In the Footsteps of Edward Bulwer-lytton's "Lucretia"Revisiting Victorian Popular Narratives of Madness
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The character of Bertha Mason in CharlotteBrontë’s Jane Eyrehas often been considered theparadigm of ‘the madwoman in the attic’; an archetypearising from Gothic domestic fictionthat would recur inlaterVictorian popular narratives and sensationalnovels,such as Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White(1859) – whichinaugurated Victorian sensationalism -, and MaryElizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret(1862) – whichconsolidated the genre. Nonetheless, it has rarely beennoticed that Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novelLucretia(1846), featuring a demented Victorian heiress as aresult of her upbringing in an eminently maleenvironment, was published one year before CharlotteBrontë’s novel, Jane Eyre(1847). This article aims atestablishing intertextual links between some of thesecanonical popular Victorian portrayalsof female madnessand Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novel Lucretiain order toprove the influence Bulwer-Lytton himself, as well ashisown personal life as a Victorian man of letters, exertedover them, thus recoveringnowadays the status EdwardBulwer-Lytton deserves as a Victorian novelist.