Is He Popenjoy?
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Introduction by David Skilton
London, Chapman and Hall, 1878. 3v.
Originally published in All the Year Round, Oct. 13, 1877 – July 13, 1878.
The dissolute, childless Marquis of Brotherton has long lived abroad in Italy. Ensconced at his estate in England, Manor Cross, is his family, including his younger brother Lord George Germain. The local Dean Mr Lovelace has a beautiful daughter Mary, to whom Lord George proposes, both families being eager for the match. After the marriage, the present Marquis sends news that he has himself mysteriously married and produced an heir, a ‘Popenjoy’, and is to return to Manor Cross. Doubts over Popenjoy’s legitimacy force the Dean and Lord George to establish the true facts.
This brilliant work manages to be witty and passionate yet particularly – in its depiction of the syphilitic Marquis – also dark and bitter. For those who have tended to overlook this novel, its discovery should come as a revelation.