Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction 1900-14
New Voices in the Age of Uncertainty
'This oozing, bulging wealth of the English upper and upper-middle classes.' This was how George Orwell saw the Edwardian period. What images do we see when we think of that era? Ladies munching delicately on cucumber sandwiches? Gentlemen in straw boaters punting gently down rivers? Looking at the authors and authoresses of this time and the things that they wrote about, it seems that there is more to that era than this chocolate-box image of long, lazy summer afternoons would imply. In fact the Edwardian period was a time of much anxiety and insecurity about the changes that were taking place and the ideas that were emerging, and the fiction which arose from them serves as evidence for this. In this unique guide, described as 'a tremendous achievement' by the TLS, literature scholars Sandra Kemp, Charlotte Mitchell, and David Trotter explore the broad sweep of writing that emerged from the early 20th century. Now available in paperback, the Companion offers a wealth of information on the writers, the works, the themes, and the ideas of this fascinating literary era. From Walter Besant's The Fourth Generation, to James Joyce's Dubliners, the Companion doesn't merely centre on works from the Edwardian period but also explores those whose fiction influenced writers at the start of the period and those who took those writers' themes and ideas up to the next level. It also provides details on some of the now neglected and forgotten gems that came from that era. Around 800 authors are covered and there are also entries on some of the most significant novels of the period. An unprecedented number of women began to publish at this time and they represent nearly half of the author-entries in the Companion. There are also entries on the themes and genres that emerged. This was a period when the urban middle and lower classes became not only the subject of fiction but also a substantial part of its readership. Never before had novels been so cheap to buy (and produce). Entries include: Writers: Alice and Claude Askew, J. M. Barrie, Max Beerbohm, M. McDonnell Bodkin, G. K. Chesterton, Walter de la Mare, Ethel M. Dell, A. Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy, Jerome K Jerome, Rudyard Kipling, Oliver Onions, Baroness Orczy, H. G. Wells Publications: The Albany Review, The Athenaeum, Contemporary Review, The Cornhill Magazine, The English Review, The New Age, Pall Mall Magazine Works: Anna of the Five Towns, The Country House, The Dark Flower, The Golden Bowl, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Lord Jim, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, The Railway Children, The Secret Garden, The White Peacock Themes: Boer War, crime fiction, exoticism, family sagas, fantasy, feminist fiction, historical romance, invasion scare stories, marriage problem novels, regional fiction, suburban life Other: literary agents, publishers In addition to the A-Z entries, there is a chronology charting major historical and cultural events, a list of books frequently consulted, and a very useful index of pseudonyms and changes of name.
Sandra Kemp is currently Director of Research, Royal College of Art. Charlotte Mitchell is Lecturer in English, University College London. David Trotter is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature, University College London.