From “Vulgar” and “Impossible” to “Pre-Eminently Readable”: Richard Marsh's Critical Fortunes, 1893–1915

Minna Vuohelainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the critical fortunes of Richard Marsh (1857–1915), a best selling author of horror, crime, sensation, comic and romantic fiction. The paper charts the changing tone of reviews of Marsh's work as the author's popularity increased, his publication pattern stabilised and his publishers became more respectable. The focus of the paper will be on critical responses to Marsh's work in high-cultural reviews such as the Academy and the Athenaeum, which have been sampled as indicative of conservative views. The paper argues that after the publication of Marsh's best selling novel The Beetle: A Mystery in 1897, a clear shift is noticeable in reviews of his work from a dismissive attitude towards genre fiction to an appreciation of a recognised name within the niche market for sensational and romantic popular fiction. The paper charts this process of winning critical recognition for genre work, exploring the reasons for Marsh's shifting critical fortunes. In the process, it also traces the likely reception of other popular writers of the period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-301
Number of pages24
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number3
Early online date13 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


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