Like the rest of us who teach at campuses that are neither R1s nor elite SLACs nor draped elegantly in ivy, Corey Robin cannot help noticing a certain narrowness in mass media coverage of higher ed. Well, yes. Besides the reasons other commenters have pointed out--Harvard and Yale grads covering Harvard and Yale, etc.--I think that there's also some convenient homogeneity at the upper end of the scale. Such campuses are generally competing nation-wide for the same kind of student; expecting similar research outcomes from their faculty; and, for that matter, hiring faculty from within their own particular network. Smaller and/or less elite campuses, whether comprehensive colleges or directional states, of necessity tend to think locally (although financial pressures are changing that), may have different hiring priorities, have wildly varying expectations about research, and so forth. (This is why I have come to look askance at the deluges of academic hiring advice that professional career counselors pour forth each season: much of it has to be ignored for any given college.) Incorporating colleges like mine requires reporters to think about not only different campus cultures, but also regional issues (my little SUNY fits rather differently into its part of NY than Robin's CUNY), varying responses to financial questions, demographic vagaries, and the like.
In her afterword to the new Valancourt edition of Elizabeth Jenkins' Harriet (1934), based on the murder of Harriet Staunton in 1877, Catherine Pope notes that the novel is akin to Victorian "sensational novels" in turning the supposed haven of the domestic sphere into a site of terror (loc. 3320). The novel also deconstructs, it seems to me, the sentimentalization of characters with developmental disabilities in Dickens' novels--Smike in Nicholas Nickleby, for example, or Maggy in Little Dorrit. Harriet inspires no emotional response in her tormenters other than dread or disgust; her presence expands no hearts and her influence sheds no warming rays over anyone's soul. Nor is she represented as an inspirational angel: when conscious that something is wrong, Harriet, who has no other way of articulating her objections, flies out into a "sudden start of rage" (loc. 494) or explodes in a destructive "outbreak of rage" (loc. 1330). The novel's scathingly ironic point, however, is that despite Harriet's inability to engage in abstract reasoning or to understand cause and effect, virtually nothing separates her desires and pleasures from those of the people around her--all of whom, needless to say, have moral problems that far outweigh Harriet's intellectual difficulties. Harriet's "intelligence was perfectly normal" when matters of "food or dress" are involved (loc. 64), and it's hard to distinguish her elegant tastes in clothing from Alice Hoppner's agonized yearning for her ideal dress, a "delicate, heavenly creation" (loc. 133), or her appreciation of delicious meals from her future husband Lewis' decision to splurge on the wedding feast (loc. 1164). Similarly, Harriet's anger may occasionally become destructive, but it is far less dangerous than her brother-in-law Patrick's emotionally and physically abusive treatment of his wife and children. Her sister-in-law Elizabeth's single-minded fixation on Patrick, meanwhile, duplicates Harriet's own obsessive passion for Lewis (both men being equally unworthy objects into the bargain). In fact, of all the characters other than Harriet's mother, the only one who finally grasps that something is wrong is the initially comical servant, Clara, a "bulging-eyed creature" who loves "penny-press novels and stories of crime" (loc. 378). Despite her initial contempt, Clara, not being "blinded by morbid love, by perverted passion, by avarice, selfishness, or lust" (loc. 2720), manifests one of the few glimmers of moral compunction in the text by trying to get help for Harriet's baby and testifying against Patrick, Elizabeth, and Alice at their trial. Only Clara and Harriet's mother show themselves capable of grasping that Harriet is a human being deserving equal moral consideration--and the former is treated with contempt by her employers and the latter by the legal and medical system. Our final glimpse of the imprisoned Elizabeth, incapable of doing anything but awaiting the delivery of food to her cell, suggests an impervious moral obtuseness: the narrator notices the irony (Elizabeth, who gets fed in her prison, is still far better off than Harriet, starved to death in hers), but Elizabeth engages in no self-reflection at all, not even when notified of her husband's own death in prison. Surface cleverness in this novel merely covers up for an (aspirationally) middle-class banality of evil.
