It’s been all work and no play here recently, so thank you to OUP for cheering me up with a couple of review copies. The first is a handsome new edition of Black Beauty edited by Adrienne Gavin. Gavin also wrote an excellent biography of Anna Sewell, amusingly named Dark Horse, which I thoroughly recommend. In the introduction, she explores the ways in which the novels has been read: as accessible horse-care manual, protest novel, feminist text, autobiography, slave narrative, and classic animal story. I reviewed Black Beauty last year, but will read it again with the benefit of this insightful critical material.
The second book is Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, which I’ve also read before. Even though it was written in the twentieth century, I did actually enjoy it enormously, possibly because I have a weakness for unreliable narrators. This edition includes an introduction by Max Saunders and Ford’s essay ‘On Impressionism’.
Speaking of my tentative steps into the Modern World, Victorian Secrets is poised to acknowledge that some good books were published after 1901. We’re setting up a new imprint called ‘Twentieth Century Vox’, and the first title off the presses will be Elizabeth Robins’ suffragette novel The Convert, edited by Emelyne Godfrey. Publication will coincide with events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Cat and Mouse Act and I might even wear a sash.
I’m currently in the middle of biography season, having just published books on Jerome K. Jerome (another palindromic author) and Dame Clara Butt. The first biography we published – on Eugen Sandow – continues to attract attention and even made an appearance on the BBC website this week. I’m now wondering whether I should put a naked German on the cover of all my books.
Anyway, once the current batch of books have gone to press, I shall treat myself to another Trollope and write some more reviews.
Out now: The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell's Fiction, a beautifully written study of this Victorian author's novels.