• Publication Date: July 6, 2005
  • ISBN: 9781551115207 / 1551115204
  • 627 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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  • Publication Date: July 6, 2005
  • ISBN: 9781551115207 / 1551115204
  • 627 pages; 5½" x 8½"

First published in 1880, Moths addresses such Victorian taboos as adultery, domestic violence, and divorce in vivid and flamboyant prose. The beautiful young heroine, Vere Herbert, suffers at the hands of both her tyrannical mother and her dissipated husband, and is finally united with her beloved, a famous opera singer. Moths was Ouida’s most popular work, and its melodramatic plot, glamorous European settings, and controversial treatment of marriage make it an important, as well as a highly entertaining, example of the nineteenth-century “high society” novel.

This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a broad range of contextual documents, including contemporary reactions to Ouida’s fiction and a selection of nineteenth-century writings on marriage, feminism, and the aristocracy.


“This impressive edition of Ouida’s Moths brings a little-known novel by one of Victorian England’s most eccentric novelists to the attention of twenty-first-century readers. Natalie Schroeder’s helpful introduction situates the author and her work in their historical and cultural moment, while the appendices offer a rich selection of supplementary material. Most fascinating are the accompanying texts that document Victorian views of divorce and the ‘marriage market,’ a debate in which Ouida herself participated in paradoxical and controversial ways in both her fictional and journalistic writing. An excellent edition that is up to Broadview’s usual high standards.” — Lynn Voskuil, University of Houston

“Eccentric, extravagant, an incurable fantasist and lifelong dog-lover, Ouida was one of the most popular romantic novelists of the late Victorian age. Credited (perhaps wrongly) with naming the New Woman, Ouida produced numerous novels that show unconventional heroines struggling with convention in high society and exotic settings. This new edition of Moths provides an excellent introduction for the general reader, while its scholarly material on historical and social background, contemporary responses, and biographical detail provides an invaluable resource for specialists.” — Gail Cunningham, Kingston University

Ouida: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text


Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews of Moths

  1. The Athenæum 7 (February 1880)
  2. The Saturday Review49 (28 February 1880)
  3. The Westminster Review 113 (April 1880)
  4. The North American Review 285 ( July 1880)

Appendix B: The Novels of Society

  1. From Vincent E.H. Murray, “Ouida’s Novels,” The Contemporary Review 22 (1878)
  2. From “Contemporary Literature,” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 125 (March 1879)
  3. From Harriet Waters Preston,“Ouida,” The Atlantic Monthly 58 (1886)
  4. From [Oscar Wilde],“Ouida’s New Novel,” Pall Mall Gazette (May 1889)
  5. From Ouida,“The Sins of Society,” Views and Opinions (1895)

Appendix C: Contemporary Responses to Ouida

  1. From Ella, “Ouida,” The Victoria Magazine 28 (March 1877)
  2. From “The ‘Whitehall’ Portraits. XCVIII.—Ouida,” The Whitehall Review (5 October 1878)
  3. From Marie Corelli,“A Word about ‘Ouida,’” Belgravia 71 (March 1890)
  4. From G.S. Street,“An Appreciation of Ouida,” The Yellow Book 6 ( July 1895)
  5. From Willa Cather,“The Passing Show,” The Courier (23 November 1895)
  6. From Max Beerbohm,“Ouida,” More (1899)
  7. Obituary, The Times (27 January 1908)

Appendix D: Marriage and Divorce in the Nineteenth Century

  1. Ouida on The Marriage Market and her “Philosophy of Marriage”
    1. From Granville de Vigne (1863)
    2. From Princess Napraxine (1884)
    3. From Guilderoy (1889)
  2. From George H. Lewis, “Marriage and Divorce,” The Fortnightly Review 37 (1885)
  3. From Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854)
  4. Reports of Divorce Cases, 1884
    1. Cranfield v. Cranfield, The Times, 4 April 1884
    2. Wilson v. Wilson, Grille, and Morley, The Times, 10 May 1884
    3. Stent v. Stent and Low, The Times, 19 June 1884
  5. From Mona Caird, “Marriage,” The Westminster Review (August 1888)
  6. From Marie Corelli, “The Modern Marriage Market,” The Lady’s Realm (April 1897)

Appendix E: Ouida and the New Woman Debate

  1. From Eliza Lynn Lynton,“The Shrieking Sisterhood,” The Saturday Review (12 March 1870)
  2. From Sarah Grand,“The New Aspect of the Woman Question,” The North American Review 158 (March 1894)
  3. From Ouida,“The New Woman,” The North American Review 158 (May 1894)
  4. From Mrs. M. Eastwood,“The New Woman in Fiction and in Fact,” The Humanitarian 5 (1894)
  5. From Ouida,“Female Suffrage,” Views and Opinions (1895)
  6. From Mrs. Morgan-Dockrell, “Is the New Woman a Myth?” The Humanitarian 8 (1896)

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Natalie Schroeder is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Mississippi.