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The Recess

The Recess

Sophia Lee
Edited by April Alliston
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    The Recess
    Book Description:

    First published in an era when most novels about young women concentrated on courtship and ended with marriage,The Recessdaringly portrays women involved in political intrigues, overseas journeys, and even warfare. The novel is set during the reign of Elizabeth I and features as narrators twin daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots, by a secret marriage. One of the earliest Gothic novels,The Recesspioneered the genre of historical fiction. The novel was also one of the first to describe characters and events from conflicting points of view and was wildly popular in its day.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5835-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xliv)

    The Recessenjoyed enormous popularity for well over twenty years after its first publication in 1783, not only in the English-speaking world, but all over Europe. Its success was important in establishing both Gothic and historical fiction, of which it is one of the earliest examples, as modes that were predominant in England for decades afterward and remain popular to this day. Sophia Lee sets her “tale of other times” in the reign of Elizabeth I, and weaves its romance plot around the tragic history of Mary, Queen of Scots. Its twin heroines and narrators are raised in a mysterious...

  5. Chronology of Events in Sophia Lee’s Life
    (pp. xlv-xlviii)
  6. Note on the Text
    (pp. xlix-lii)
  7. The Recess; or, A Tale of Other Times

    • PART I
      (pp. 1-68)



      After a long and painful journey through life, with a heart exhausted by afflictions, and eyes which can no longer supply tears to lament them, I turn my every thought toward that grave on the verge of which I hover. Oh! why then, too generous friend, require me to live over my misfortunes? Such has been the peculiarity of my fate, that though tortured with the possession and the loss of every tye and hope that exalts or endears humanity, let but this feeble frame be covered with the dust from which it sprung, and...

    • Part II
      (pp. 69-98)

      The communication between Lord Leicester’s apartment and ours was a profound secret to all the servants but Le Val and Williams, my Lord’s valet; in whose fidelity, after the late trial, he had the most perfect confidence. We were, to keep up the farce, presented to Lord Leicester the next day, who soon, by his growing distinction, taught Mrs. Hart and her daughters to observe a kind of deference in their behaviour to us. He ordered them to attend us round the gardens and park, and not to fail shewing whatever was worth observation; and through what a beautiful variety...

    • Part III
      (pp. 99-151)

      From this temporary death I was at last recalled by a sound that made me wish it had been indeed eternal; the voice, the tremendous voice of Williams. Of what horrors was my soul instantly susceptible! What dreadful images swam before those eyes I hardly durst open! Fearfully at length I cast them around—I saw I had been conveyed into the great room of our Recess; sacred once to piety and innocence, but now, alas! the shelter of rapine, perhaps murder. A number of ill-looking ruffians stood ready to fulfil the worst commands of their ferocious confederate, who with...

    • Part IV
      (pp. 152-223)

      I struggled with the sad remembrances indelibly impressed on my heart, when my eyes again beheld the shore of England; and folding to my bosom the dear offspring of love and misfortune, I shut up every sense in her. Already alive to the anxious hopes and wishes that so early tincture a being with which alone they expire, my daughter fondly flattered herself with the expectation of an unknown good, and impatiently wished for the termination of our voyage. I landed at Greenwich, because the spot where I could soonest learn intelligence of the Sidney family, as the people who...

    • Part V
      (pp. 224-270)

      A Silence so tedious will make you number me among the dead; recover yourself, my beloved friend—born to a perpetual contest with ill fortune, I sink not even yet under the oppression.— I have been collecting all my thoughts to pursue my strange recital, more strange indeed every day.

      In our way toward Ulster, we were intercepted by a body of the rebellious Irish, and a desperate skirmish ensued—how shall I own it, and call myself the love of Essex? yet so it was—I, who had been so valiant in imagination, and remote from the field of...

    • Part VI
      (pp. 271-326)

      Time, which inures us to every kind of suffering, at length strengthened my mind against the heavy sadness impressed on it by the fate of this dear unconscious sufferer. It was with true gratitude and concern I learnt Heaven had called to itself the amiable and accomplished sister of Lady Arundel, who caught a cold during her attendance on the sick Queen, which ended in a consumption, and carried her off a few months after Elizabeth. Actuated to the last by the sublimest sympathy and friendship, Lady Pembroke had added, to the moiety of the surveyor’s treasure (which she had...

  8. Emendations
    (pp. 327-330)
  9. Notes to the Novel
    (pp. 331-362)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 363-366)