Synopses & Reviews
Lady Audley's Secret (1862) subtly undermined the Victorian myth that female self-assertion was a form of insanity. At the same time it established the prolific Mary Elizabeth Braddon as a leading "sensation" novelist, a rival to the master of the genre, Wilkie Collins. Flouting the Victorian convention of the "blue-eyed wax doll" heroine, Braddon presented a sexually attractive woman with great depth and complexity of character: a woman, as one contemporary critic put it, "high-strung...full of passion, purpose, and movement very liable to error." This novel can now be seen as an anticipation of Ibsen's great dramas, and as an unabashed bid for freedom from the constraints of Victorian womanhood.
This novel, with its most untypically forceful heroine, can be seen as an anticipation of Ibsen's great dramas, and as an unabashed bid for freedom from the constraints of Victorian womanhood.
This Victorian bestseller, along with Braddon's other famous novel, Aurora Floyd, established her as the main rival of the master of the sensational novel, Wilkie Collins. A protest against the passive, insipid 19th-century heroine, Lady Audley was described by one critic of the time as "high-strung, full of passion, purpose, and movement." Her crime (the secret of the title) is shown to threaten the apparently respectable middle-class world of Victorian England.