Emma Donoghue, Frog Music (Back Bay, 2014). Murder mystery set during a very hot San Francisco summer in 1876. (Lift Bridge)
Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird (Riverhead, 2014). Rewrite of "Snow White," updated to 1950s New York and addressing questions of racial identity. (Lift Bridge)
Barbara Klein Moss, The Language of Paradise (Norton, 2015). In nineteenth-century America, a young woman tries to deal with her husband's and his friend's obsession with reconstructing the original language of man spoken in the Garden of Eden. (Amazon)
Joseph Bottum's recent essay on Protestantism and the novel is similar to an earlier article by Valentine Cunningham, which argues, even more bluntly, that the modern novel form is indebted to the "God of the Protestant Reformers and the Protestant Bible translators." Its plots, according to Cunningham, emerge from the very Christian "dialogic relation" between "melancholy" and "possible ways of escape from it into its grand other, ecstasy."1 Cunningham takes this argument to its logical conclusion, which is that a "novel" emerging outside this particular context is not a novel. For Bottum (much less interested than Cunningham is in Robinson Crusoe), what makes the novel "Protestant" is its emphasis on "the individual's soul journey," or "self-consciousness as self-understanding." In other words: "The self-investigation of the self, the attempt to discern the truth amidst the clash of feelings with perceptions of social and physical reality, emerges as the proper spiritual journey of individuals and the true rightwising of their souls:Pilgrim's Progress, rewritten in self-consciousness." Both writers agree that, as Bottum puts it, even for Catholic authors, "the paths of the novel" all wind over "Protestant territory."
Strictly speaking, I'm operating in the kind of space that neither Cunningham nor Bottum finds particularly interesting--novels that are first and foremost religious-=but still, the question of whether the Victorian religious novel can be said to be Protestant or Catholic in its form, not just in its subject matter, is of obvious interest to me. In many ways, this kind of boundary-drawing feels like capturing sand--which, if all writers are in the same "territory," makes sense. Still, that's not to say that nothing is distinctive about Victorian Catholic religious fiction.
So. What are the major differences?
Little to no wrestling with the Bible. It's difficult to find a Protestant novel without a scene (or scenes) in which characters wrestle with Biblical interpretation, usually on their own. Even when they have help, these characters still need to arrive at their conclusions using private judgment. In a Catholic novel, not only do these scenes not happen, but also the Bible itself rarely gets a look-in, except in occasional quotations or, perhaps, larger structural allusions. (If the Bible does crop up, it's frequently a priest doing the quoting.) Instead...
...characters struggle to acknowledge the eternal verity of the Church. Subjective struggles emerge from a character's willingness or unwillingness to accept that the RCC is the one and only true Church. Frequently...
...the transformative moment is when the character participates in or observes Mass. The Mass either sparks the character's first doubts about Protestantism or confirms his or her new faith. In other words, the combined workings of the miracle of the Eucharist and participation in communal worship/adoration supplant the Protestant novel's emphasis on the individual alone with the Word (even though both conversion plots lead the character to a new-found community of believers). Alternately or in addition...
...conversion occurs because the character is exposed to an exemplary Catholic. Witnessing good works and their effect stirs a new interest in the faith. Again, the Catholic understanding of spiritual community sparks the character's inward transformation. Moreover...
...there is no assumption that suffering leads to a this-worldly reward, or that there is even such a thing as a "happy ending." While Protestant fiction doesn't necessarily assume this either--witness all the novels about being persecuted and martyred for the faith--Catholic fiction tends to insist much more strictly on extreme suffering being rewarded only in Heaven, and that, moreover, even a relatively upbeat ending will still be leavened by significant experiences of pain. (It's not that Catholic characters spend the rest of their lives in a state of gloom, but that they rarely get rewarded by money, social status, or any other worldly good for as a sign of God's good graces.) Along those lines...
...the marriage plot is not normative. (This has been discussed by Maria La Monaca, among others.) Now we're getting into more substantial questions of genre. Unlike classic realist fiction (cf. Joseph Boone), Catholic fiction does not assume that women's subjectivities (or men's, for that matter) are necessarily bound up in an arc of love, marriage, and childbirth. Instead, women come into full selfhood by embodying Catholic ideals of piety, charity, humility, &c. (using the saints and the Virgin as models), and there is no set pattern for this development: they may marry and have children (or, as the case may be, marry and not have children); they may lead a single secular life devoted to charitable works; or (ideally) they may take vows. Novels may model all of these paths. Marriage in and of itself does not take priority. (It's worth noting that while the novels downgraded the marriage plot for women, Catholic commentators of the time did not always agree.) Perhaps most seriously...
