Small image of a man handing a book to a women across a counter.

At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: Eglantine

Author and Title: Eliza Tabor Stephenson. Eglantine

First Edition: London: Hurst and Blackett, 1875. 3 volumes, post 8vo., 31s 6d.

Summary: The story is narrated by Dora, the daughter of a mathematician who lives in Cove Rossington, a coastal community in the north of England. Years earlier, her father left his professorship at Cambridge to live near the sea for his wife's health but remained after her death. Dora assists her father by making scientific woodcuts to illustrate his books. When she is eighteen, she meets the sea captain Rae Morrison. He returns a year later and stays in the village for a few months spending most of his time with Dora—and the two fall in love. However, Morrison leaves at the end of his vacation without saying goodbye to Dora. Her father reveals that Morrison asked for her hand but he refused since Morrison did not have a settled life and Dora was too young. (Though the actual reason seems to be her father's fear of losing her.) Dora's mood improves with the arrival of the widow Mrs. Wear and her young daughter Eglantine. Over the next few years, Dora's aunt Lois dies, Dora contracts smallpox, and Dora's father loses his investments after a bank fails. The biggest change comes when coal and iron are discovered on the neighboring estate and the town sees an influx of miners and their families. In addition, the architect Mr. Surbiton and his widowed sister Mrs. Ullathorne move to the town as well—the latter is a class-conscious social butterfly with two children Ted and Birdie. Another new arrival is the clergyman John Elphinston serving as a curate for the absent rector. His earnest sermons (hinted as being Low Church in content) attract the workmen of the town and scandalize the upper crust. Elphinston boards with Dora and her father where he comes to meet Eglantine. They fall in love and eventually marry when Elphinston get the Cove Rossington living. Morrison eventually returns after retiring and, at age thirty three, Dora marries him. (TJB)

References: BL; EC