On 1 February 1859 literary history was made with the publication of a novel called Adam Bede. Achorus of critical acclaim followed in periodicals across the political spectrum as, moving from left to right, the Westminster Review, the Athenaeum and the Saturday Review all trumpeted their approval. E.S. Dallas’s review in The Times is representative of the predominant tone with its opening declaration that ‘there can be no mistake about Adam Bede. It is a first-rate novel, and its author takes rank at once among the masters of the art’. Charles Dickens wrote a letter of praise, as did Jane Welsh Carlyle, while Queen Victoria’s admiration was such that she commissioned paintings of two scenes from the novel.
David Amigoni, Simon Avery, Alexis Easley, Pam Hirsch, Tim Marshall, Andrew Maunder, Marie Mulvey-Roberts, John Plunkett, and Valerie Sanders
Notes on contributors