...miracles happen. That is to say, Catholic realism encompasses mystical visions, visitations from the saints, and miraculous transformations (e.g., the miracle of St. Januarius). In Protestant fiction, God might have his say with a nasty thunderstorm, but he's not going to liquefy blood. For a reader who approaches fiction from a Protestant or Protestant-by-default perspective, Victorian Catholic fiction cannot easily be classed with classical realist novels because the underlying narrative assumptions seem to point towards "Gothic" or "romance"--even though, in fact, the novels simply have a somewhat different understanding of the boundaries of "the real."
1 Valentine Cunningham, "The Novel and the Protestant Fix: Between Melancholy and Ecstasy," Biblical Religion and the Novel 1700-2000, ed. Mark Knight and Thomas Woodman (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 40.
1) On the candidate's end: no institutional letterhead; no mention of institutions on the CV or in the letter.
2) Letters of recommendation: Entirely anonymous. Letters are signed on an entirely separate sheet, not forwarded to the search committee; no institutional letterhead, no mention of institutions.
3) At Human Resources: for record-keeping purposes, candidates may register their institutional affiliations in a separate document/online form that would not be viewable by search committees; similarly, a candidate's referees' names/institutions would be available to HR, but not the committee.
It's not really possible to make the candidates anonymous, as it would take all of five seconds to Google their publications or conference presentations.
1) Would reduce, if not entirely eliminate, unjustified bias towards particular graduate (and perhaps even undergraduate) institutions.
2) Would divert attention from the signature on the letter of reference to the letter itself.
3) Would level the playing field a bit for academics who, for whatever reason, found themselves restricted in their choice of graduate school by geography, family obligations, etc.
1) More files for HR to maintain (or lose...).
2) Some universities not in the overall top twenty may well have individual departments with high rankings (an obvious case is Illinois State University at Normal, which has one of the most important programs in children's literature in the country). Students in those programs would lose an advantage.
3) In some cases, stripping affiliations might make it harder to diversify programs (for any sense of the word "diversify") than easier--while search committees might have fewer opportunities to be (un)consciously biased, they would also have fewer opportunities to conscientiously identify students who are not from the top ten (if that is understood to be a goal).
1) Depending on HR regulations, it may be necessary to contact referees at some point in the decision-making phase. Presumably, HR could identify the referees at that point.
2) I don't think this makes forgery/other forms of misrepresentation easier.
3) There may be unforeseen consequences for applicants who share referees, in the sense that it would become difficult to catch when a referee insists that all his students are the awesomest awesomes who ever awesomed, or whatever. By the same token, it also makes it harder for a committee to figure out that Professor X just writes terrible letters, as opposed to writing a terrible letter for one student and amazing letters for all the others.
4) I do wonder if this approach would have unforeseen consequences in regards to professionalization trends. On the one hand, all those ABDs from Yale with no publications would lose any advantage they might have from the magic word "Yale"; on the other hand, graduate students might feel even more pressure to publish than they do, as that would probably take the place of University Name Here as a convenient sorting hat.
