edited by Anne-Marie Beller
First published in 1864, Henry Dunbar includes all the classic ingredients of a sensation novel, including murder, fraud, mistaken identity, and a train accident. The dramatic nature of the tale led to it being adapted for the stage, most notably by Tom Taylor, with Henry Neville and Kate Terry in the lead roles.
Some contemporary critics were horrified by this “tale of crime”, but modern readers will enjoy a thumping good story and an early example of the great British detective novel. The Era awarded the novel qualified praise, commenting:
In our opinion, the story of Henry Dunbar is superior to Lady Audley’s Secret, or any other novel that we have seen from the pen of its author. She has retained all her excellence of plot, her strength, her animal vivacity and boldness of incidents; and has lost much crudeness and other defects likely to appear in early writings.
This new edition includes a critical introduction by Anne-Marie Beller, suggestions for further reading, explantory notes, and additional contextual material:
- Contemporary reviews of the novel
- Examples of sensation fiction parodies
- Extract from Tom Taylor’s stage adaptation
- Review of theatrical performance
The Year’s Work in English Studies praised the “useful introduction” and “fascinating, helpful notes”, calling it an “excellent edition”.
Anne-Marie Beller is a lecturer in the department of English and Drama at Loughborough University. Her publications include a forthcoming monograph for Ashgate’s 19th century series, Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Writing in the Margins, and also a comprehensive companion to Braddon’s work for McFarland. Anne-Marie has published articles and chapters on Wilkie Collins and Ellen Wood, as well as Braddon, and is contributing chapters on Amelia B. Edwards and Braddon’s Joshua Haggard’s Daughter to the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Sensation Fiction.