Mary Elizabeth Braddon and the Jewish Question: A Victorian English Novelist and the Worlds of Anglo-Jewry, Zionism and Judaism, 1859 - 1913


Morris, Ruth


D/English Aberdeen University; University of York MA

Mary Elizabeth Braddon and the Jewish Question investigates the representation of Jewish characters in 70 of the prolific and wildly popular Mrs Braddon's novels from the mid 19th c to the eve of World War One. This study considers how Braddon changes her descriptions across this timeframe and argues that these changes are reflective of the changing social and economic status of the Anglo-Jewish population. Braddon's work engages with such broad themes as conversion to Christianity, the beginnings of the Zionist movement,as well as the different migrations of Jews to England from continental Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East among other considerations.

Mrs Braddon was called a “sensation writer” and her work was widely read and widely influential despite being considered outre by the more genteel elements of the literary establishment. The is the first research monograph to look at Braddon's work dealing with religion and focusing on English Judaism. The large number of titles and the time period,which was arguably the most dynamic for the Jewish community in Britain, provides a unique picture of a popular novelist and a key social question that attracted the interest of Victorian and Edwardian readers and literary commentators. This study also provides a new standpoint from which to view “sensation” fiction, of which Braddon was a chief exponent ,by suggesting how the novels definitely reflect the changing status and fortune of the Anglo-Jewish community. During the nineteenth century and even up the present day some critics have viewed sensation fiction as being ephemeral and somewhat salacious so the approach Ruth Morris has taken is markedly different and suggests that Braddon's novels are superb markers in social history and the development of themes embraced later by Bennett, Wells and Walpole.

English fiction,19thc, Anglo-Jewry in literature,the Jewish Question in England, “sensational “novels,Women's fiction,Victorian and Edwardian popular literature in Britain, literary origins of Zionism in English literature
Release Date: 
Cloth: 978-1-936320-13-4 / 1936320134
Trim Size: 
6 x 9

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