A novel of sensation is a form of fiction that had some vogue from c. 1860 onwards. As the term suggests, the themes and actions of the novels of sensation were improbable, melodramatic, and lurid. The guilty secret was a favorite theme.
One of the forerunners among the authors was Mrs Clive (1801-73), who published Paul Ferroll in 1855 and Why Paul Ferroll Killed His Wife in 1860. Mrs. Clive died sensationally, being burnt to death while she was writing in her boudoir.
The other well-known examples of the novel of sensation are Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860), Mrs Henry Wood’s East Lynne (1861), and Mary Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (1862). Mary Braddon wrote over seventy sensation novels, many of which are lurid accounts of crime and violence. It is more than likely that the novel of sensation was eventually influenced the evolution of the thriller and the detective story.
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