College of Arts and Sciences

The Mysterious Identity of Helen Dickens, Victorian Novelist

First Mondays Series

Troy Bassett, assistant professor of English

Troy Bassett, English & LinguisticsMarch 4, 2013
Noon - 1:15 p.m.
SB 168

Victorian novelist Helen Dickens published five sensation novels between 1872 and 1881: but was she any relation to Charles Dickens?  Up until now, this author has remained completely forgotten, barely noticed by her contemporaries and ignored by later generations.  This presentation explores the methods for determining authorship and considers the evidence—including genealogical records, letters, reviews, and the novels themselves—to attempt to answer the literary mystery of her identity.  Charles Dickens’s brother Alfred married a woman named Helen Dobson.  Could the unknown author have been the sister-in-law of the famous novelist?  Or is this a clever marketing ploy by the publisher?