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Richard Marsh

Richard Bernard Heldmann (1857–1915), who wrote under the pen name Richard Marsh, was a bestselling, versatile, and prolific author of gothic, crime, adventure, romance, and comic fiction. His greatest success came in 1897 with the publication of The Beetle: A Mystery, a novel that articulated many of the key themes of late–nineteenth century urban gothic writing and outsold its closest rival, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, well into the twentieth century. This book, the first specifically on Marsh’s work, establishes his credentials as a literary force within the late–nineteenth century gothic revival and offers significant and nuanced readings of his literary production beyond The Beetle.

208 pages | 2 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015

Gothic Authors: Critical Revisions

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

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“Vuohelainen’s book opens up the treasure chest that is Richard Marsh’s fin-de-siècle gothic writing and shows convincingly how his tremendously influential The Beetle, as well as a host of other novels and short stories by the author, negotiates the dark and uncanny spaces of the turn-of-the-century urban landscape. Meticulously researched, theoretically precise, and yet immensely readable, this book is a very welcome study of one of the most sorely neglected writers of the period, and a useful contribution to the understanding of how spatiality is constructed in gothic writing.”

John Höglund, Linnaeus University, Sweden

“The author demonstrates that any consideration of fin-de-siècle gothic is incomplete without Richard Marsh. This book will change for good how we conceptualize the fin-de-siècle canon—Vuohelainen’s exploration of space and place in Marsh’s novels brings out a crucial dimension to the fin-de-siècle literary experience.”

Daniel Orrells, Warwick University

“Vuohelainen’s study brings welcome attention to the multifaceted Richard Marsh, a figure whose importance to fin-de-siècle and Edwardian literary culture is increasingly now being recognized. This absorbing book makes a powerful case for considering gothic fictions of the period in the light of spatial theory, and in so doing opens up new ways of thinking the relations between popular fiction and literary modernism that will capture the imaginations of scholars and students of both.”

Victoria Margree, University of Brighton

Table of Contents


1. ‘Exactly Where I was I could not Tell’: Panopticism, Imageability, and the Gothic City

2. ‘The Key of the Street’: Displacement, Transit and Gothic Flux

3. Houses of Mystery: Liminal Thresholds and Gothic Interiors

4. Laughing in the Face of the Authorities: Haunting and Heterotopia in Richard Marsh’s Short Supernatural Fiction




Primary: volumes

Primary: periodical publication

Primary: archival sources


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