The publication history of the novel
Jennifer Carnell

The first edition of the Oscar Wilde inspired novel, published by Hutchinson & Co. of London in 1905.

The American 1905 edition, distributed by the New York publisher Brentano's.

Mrs. Cashel Hoey, 'Pages in Waiting: A Glance at Miss Braddon's Work,' World, 25 April 1905.

Although Mrs. Hoey's article is about The Rose of Life, she begins by praising Braddon's early work, and marvels at how up-to-date she is with her later novels, commenting, now 'the rescuing god must get out of a motor-car.' She goes on to note Braddon's interest in and use of French literature, 'To the sickening commonness and boredom which developed the vileness of Madame Bovary we owe Miss Braddon's charming story The Doctor's Wife, and Mount Royal is an adaptation of the motif of Le Baron Trepasse to a far more interesting and picturesque novel.' Mrs. Cashel Hoey makes no mention of Oscar Wilde, on whom the central character of The Rose of Life is clearly based.

'The Rose of Life,' Athenaeum, 27 May 1905.

The mighty influence of the Zeitgeist is plainly discernible in this latest work of the veteran novelist. Thirty years ago it would have seemed unlikely that Miss Braddon would ever write a novel depending for interest less on plot than characterisation, yet such is the enterprise which she has here, not unsuccessfully achieved. The popular poet, with his attractive egotism, his ready, though chiefly vicarious philanthropy, and his genuine superiority to snobbishness and all its works, is well conceived, and so harmoniously developed that when he is detected in the act of swindling one of his best friends, the disclosure though dramatically unexpected, does not strike us as inconsistent with what we already know of him. His simple-minded, devoted wife is also good in her way, and has the merit, rare in that particular type of woman, of conciliating sympathy rather than rousing irritation. The villains, male and female, the heroine and the titular here are none of them of much account, and the device of the bigamous marriage scarcely appeals to us as it did in the days when it was a comparatively new thing in fiction.
(Please note that transcripts were originally made as rough research notes by Jennifer Carnell and that anyone wanting to quote them in their own work is advised to consult the original for complete accuracy.)

The Literary Lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon by Jennifer Carnell (Biography)



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