Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
British fiction is no doubt the parent of American fiction, and from the passion for the Victorian novel in Britain came the blossoming of novels here in the late 1800s. Building on the work of such early novelists as Sir Walter Scott, who idealized the past, Charles Dickens added sentimentality and intimacy in his novels with their sharp criticisms of English culture. These hallmarks of British novels made their way across the water and influenced the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and a little later Bret Harte and Mark Twain. American women were also writing novels, although we hear more about the poet Emily Dickinson than we do series novelists such as Martha Finley, author of the Millie Keith books (1876).
But we Americans still like to read British novels, and most of us know enough British history to appreciate a novel set in the Britain of yesterday. The great craze for anything by or about or related to Jane Austen proves it. How many of you have read Pride and Prejudice (1813) or Emma (1816)? The hallmarks of those early British novels remain true of historical novels written today–the love triangle, the mistaken identity, the separation caused by class distinction, and the terrible illness. Many titles by George MacDonald come to mind, and one more recent title is The Courtship of the Vicar’s Daughter by American author Lawana Blackwell (2007).
Who are your favorite British novelists (either from another era or who are writing historicals today)?