Alas, dear Jane Austen was no longer with us by the 1830s, and the Brontë sisters would not release their first poetry until 1846, but that doesn’t mean the literary landscape in England belonged only to men. While the sleuth in my A Dickens of a Crime Series is indeed famed author Charles Dickens, he was not the only writer on the English scene, and in my fourth novel of the series, The Pickwick Murders, I peek into female literary lives.
Though lady novelists, poets, and playwrights abounded, they have sadly faded to obscurity for the most part. In her day, though, one woman was considered the best dramatic writer since William Shakespeare.
One of the reasons Dickens chose his future wife, Catherine Hogarth, was because her parents were members of the literary scene. George Hogarth was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, and Georgina Hogarth knew the famed playwright in question, Joanna Baillie.
Baillie wrote poetry and plays that were focused on the concept of passions. Her book of poetry, Fugitive Verses, is important to my plot.
An extract from: “Lines to a Teapot by Joanna Baillie”
And as she poured the beverage, through the room
Was spread its fleeting, delicate perfume.
Then did bright wit and cheerful fancy play
With all the passing topics of the day.
So delicate, so varied and so free
Was the heart’s pastime, then inspired by thee,
That goblet, bowl or flask could boast no power
Of high excitement, in their reigning hour,
Compared to thine
Here are some famous names from the period.
- Mary Russell Mitford’s Our Village sketches were popular, and she is considered the first professional to write about the game of cricket.
- Lucy Aikin, a friend of Joanna Baillie’s, was still publishing her histories in the 1830s. King Charles I seems to have been a popular topic in this decade, as she and Mitford both wrote about him.
- Maria Edgeworth published her final novel in 1834. In her heyday, she was considered the most popular novelist.
- Mary Shelley, who came to fame earlier in the century, published three novels in the 1830s.
- Fanny Burney had finished her novels but did publish a nonfiction work in 1832.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning first published her adult work in 1838.
I hope I recalled some old favorites to your memory and perhaps put some new authors on your reading list.
About the Author
Though her last known British ancestor departed London in the 1920s, Heather Redmond is a committed Anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century. She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. For more information, please visit HeatherRedmond.com and her page on Twitter.
In this latest reimagining of Dickens as an amateur sleuth, Charles is tossed into Newgate Prison on a murder charge, and his fiancée Kate Hogarth must clear his name …
London, January 1836: Just weeks before the release of his first book, Charles is intrigued by an invitation to join the exclusive Lightning Club. But his initiation in a basement maze takes a wicked turn when he stumbles upon the corpse of Samuel Pickwick, the club’s president. With the victim’s blood literally on his hands, Charles is locked away in notorious Newgate Prison.
Now it’s up to Kate to keep her framed fiancé from the hangman’s noose. To solve this labyrinthine mystery, she is forced to puzzle her way through a fiendish series of baffling riddles sent to her in anonymous poison pen letters. With the help of family and friends, she must keep her wits about her to corner the real killer—before time runs out and Charles Dickens meets a dead end.