Course | Marriage, Murder, and the Madhouse: Victorian Sensation Fiction, or, 19th Century Bestsellers You May Have Missed [In Progress]

Registration Price Qty
Tuitionshow details + $300.00 (USD)   Expired
Delancey Society Tuitionshow details + $270.00 (USD)   Expired
Member Tuitionshow details + $270.00 (USD)   Expired

Date / Time

  • February 8, 2020
    2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States



The bestselling novels of the Victorian era are not what you think they are.

Beneath the appearance of public respectability, the Victorians devoured novels of mystery, bigamy, madness, the supernatural, seductions, arsonists, and addicts. These now-forgotten novels kept the Victorians reading far into the night, too terrified to blow out the bedside candle. This genre, known as Sensation Fiction, became the best-selling, blockbuster novels of the 19th Century and outsold Dickens, Trollope, and the Brontes. We’ll discuss Victorian pop culture, gender, class, the ’New Woman author’ and the Victorians’ obsession with good people behaving badly. We’ll end the semester with Sarah Waters new Sensation novel, Fingersmith, to examine Sensation Fiction’s legacy in contemporary fiction. If you register, please read the first half of The Woman in White for our first meeting.

Required books (Broadview Press editions of these novels are recommended).

  • The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
  • East Lynne, by Mrs Henry Wood
  • Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters


syllabus Marriage Murder Madhouse

About the Instructor

Curt Herr, PhD, teaches Victorian literature at Kutztown University and is the co-editor of The Journal of Dracula Studies.

About Rosenbach Courses

Revisit beloved classics or experience new ones with Rosenbach courses. Book lovers delve into fiction, history, and poetry with the guidance of a literary expert and the company of other readers. See all upcoming courses.