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Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan met in 1857; she was 18, a hard-working actress performing in his production of The Frozen Deep, and he was 45, the most lionized writer in England. Out of their meeting came a love affair that lasted thirteen years and destroyed Dickens’s marriage while effacing Nelly Ternan from the public record.
In this remarkable work of biography and scholarly reconstruction, the acclaimed biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys and Jane Austen rescues Nelly from the shadows of history, not only returning the neglected actress to her rightful place, but also providing a compelling portrait of the great Victorian novelist himself. The result is a thrilling literary detective story and a deeply compassionate work that encompasses all those women who were exiled from the warm, well-lighted parlors of Victorian England.
“Captivating. . . . An absorbing book about…a character who helps to illuminate the life of a great artist and the life of her times.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“As social history, literary criticism, and, not least, an absorbing detective story, The Invisible Woman is a wonderful book.” —Newsday
“Groundbreaking.” —The Guardian (UK)
“This is feminist biography at its best.” —Leon Edel
“Part social history, part detective story, wholly enthralling.” —John Carey, The Sunday Times (London)