Lady Isabel Carlyle, a beautiful and refined young woman, leaves her hard-working but neglectful lawyer-husband and her infant children to elope with an aristocratic suitor. After he deserts her, and she bears their illegitimate child, Lady Isabel disguises herself and takes the position of governess in the household of her husband and his new wife.
East Lynne is the archetypal sensation novel, filled with disaster, guilt and repentance. It also documents the growing protest against the rigid roles prescribed for Victorian women. Among the many appendices included are a selection of Victorian medical views on men, women, and sexuality.
“This is a splendid edition. Its introduction is an authoritative and up to date guide to the novel and its context. A generous and judicious selection of contemporary reviews of East Lynne and the sensation novel further amplify the context, and provide an excellent resource for students.” — Lyn Pykett, University of Wales-Aberystwyth
“In his introduction, Andrew Maunder suggests that East Lynne may be ‘one of the most famous unread works in the English language.’ This immensely readable and teachable edition should help to preserve its fame while increasing its readership. Maunder locates the novel in its various contexts—social, historical, and literary—focusing especially on the material conditions of the novel’s publication, and the various “woman questions” of the middle nineteenth century. The supplemental materials are thorough and well-chosen, and for the selections from T. A. Palmer’s theatrical adaptation alone, the Broadview edition would be my choice for teaching.” — Elisabeth Rose Gruner, University of Richmond