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In 1859 the popular velist Wilkie Collins wrote of a ghostly woman, dressed from head to toe in white garments, laying her cold, thin hand on the shoulder of a young man as he walked home late one evening. His vel The Woman in White became hugely successful and popularised a style of writing that came to be kwn as sensation fiction. This Companion highlights the energy, the impact and the inventiveness of the vels that were written in 'sensational' style, including the work of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Mrs Henry Wood and Florence Marryat. It contains fifteen specially-commissioned essays and includes a chrology and a guide to further reading. Accessible yet rigorous, this Companion questions what influenced the shape and texture of the sensation vel, and what its repercussions were both in the nineteenth century and up to the present day.
Dr Andrew Mangham is Lecturer in Victorian Literature and Culture at the University of Reading. He is the author of Violent Women and Sensation Fiction: Crime, Medicine and Victorian Popular Culture (2007).