chapter  Chapter 1
16 Pages

Regicide and Reginamania: G.W.M. Reynolds and The Mysteries of London

WithJohn Plunkett

In G. W. M. Reynolds’s The Mysteries of London, one of the most popular fictional series of the 1840s, a mad infatuation with Victoria even fed into the ultimate crime of attempted regicide. One of the most striking elements of the initial sentiment surrounding Victoria is that it was widely believed to stem from the ubiquitous dissemination of her image. The Mysteries of London enacts the excess of infatuation through the actions of its characters, and consequently draws the reader into its melodramatic potency. The portrayal of Victoria’s attractiveness nevertheless exists in tandem with a strident antimonarchism. Reginamania is shown to lead to regicide as Reynolds reworks the assassination attempt of Edward Oxford in the same way as the Boy Jones stories. The dramatization of the attempted regicide of a reigning monarch, even if the readership were already aware of its failure, embodies Reynolds’s inssurectionary impulse.