Orphans, Money and Marriage in Sensation Novels by Wilkie Collins and Philip Pullman Chapter uri icon


  • The orphan frequently appears in mid-nineteenth-century fiction as pathetic, fragile and helpless in a worldly sense. Archetypal Victorian orphans of this species include Charles Dickenss Little Nell and Jo (1841 and 1853), the motherless Helen Burns in Jane Eyre (1847; Jane herself, though a full orphan, is more tenacious of life), and the fatherless title character in Hesba Strettons Jessicas First Prayer (1865). These iconic figures lack both natural protectors and natural defences, and thus, as Elisabeth Wesseling observes, Orphans are ideally suited to melodramatic sentimentalism, as they embody the powerless and meek that the reader should take pity on

author list (cited authors)

  • Nelson, C.

complete list of authors

  • Nelson, C

editor list (cited editors)

  • Warren, D., & Peters, L.

Book Title

  • Rereading Orphanhood: Texts, Inheritance, Kin

publication date

  • 2020