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Writers, Readers, and ReputationsLiterary Life in Britain 1870-1918$
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Philip Waller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.001.0001

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The Demonic Dreamer: Marie Corelli

The Demonic Dreamer: Marie Corelli

Chapter:
(p.767) 22 The Demonic Dreamer: Marie Corelli
Source:
Writers, Readers, and Reputations
Author(s):

Philip Waller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.003.0022

Marie Corelli was Hall Caine's jealous rival as best-seller for several decades. Like him, she had an extraordinarily high opinion of herself and believed she had created a literature to last along with Shakespeare, whom she idolised. Because of Shakespeare she chose to reside in Stratford-on-Avon where she equally attracted worshippers and sight-seers. Corelli's overwrought style and unbounded imagination drew countless readers as well as critical derision: she maintained a long-running feud against reviewers whom she felt envied her genius. She affected to despise publicity while courting it. Her novels involved the summoning up of fantasy worlds of pseudo- science combined with spiritualism. They were also replete with denunciations of what she considered contemporary vices: the hypocrisies of aristocratic society, toadying to royalty, women marrying for money and title, New Women, the sexual double standard, gossip, secular education, corrupt critics, and so forth. She herself held many of the ugly prejudices of her day, including anti-Semitism. A popular lecturer, she was an outspoken anti-suffragist while at the same time a notably independent woman.

Keywords:   best-seller, science, spiritualism, anti-Semitism, secular education, marie Corelli

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