They’re some of our favourite Victorian authors: Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad. But what were their favourite reads?
Recently I’ve been looking at issues of The Academy, which ran a series of Christmastime features between the mid 1890s and 1903 on ‘Favourite Books.’ The editor C. Lewis Hind explained that:
‘We have sent to a number of well-known men and women, both literary and practical, a request that they would name the two books which, during the past year, they have read with the most interest and pleasure.’
The feature is a great little insight into Victorian reading habits and trends. Here are some of the highlights:
Arthur Conan Doyle
In 1899 the author of Sherlock Holmes listed his favourite novels as:
Bernard Hamilton’s The Light
Frank Norris’s McTeague: A Story of San Francisco
Yes, I know…I had to look these up too. Boy howdy, though, does Conan Doyle enjoy the melodrama.
The Light has been described as ‘”Love melodrama and religious discussions, with a hint of reincarnation’ (Suvin). M’kaaay. I’m also told that the novel’s climax takes place against the backdrop of the Franco-Prussian War. Such melo. Much drama. Continue reading “The Favourite Books of Arthur Conan Doyle (and others)”