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Creating character – Theories of nature and nurture in Victorian sensation fiction - Manchester Scholarship Online
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Creating character: Theories of nature and nurture in Victorian sensation fiction

Helena Ifill


This book explores the range of ways in which the two leading sensation authors of the 1860s, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Wilkie Collins, engaged with nineteenth-century ideas about how the personality is formed and the extent to which it can be influenced either by the subject or by others. Innovative readings of Braddon’s and Collins’s sensation novels – some of them canonical, others less well-known – demonstrate how they reflect, employ, and challenge Victorian theories of heredity, degeneration, willpower, inherent constitution, education, insanity, upbringing and social circumstance. Far ... More

Keywords: Sensation novels, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, Insanity, Education, Degeneration, Responsibility, Heredity, Willpower, Self-Determinism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9781784995133
Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018 DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784995133.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Helena Ifill, author
member of the School of English at the University of Sheffield

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Part I Self-control, willpower and monomania

Part II Heredity and degeneration

Part III Education, environment and circumstance

End Matter