‘[T]he work of a she-devil’: Sensation Fiction, Crime Writing, and Caroline Clive’s Paul Ferroll

  • Adrienne E. GavinEmail author
Part of the British Women’s Writing from Brontë to Bloomsbury, 1840-1940 book series (BWWFBB, volume 1)


This chapter explores Caroline Clive’s 1855 novel Paul Ferroll in terms of sensation fiction and crime writing. A bestseller praised for its power, originality, and ‘masculine’ style, the novel was equally notorious for its absence of moral judgement upon its gentleman protagonist, who escapes legal and poetic justice for the murders he commits and shows no remorse for his crimes. Judged extra shocking because of its female authorship, the book’s amorality was boundary-breaking. Arguing for Paul Ferroll’s significance as an originating sensation novel, Gavin also argues that it is probably the first novel by a British woman writer to focus intensely upon a criminal protagonist. In doing so, Clive claimed crime for female authors and expanded fictional possibilities for sensation and crime writers who followed.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICVWW, Canterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK
  2. 2.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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