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  1. For a extraordinary contemporary take on the figure of the Victorian performer, mostly variety + musical hall, who, in her characterization, consistently engages in ever-evolving narratives about her career, mapping, with especially vividness, her journey into the creation of a wide range of self-invented “stage” characters, performative self-fashioning, remarkably protean, beginning with Lambeth Marsh Lizzie, morphing into Older Brother, thence into Little Victoria’s Daughter, I recommend Peter Ackroyd’s DAN LENO & THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM (2007). I am on page 109 of a total of 282, and am eager to learn how she not only resists predatory patriarchs who make their living as she does, but also her horrific husband, whom, it seems certain by now, she murders, perhaps with rat poison, because he is a monster, non-redeemable, and thus a departure from some melodramatic typologies. Self-educated, very smart, very feisty, she is, so far, a match for those who interrogate her during her trial, parts of which occur as discontinuous chapters throughout. His name is Mr Cree: it is he who is responsible for a roster of Jack The Ripper-type murders, in which, with cool thoroughness, he dissects his victims, lovely body part by lovely body part. It would seem that our actress-novelist-metanarrative-creator is eventually found guilty of his murder of and dies in a very disturbing scene by hanging. I hope the novel doesn’t betray itself by compromising her agency; perhaps it will, perhaps it won’t: in either case it seems to belong in the company of the novels you recommend, which I look forward to reading. Sub-genre? Neglected? Nonsense: only if they are allowed to be occluded for nefarious reasons. Thanks to you (and others) for rescuing them from the dust bin of history! I look forward to reading your scholarship.

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