Full Text

CHAPTER 41. Sensation Fiction

Mark Knight

Subject Literature, Religion

Key-Topics Bible, fiction

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131605.2009.00041.x


Although “sensation fiction” is often understood to refer to a group of novels written during the 1860s, the term predated the decade and continued to be applied to works written well after 1870. Moreover, the term “sensation” meant more than a particular type of fiction, as Jenny Bourne Taylor (1988 , p. 2) explains: “Sensation” was one of the keywords of the 1860s. It encapsulated the particular way in which the middle-class sense of cultural crisis was experienced during that decade. … In one sense this wasn't so much a coherent literary tendency or genre, more a critical term held together by the word “sensation” itself. Scholarly attention to sensation fiction has tended to focus on the work of more familiar novelists such as Wilkie Collins, Mary Braddon and Mrs Henry Wood. However, as Andrew Maunder's Varieties of Women's Sensation Fiction has shown, there were a great many authors of sensation narratives who have since been forgotten. Their work was discussed at the time by a range of authors and cultural commentators, including Sigismund Smith, the fictional “sensation author” ( Braddon, 1998 , p. 11) who appears in the curiously self-reflexive opening to Mary Braddon's The Doctor's Wife (1864). Smith's work as “the author of about half a dozen highly-spiced fictions, which enjoyed an immense popularity amongst the classes who like their literature as they like their ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top