Hesba Stretton, Jessica's First Prayer/Little Meg's Children/Alone in London/Pilgrim Street (Garland, 1976). Omnibus volume containing four of Stretton's bestselling RTS novels about impoverished "waifs" in the metropolis. Part of the "Novels of Faith and Doubt" series. (eBay)
Francis E. Paget, St. Antholin's/Milford Malvoisin (Garland, 1975). Two novels about church architecture controversies (yes, you read that correctly), one about restoration and the other about pews. Also in the "Novels of Faith and Doubt" series. (eBay)
Diana Souhami, Gwendolen (Holt, 2015). It's Daniel Deronda, only without the Daniel Deronda plot. (Amazon)
Roger McDonald, The Ballad of Desmond Kale (Vintage, 2005). At the beginning of the nineteenth century, an Irish prisoner in Australia escapes his captors and takes on larger-than-life status. (Amazon [secondhand])
Patricia Thomas Srebernik, Alexander Strahan, Victorian Publisher (Michigan, 1986). Biographical and business study of Strahan's career as a major publisher of Victorian periodicals, including the Contemporary Review. (Amazon [secondhand])
R. W. Ambler, Ranters, Revivalists & Reformers: Primitive Methodism and Rural Society, South Lincolnshire 1817-1895 (Hull, 1989). Local history of the development and influence of one ardently evangelical Methodist sect. (Amazon [secondhand])
In recent months we've heard from the nurse (a minor character) and now Gwendolen (a major one). But surely this vein of literary endeavor has not yet been fully tapped? I humbly offer the following suggestions:
1) Better Service Have I Never Done You: The First Servant's Tale. Who was that anonymous First Servant in King Lear? And what led him to oppose his master, the Duke of Cornwall? In this shocking narrative, told as an extended flashback, the First Servant reveals why a jealous William Shakespeare vengefully consigned him to both anonymity and an untimely death. Lovers of mysteries and codes will be intrigued by the novel's intricate plot, which begins over a breakfast of bacon and eggs when the First Servant announced plans for a trip to Oxford...
2) Pilot: A Shaggy Dog Story. Fans of Lassie and Lad: A Dog will delight in this innovative reinterpretation of Jane Eyre, which retells the classic love story from the POV of Rochester's dog. Charlotte Bronte's anthropomorphism led her to conceal Pilot's central role in the plot, which included knocking Rochester off his horse and tricking Grace Poole into letting Bertha Mason out of the attic. Pilot's own doomed passion for Adele's Maltese forms a melancholy counterpoint to the more familar tale.
3) A Sensible Gentleman: Or, Mr. Willoughby's Narrative. In this new twist on Sense and Sensibility, Mr. Willoughby offers a rollicking account of romantic life at the end of the eighteenth century, when waists were high and moral standards were low. There is, of course, sex.
4) Unexpected. An irate Pip discovers that Charles Dickens has published his autobiography without permission, and with a few significant--and unapproved--edits. The truth is far more exciting...and far more brutal. Readers will thrill to Pip's gruesome stories of life as an accountant, especially his revelations about the role double-entry bookkeeping played in his discovery of the truth about Magwitch.
5) The Nun's Priest's Horse's Tale. Geoffrey Chaucer spent little time on the all-important animals carrying the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. In this twenty-first century Black Beauty, the Nun's Priest's Horse offers--in luminous verse--a touching story about everyday life as a medieval animal. Readers will never look at a haystack in the same way.
6) Ringing the Book. This audacious and ambitious retelling of Robert Browning's The Ring and the Book reimagines the story from the point of view of the Yellow Book itself. In a series of terza rima sonnets, the Yellow Book reflects on the process of its own construction, its fragmentary consciousness of the plot's events, and its eventual appropriation by Browning. Written to be taught in courses on postmodernism, poststructuralist theory, and intertextuality.
7) The Slough of Despond. In this elegiac sequel to Vanity Fair, an elderly Dobbin, still unable to complete his History, reflects on married life, fatherhood, and his secret but passionate affair with Becky Sharp. As the narrative unfolds, the reader realizes that Dobbin's tale is actually addressed to his heretofore unknown love child with Miss Jemima Pinkerton...
8) Lord Henry: My Life. This naughty novel is The Picture of Dorian Gray with all the good bits left in. A boisterous romp through the most decadent homes of the late-Victorian aristocracy, Lord Henry follows the eponymous hero through the heights of passion and the depths of interior decorating. A Fifty Shades of Grey for the more discerning reader.
9) The Dormouse Dozes. The publishing event of the season, The Dormouse Dozes asks us to imagine Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from the perspective of a dreamer within the dream. Told in fragmentary bursts of consciousness, delirious prose reminiscent of James Joyce, and abstract imagery, The Dormouse Dozes heralds our liberation from plot, characterization, genre, and the novel itself.
10) Daniel Deronda. In a scalding rejection of F. R. Leavis, Daniel Deronda retells the events of George Eliot's classic novel with all references to Gwendolen removed.
