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"Good Lady Ducayne"

"Good Lady Ducayne"

Mary Elizabeth Braddon  was an English popular novelist of the Victorian era. She was a prolific writer, producing more than eighty novels with inventive, sensational plots, but it was Lady Audley's Secret which won her recognition and a fortune as a bestseller.

Braddon initially sold the rights to the Irish publisher John Maxwell, with whom she also lived and had six children. Previously serialized, a popular Victorian publishing convention, it was not until Lady Audley's Secret was published as a three-volume novel by William Tinsley that it became a success and allowed Braddon to be financially independent for the remainder of her life. It also enriched her publisher William Tinsley, who went on to build a villa at Barnes, "Audley Lodge," with the profits.

Notably – given the theme of bigamy in the novel's plot – Maxwell himself was married to another woman, and so Braddon was unable to marry him until his wife died in 1874. When it became public that Maxwell and Braddon had been living in an "irregular" arrangement all those years, it caused a minor scandal during which all their servants gave notice.  All told, including the children from his first marriage and his children with Braddon, the couple raised eleven children, something rather sensational in itself.

In 1997 a Wordsworth Limited Edition was released with an Introduction by Keith Carabine from the University of Kent in which he states, "In the latter half of the nineteenth century, everyone knew Lady Audley’s Secret."

Braddon also wrote several works of supernatural fiction, including tonight's story, "Good Lady Ducayne," which follows the adventures of a young lady hired as a companion to a person whom she describes as an "aristocratic witch withered in her old age."  A romping and delicious plot take this story all the way to a very happy ending, a real rarity in a vampire tale, wherein most victims do not fare so well at all.

And now, turn down the lights and join us for "Good Lady Ducayne" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon....