Lady Audley’s Secret

Braddon’s most famous novel falls firmly into the “sensation novel” genre, a group of Victorian texts which drew from Gothic themes, melodrama, and crime fiction to create shocking and scandalous texts. Lady Audley challenges traditional notions about the “angel in the house”: the supposedly safe, supportive, and submissive Victorian wife and mother. Lady Audley contradicts this archetype by turning the domestic space into a realm of terror. The novel features bigamy, murder, child abandonment, and other scandalous happenings; Braddon drew heavily from the real-life case of Constance Kent who, at age 16, murdered her younger half brother and, subsequently, gripped the British media for years. Braddon’s novel certainly makes a statement about the fallibility of relying on supposed “angels in the house” to maintain social order in the domestic sphere. Both characters in the text and real-life individuals frequently label Lady Audley as “mad”, but some feminist scholars believe that she is simply re-asserting her own desires and, finally (albeit destructively and dramatically), gaining control of her destiny.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A earlier edition of this text has been digitized and is available through the Internet Archive.

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1838-1915)
Lady Audley’s Secret
Reprint of the 1887 edition published by R.B. Davis, New York