The Beetle
  • Publication Date: April 30, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551114439 / 1551114437
  • 364 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Beetle

  • Publication Date: April 30, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551114439 / 1551114437
  • 364 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The Beetle (1897) tells the story of a fantastical creature, “born of neither god nor man,” with supernatural and hypnotic powers, who stalks British politician Paul Lessingham through fin de siècle London in search of vengeance for the defilement of a sacred tomb in Egypt. In imitation of various popular fiction genres of the late nineteenth century, Marsh unfolds a tale of terror, late imperial fears, and the “return of the repressed,” through which the crisis of late imperial Englishness is revealed.

This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a rich selection of historical documents that situate the novel within the contexts of fin de siècle London, England’s interest and involvement in Egypt, the emergence of the New Woman, and contemporary theories of mesmerism and animal magnetism.

Academics please note that this is a title classified as having a restricted allocation of complimentary copies. While the availability of bound complimentary copies is restricted to desk copies only, electronic complimentary copies are readily available for those professors wishing to consider this title for possible course adoption. Should you choose to adopt the book after viewing an electronic copy we will be happy to provide a bound desk copy.


The Beetle has it all: it’s at once a ripping gothic yarn, a fin de siècle melodrama, and a document of the fears and obsessions of late imperial culture. Julian Wolfreys’ introduction is excellent, bringing lots of fascinating material to bear on the novel and doing so clearly and persuasively. He makes you want to read it.” — Jonathan Dollimore, author of Sexual Dissidence and Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture

The Beetle is a great read. As Julian Wolfreys’ admirably learned, perceptive, and comprehensive introduction, appendices, and notes show, it is also a wonderful assemblage of many motifs from popular culture at the fin de siècle. I enthusiastically recommend this book.” — J. Hillis Miller, University of California, Irvine

“For far too long we have had to do without an edition of one of the key best-selling novels of the fin de siècle, Richard Marsh’s The Beetle. Broadview has once again come to the rescue with a new edition of this lurid classic that at one time outsold Dracula. Featuring useful appendices and with an extensive introduction by Julian Wolfreys, this edition will be coveted by everyone interested in late Victorian fiction.” — Nicholas Daly, Trinity College, Dublin

Richard Marsh: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Beetle

Appendix A: London in the fin de siècle

  1. From Walter Besant, All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882)
  2. From Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
  3. From Henry James, “London” (1888)
  4. From Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)
  5. From Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
  6. From Arthur Machen, The Three Impostors (1895)
  7. From Arthur Morrison, A Child of the Jago (1896)

Appendix B: The New Woman

  1. From Ouida, “The New Woman,” North American Review (May 1894)
  2. From Sarah Grand, “The New Aspect of the Woman Question,” North American Review (March 1894)
  3. From Nat Arling, “What is the Rôle of the ‘New Woman?’,” Westminster Review (November 1898)
  4. From Kathleen Caffe, “A Reply from Daughters,” The Nineteenth Century (March 1894)

Appendix C: English Interest and Involvement in Egypt

  1. From Georgia Louise Leonard, “The Occult Sciences in the Temples of Ancient Egypt,” The Open Court (1887)
  2. From J.Norman Lockyer, “The Astronomy and Mythology of the Ancient Egyptians,” The Nineteenth Century (July 1892)
  3. From “Egypt,” London Quarterly Review (April 1884)
  4. From “Our Position in Egypt,” The Speaker (19 October 1891)

Appendix D: Mesmerism and Animal Magnetism

  1. From Joseph W. Haddock, Somnolism & Psycheism; or, the Science of the Soul and the Phenomena of Nervation, as Revealed by Vital Magnetism or Mesmerism, Considered Physiologically and Philosophically, with Notes of Mesmeric and Psychical Experience (1851)
  2. From James Esdaile, Natural and Mesmeric Clairvoyance, with the Practical Application of Mesmerism in Surgery and Medicine (1852)
  3. From “Magic and Mesmerism,” Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, 50 (1843)
  4. From Romulus Katscher, “Mesmerism, Spiritualism and Hypnotism,” The Literary Digest (21 February 1891)

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Julian Wolfreys is a Professor of English at the University of Florida, Gainsville.