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Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-First Century

Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Brenda Ayres & Sarah E. Maier

‘Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-First Century’ is a collection of essays about a novelist who once was the ‘second most famous Englishwoman in the world’ after Queen Victoria and whose books broke every previous sales record. The essays account for Corelli’s popularity and reintroduce her to a new generation of readers.

Hardback, 234 Pages


April 2019

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

With the purpose of introducing Marie Corelli to a new generation of readers and of reconsidering her works for generations familiar with them, ‘Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-First Century’ demonstrates how provocative Corelli was as a public figure and how controversial and paradoxical were the views about womanhood and the supernatural pitched in her novels. This collection of original essays focuses on three major battles that engaged Corelli: her personal and public contentions, her mercurial constructions of gender and resistance to the New Woman modality and her untenable reconciliation of science with the supernatural. Corelli was often fighting several fronts at the same time; she rarely was not at war with someone including herself.


“The fascination of Marie Corelli for scholars caught a wave in the 1990s, and is still going strong. Almost a century after her death, this new collection of essays presents Corelli in a fresh light––as woman, fighter, writer, popular philosopher and media star.”
—Annette R. Federico, Professor of English, James Madison University, USA

“Insightful and detailed, Reinventing Marie Corelli for the Twenty-First Century offers new perspectives on the complex writing career of one of England’s most successful novelists. This fascinating collection of essays is an outstanding resource for seasoned Corelli scholars, long-time fans and those who are new readers of her work.”
—Sharla Hutchison, Professor of English, Fort Hays State University, USA

“A collection that treats the complex figure of Marie Corelli with nuance and sophistication. The contributions foreground Corelli as an influential author, activist and social commentator who engaged provocatively and controversially with the era’s debates about gender, spirituality, science, cultural heritage and the role of art in the modern age.”
—Kirsten MacLeod, Lecturer, Newcastle University, UK

Author Information

Brenda Ayres teaches graduate and undergraduate programs in English, professional writing and education at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA. She has published extensively on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature with her most recent being Victorians and Their Animals: Beast on a Leash (2018), Biographical Misrepresentations of British Women Writers: A Hall of Mirrors and the Long Nineteenth Century (2017) and Betwixt and Between: The Biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft (2017). Ayres has also published articles on Corelli in several edited volumes including Silent Voices: Forgotten Novels by Victorian Women Writers (2003).

Sarah E. Maier teaches English & Comparative Literature at the University of New Brunswick, Canada. She has published scholarly editions of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Bram Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud as well as articles on the work of J. M. Barrie, C. Bronte, E. D’Arcy, G. Eliot, J. K. Rowling, M. Wollstonecraft and others. The recipient of several teaching awards including the Dr. Allan P. Stuart Award for Excellence in Teaching (2003), Maier was appointed University Teaching Scholar in 2006.


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Table of Contents

Introduction, Brenda Ayres and Sarah E. Maier; 1. Stratford-upon-Avon’s ‘Great Little Lady’, Nick Leigh Birch; 2. From ‘Girl Alone’ to ‘Genius’: Corelli’s Transforming Epistolary Rhetoric, Colleen Morrissey; 3. Marie Corelli, the Public Sphere and Public Opinion, Julia Kuehn; 4. ‘The Muses Are Women; So Are the Fates’: Corelli’s Literary Masquerade(s), Sarah E. Maier; 5. The Devil & Miss Corelli: Re-gendering the Diabolical and the Redemptive in ‘The Sorrows of Satan’, Julianne Smith; 6. Muscular Christianity Unbound: Masculinity in ‘Ardath’, Gareth Hadyk-DeLodder; 7. Over Her (Un)dead Body: Gender Politics, Mediumship and Feminist Spiritual Theology in the Works of Marie Corelli, Carol Margaret Davison; 8. ‘The Story of a Dead Self’: The Theosophical Novels of Marie Corelli, Brenda Ayres; 9. ‘Something Vile in the Composition’: Marie Corelli’s ‘Ziska’, Decadent Portraiture and the New Woman, Angie Blumberg; Index.

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