Major Female Figures
    4. Minor Characters, Noble, Troubled, and Vicious
    5. Criminals Great and Small
    6. Socio-Political Commentary

Section 2 A: Volumes 3-4: Chapters 1-119, 1826-7: Aristocratic Families, Insurgent Women, Contemporary Politics

2.A.1 Aristocratic Interactions

2.A.2 The Master Criminal

2.A.3 Comic Non-Gentry

2.A.4 Corrupt Non-Gentry, and Some Decent Relatives

2.A.5 Minor Figures, Respectable and Criminal

Section 2 B: Volume 4: Chapters 120-209, 1846-7: Modern Gentry, Bourgeoisie, Seductresses, and Criminals.

2.B.1 The Gentry in the Present

2.B 2 Modern Seductresses

2.B.3 New Aristocratic Dramas

2.B.4 Modern Criminals

2.B.5 Satirical and Political Commentary

Section 3 The Mysteries of London, Series 3 and 4

3.1 Series 3, Volume 5: Thomas Miller and the Ordinary People of London

3.2 Series 4, volume 6: Edward Blanchard and Aristocratic Sentimentality

Chapter 3 Mysteries Historicized: The Days of Hogarth and The Mysteries of the Court of London

Section 1: The Parricide: Revisiting the Past in Fiction

Section 2: The Days of Hogarth: Revisiting Past London

2.1 Mystery and History

2.2 Hogarth’s Four Narrative Sequences

2.3 Jem Ruffles the Hero

2.4 Other New Characters

2.5 Century-Old London

2.6 After Reynolds and Hogarth

Section 3: The Mysteries of the Court of London, volumes 1-2: The Prince Regent and Other Villains

3.1 Royalty

3.2 Aristocracy

3.3 Other Social Figures

3.4 Criminals

3.5 Social and Political Comment

Section 4 The Mysteries of the Court of London, volumes 3-4: Venetia Trelawney Versus the Prince and Other Males

4.1 Royalty

4.2 Aristocratic Women

4.3 Aristocratic Men

4.4 Other Characters

4.5 Social and Urban Comment

Section 5 The Mysteries of the Court of London, volumes 5-6: Aristocrats: Female Villainy and Secondary Males

5.1 Introduction

5.2 The House of Saxondale

5.3 The House of Eagledean

5.4 Other Characters

5.5 Final Events

5.6 Satire and Social Reference

Section 6 The Mysteries of the Court of London, volumes 7-8: Aristocrats: Disputed Inheritance and Young Love

6.1 The Duke and His Problems

6.2 Other Characters in the Main Plot

6.3 Other Plot Strands

6.4 The Murder Mystery Resolved

6.5 Social and Political Commentary

Chapter 4 Lower-Class Heroines and Heroes of the 1850s

  1. The Seamstress: A Domestic Tale: Distress and Tragedy
  2. Mary Price, or The Memoirs of a Servant-Maid: Her Many Connections
  3. Joseph Wilmot, or The Memoirs of a Man-Servant: Masculine Service, Travel, and Inheritance
  4. Rosa Lambert, or The Memoirs of an Unfortunate Woman: Independence and Danger
  5. Ellen Percy, or The Memoirs of an Actress: Commitment -- Personal, Professional, and Amicable
  6. The Young Duchess, or The Memoirs of a Woman of Quality: Beyond the World of Ellen Percy
  7. The Soldier’s Wife: The Working Class in Uniform
  8. May Middleton, or The History of a Fortune: Conventional Approaches
  9. Agnes, or Beauty and Pleasure: Women of All Kinds

Chapter 5 Fantasy History, Historical Fiction, International Narratives

Section 1 Fantasy History

    1. Faust, A Romance of the Secret Tribunals

1.2 Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf, A Romance

1.3 The Coral Island, or The Hereditary Curse

1.4 The Necromancer, A Romance

Section 2 Historical Fiction

2.1 Pope Joan, or The Female Pontiff

2.2 Kenneth, A Romance of the Highlands

2.3 The Massacre of Glencoe, A Historical Tale

2.4 The Rye House Plot, or Ruth the Conspirator’s Daughter

2.5 Margaret, or The Discarded Queen

2.6 Canonbury House, or The Queen’s Prophecy

2.7 Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

Section 3 International Narratives

3.1 The Bronze Statue, or The Virgin’s Kiss

3.2 Omar, A Tale of the Crimean War

3.3 The Loves of the Harem, A Romance of Constantinople

3.4 Leila, or The Star of Mingrelia

3.5 The Empress Eugénie’s Boudoir

3.6 Conclusion

View More



Stephen Knight (M.A., Oxford, Ph.D. Sydney, both in English Literature) taught at universities in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Leicester, and Cardiff, and is an honorary professor at Melbourne. He has written many articles and reviews, and this is his twentieth book: they include several on crime fiction, the prize-winning Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography (2003) and recently The Politics of Myth (2015); The Mysteries of the Cities (2012) has a chapter on Reynolds’ The Mysteries of London.