CIRCE
BY
MARY ELIZABETH BRADDON
Edited and with an introduction by Gabrielle Malcolm

At the time she wrote her most famous novels, Braddon also wrote a number of pseudonymous novels. Circe was published in 1867 under the pseudonym of Babington White, and its publication caused a furore. Always interested in French literature, in 1864 Braddon had successfully adapted Flaubert's Madame Bovary with her novel The Doctor's Wife. However, with Circe, it was deemed she had gone too far, this time using Octave Feuillet's Dalila (1857) as her inspiration, to the extent of directly translating one page. Although in other ways the novel was substantially different, an old enemy, Frederick Greenwood, took the opportunity to take revenge against Braddon and her husband, the publisher John Maxwell, in the columns of his newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette, to expose her as a literary thief. A series of heated articles resulted in forged letters, and a denial from Braddon that she was Babington White.

Circe is a lurid tale of art and obsession. A young painter, Laurence Bell, finds a patron and model in the beautiful and captivating Princess d'Aspramonte, and falls obsessively in love with his subject, abandoning his fiancee and destroying his own career. When the fickle Princess leaves him, Bell becomes consumed with a desire to destroy the sorceress who has ruined him.

Circe has been reprinted unabridged from the scarce two volume edition published by Ward, Lock & Tyler in 1867.

As well as the complete text of Circe, this edition includes a selection of contemporary newspaper articles about the controversy, and an article by Braddon defending herself. In addition, three of her uncollected poems have been reproduced, and a 1909 essay by Braddon, 'The Woman I Remember,' in which she contrasts the position of women in 1909 with those in the 1850s.

Gabrielle Malcolm is a lecturer in Drama at Edge Hill College. She is currently researching the works of Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

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CONTENTS OF CIRCE and THE WOMAN I REMEMBER
Introduction by Gabrielle Malcolm
Circe by Mary Braddon
"Dalila" and "Circe"
Mr. Babington White's New Novel
Who is Mr. Babington White?
"Circe"
Mr. Babington White's "Circe"
Mr. Babington White and the Pall Mall Gazette
Pall Mall Gazette letters
Miss Braddon and the Pall Mall Gazette
Good-natured Criticism
A letter by M.E. Braddon to the Pall Mall Gazette
A Remonstrance: Captain Shandon to the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette
The Hawking Party by M.E. Braddon
The Lady of the Land by M.E. Braddon
Violets by M.E. Braddon
The Woman I Remember by M.E. Braddon

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The Literary Lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon by Jennifer Carnell (Biography)

 

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