Mary Elizabeth Braddon

The sensational novel Lady Audley’s Secret was written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. The story is about Robert Audley and his quest to probe into his friend George Talboy’s disappearance, leading him to question who the true identity of Lady Audley, formerly known as Lucy Graham. It begins with Lucy marrying Robert’s uncle, Sir Michael Audley, and the return of George to England after spending three years in Australia.

Saddened by the death of his wife, George is a figure of distress. To cheer him up, Robert brings George to meet his uncle. Though the present wife of Sir Audley makes efforts to avoid both George and Robert, they still catch a glimpse of the woman through a portrait that is shown to them by Robert’s cousin. George shows a rather alarming reaction to the portrait but does not say anything about it. Shortly thereafter, he disappears.

As the story further unfolds, Robert discovers that Lucy Audley is not who she makes herself out to be. She is a lying and scheming woman who was actually George’s “dead” wife Helen! The story continues with Lucy trying to cover her tracks by trying to kill Robert and confessing to killing George. Claiming insanity, she told about how she plotted to leave her old life behind to find a better one with a wealthy husband. The story ends with Lucy being admitted into an insane asylum, George reappearing, and Robert marrying George’s sister.

Here are some sources for the book:

  • Librivox: Audio version of Lady Audley’s Secret with links to e-text.
  • Project Gutenberg: A free online version of Lady Audley’s Secret.
  • Fullbooks: Another free online version of Lady Audley’s Secret.

About Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Mary Elizabeth Braddon was born in London on October 4, 1837 and died on February 4, 1915. Best known for “Lady Audley’s Secret” which she penned in 1862, she was an actress before eventually becoming a writer. Braddon lived with a publisher from 1861 until 1874 when she married John Maxwell after his wife had died in an insane asylum. In total, she authored 75 novels.

Victorian Ideals behind Lady Audley’s Secret

A sensational novel of the Victorian era, Lady Audley’s Secret exposes the vanity of the people who placed such high value in appearances. The new Lady Audley “was the sweetest girl that ever lived.” Yet, looks and manners can be pretty deceiving. The domestic front is not as safe as it may seem. Here, the author plays on the idea that not everybody who looks like the ideal mother or wife is actually ideal. What is revealed and what is hidden can be rather different.

Here are some other comments on Lady Audley’s Secret:

  • Victorian Web: Comparison between Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Lady Audley’s Secret.
  • Hausarbeiten: An in-depth study of Braddon’s Lady Audley Secret and Aurora Floyd in light of Victorian femininity.

Movies Based on Lady Audley’s Secret

If you find that you are too lazy to read the book, you can watch some of the movies based on the book as well.

Though Lady Audley’s Secret was written more than a century ago, the messages are still relevant today, especially in these times when people rely so heavily on online dating services.

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