Rhoda Broughton (29 November 1840 – 5 June 1920) was a novelist. Rhoda Broughton was born in Denbigh in North Wales on the 29th November 1840. She was the daughter of the Rev. Delves Broughton youngest son of the Rev. Sir Henry Delves-Broughton, 8th baronet. She developed a taste for literature, especially poetry, as a young girl. Her favourite writer was probably William Shakespeare, as the frequent quotations and allusions throughout her works indicate. Presumably after having read The Story of Elizabeth by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, she had the idea of trying her own talent and produced her first work within six weeks. Parts of this novel she took with her on a visit to her uncle Sheridan le Fanu, himself a successful author, who was highly pleased with it and assisted her in having it published. Her first two novels appeared in 1867 in his Dublin University Magazine. Le Fanu was also the one who introduced her to publisher Richard Bentley, who refused her first novel on the grounds of it being improper material, but accepted the second. Later on after having made her stretch her first effort to fit the popular three-decker form and to adapt it to the assumed taste of his readers, he also published the one he had at first refused. Their professional relationship was to last until the end of the Bentley publishing house, when it was taken over by Macmillan in the late 1890s. By then she had published 14 novels over a period of 30 years. Ten of these novels were of the three volume form, which she so detested and found hard to comply with. After the commercial failure of Alas!, for which she received her highest ever pay being at the height of her career, she decided to abandon the three-decker and to create one volume novels. This decision resulted in her writing her finest works. However, she never got rid of the reputation of creating fast heroines with easy morals, which was true enough for her early novels, and thus suffered from the idea of her work being merely slight and sensational. After the take-over she stuck with Macmillan and published another 6 novels there. By then her popularity was in decline. In a review published in The New York Times 12 May 1906 a certain K.Clark complains that her latest novel is so hard to procure and that one wonders why such a fine writer is so little appreciated. After 1910 she changed to Stanley, Paul & Co, where she had another three novels published. Her last one, A Fool In Her Folly (1920), was only printed posthumously with an introduction by her long-time friend and fellow writer Marie Belloc-Lowndes. It is likely that this work, which can be seen as partially autobiographical, was written at an earlier time but suppressed by herself for personal reasons. The story deals with the experiences of a young writer and reflects her own, like in her previous novel A Beginner. The manuscript is in her own handwriting, which is unusual, because some previous had been dictated to an assistant. Her final years were spent at Headington Hill, near Oxford where she died on the 5th June 1920, aged 79 years. Somerset Maugham, in his short story "The Round Dozen" (1924, also known as "The Ardent Bigamist") observes: "I remember Miss Broughton telling me once that when she was young people said her books were fast and when she was old they said they were slow, and it was very hard since she had written exactly the same sort of book for forty years". Rhoda Broughton never married, and some critics assume that a disappointed attachment was the impulse that made her try her pen instead of some other literary work like that of Mrs. Ritchie Thackeray. Much of her life she spent with her sister Mrs. Eleanor Newcome until the latter's death in Richmond in 1895. She therefore somehow stands in the tradition of great lady novelists like Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen or Susan Ferrier. But there are other merits that cause her to be placed in such high company. In his article on her Richard C. Tobias calls her "[...] the leading woman novelist in England between the death of George Eliot and the beginning of Virginia Woolf's career." He compares her work with other novelists of the time and concludes that hers reaches a much higher quality. Indeed her works of the 1890s and the early 20th century are fine novels and good fun to read. The Game and the Candle (1899) is like Jane Austen's Persuasion (1818) rewritten. Only this time the heroine has married for rational reasons and is freed in the beginning for her true love, which reason forbade her to marry years before. Her dying husband's last will forces her to decide between love and fortune. In the renewed encounter with her former lover, she, however, is forced to discover that it was actually a good thing she had not married him. His love turns to be too shallow for her happiness. The novel is one of a mature and wise woman who has seen the world. In A Beginner (1894) Broughton devices a young writer who has her work secretly published and then later torn apart by unknowing people right in front of her face. The novel deals with the moral issues of writing and whether it is appropriate for a young woman to write romantic or even erotic fiction. Scylla or Charybdis? (1895) has a mother hiding her infamous past from her son and obsessing about his love even to the extend of being jealous of other women, a plot slightly anticipating Lawrence's Sons and Lovers (1913). The novel questions social conventions in its revealing how destructive they can be to quiet people who might have once stepped aside from the proper path. In a different way the same criticism is being made in Foes in Law (1900), where the main question is which lifestyle is the one productive of the highest degree of happiness: the one according to convention or that according to one's own private needs. Her next novel, Dear Faustina (1897), deals with a heroine that is drawn to a girl of the New Woman type. This New Woman Faustina cares nothing for social conventions and dedicates her time to fight social injustice. Or so it seems at least at first sight, however, the reader gets the feeling that Faustina is more interested in getting to know and impressing other young women. That can also be interpreted as criticism of the New Woman. The homoerotic touch reappears in Lavinia (1902), but this time it is a young man who is frequently made to appear unmanly and even uttering the wish to have been born rather a woman. That novel also concerns itself with Britain's craze about war heroes. Very subtly it questions dominant notions of masculinity. Always a very important feature in every of her novels is the criticism of woman's role and position in society. Very often Broughton's women are strong characters and with them she manages to subvert traditional images of femininity. This culminates in A Waif's Progress (1905), in which Broughton creates a married couple who turns everything traditional upside down and the wife fulfills the stereotypes of an older, rich husband. During her lifetime Broughton was one of the Queens of the Circulating Libraries. Her fame and success was such, that some found it worthwhle to satirize her in works like "Groweth Down Like A Toadstool" or "Gone Wrong" by "Miss Rody Dendron." It is a pity we do not know how she took such things. Maybe she stood up to them like to people like Oscar Wilde or Lewis Carroll, who bore her no love. The latter is said to have declined an invitation because Broughton would be present. The former found a match in her when it came to ironical comments in Oxford society, where she was not liked much, either, due to her ridicule of that set in her novel Belinda (1883). Nevertheless, she also had many friends in literary circles, the most prominent of them being Henry James, with whom she stayed friends until his death in 1916. According to Helen C. Black James visited Broughton every evening, when they were both in London. Today most of her works are out of print and even the original ones are very hard to come by. Especially those published after 1900 are very hard to procure. The most frequently still read are her mysterious short stories. Her story "The Man with the Nose", narrated from a male viewpoint, is a masterpiece of subtle horror. The story's last sentence, quite innocent in itself, intensifies the horror of all that has previously occurred in this story.