Apartment: set! (Er, unless there's some untoward disaster.) Plane ticket: set! (And I don't even have to fly in the wrong direction to change planes. That's what comes of avoiding British Airways this time around...) I'll be in London for approximately six weeks, from mid-May to the end of June, reading religious novels in the British Library and, with any luck, looking at some publishers' archives.
This again. It seems to me that it is not, in fact, all that hard to avoid propositioning one's students--and that, moreover, if one is so endowed with chili peppers that the students proposition you, it is equally not that hard to defer certain unclothed activities to a more appropriate moment. That moment being when that student is no longer in any way under your control. "But wait!" you wail. "You're asking me to put off coupling for two years?! The student will have lost interest by then!" And so will you, I imagine, which is rather the point. If this is actually a grand passion that involves violins, sunsets, and spontaneously-blossoming roses, then no doubt you can take the necessary, if potentially cumbersome, steps to ensure that said grand passion can be pursued without violating your professional integrity or the student's rights.
Now, I admit to being unsympathetic because, in fact, a number of the faculty-student sex stories that have come to my attention have had negative repercussions for other students. In other words, this is never entirely about two (or more?) star-crossed would-be lovers; it's about the other students and even, yes, one's colleagues (who may have to pick up the pieces if something goes, to use an esoteric technical term, disastrously kaflooey--and, of course, I can think of at least two departments in the 80s and 90s that imploded over sexual harassment problems). Moreover, while I do in fact know plenty of "old-timey" stories about professors whose hands wandered on a regular basis, and whose female students shrugged and put up with it, it's never been clear to me that said students found such behavior precisely entertaining. They "put up with it" because, pace Prof. Kipnis, they appear to have felt that they had no choice in the matter. Now students have more choice in the matter, and strange as it may appear, many of them don't feel like being fondled, propositioned, or otherwise handled.
Finally, and I admit that this is unpopular in some quarters: one of the downsides of this profession, as with any profession, is that you don't get to be yourself, to indulge yourself, or to do whatever, er, yourself feels like whenever it pleases you. Part of that not-being-yourselfness means that you treat your students as students, and not as sex objects. Their lives will be full of plenty of "vulnerability" without your assistance.
Little and Wise; Or Rabbi Agur's School (RTS, n.d.). A ca. 1900 reprint of this 1872 set of moral fables for children, as supposedly taught by Agur ben Jakeh. Also known as Rabbi Agur's School and Its Four Teachers. (eBay)
William Mallock, Tristram Lacy, or the Individualist (Macmillan, 1899). Satire of late-Victorian upper-class literary/intellectual circles by the eternally cranky Mallock. Not well-received at the time (this copy is uncut). Mallock is arguably best known for being repurposed. (eBay)
There are times when exploring non-canonical fiction opens up all sorts of new intellectual worlds to explore. New authors! New ideas! New narrative forms! New tropes!
And then, there are times when exploring non-canonical fiction leads you to contemplate a new life as a George Eliot specialist.
This would be one of the latter.
If you're going to study nineteenth-century Catholic fiction, then it's impossible to escape Anna Hanson Dorsey (1815-96), an American novelist who was extremely popular in the USA and enjoyed some measure of transatlantic success. Unfortunately, "success" does not equate with "remains readable," and the experience of reading Dorsey's work is somewhat akin to being clocked over the head by a never-ending stream of clumsy adjectives and adverbs, then slowly drowned beneath waves of dialogue unlike anything that ever has been or ever will be spoken by mortal tongues. In The Sister of Charity, characters have a bad habit of declaiming thus:
"I know, I know, that these tumultuous feelings are not natural to me, dearest father; I fear nothing for myself, but oh! some strange, sad presentiment assures me, that human life is struggling in wild agonies with those waves whose loud thunder we hear—that prayers which can only be heard in heaven mingle with the blast—that ere long, the brave, the lion-hearted, the fair and good, will go down to their death, beneath the waters of yon furious ocean; within hearing almost of our sheltered home." (I.9-10)
In other words, there's a ship out there in a storm.
I managed to get about one hundred pages into Charles Dolman's UK reprinting of The Sister of Charity before reaching peak exasperation. It's time to defuse my ire by diffusing it, as it were...
I. 96: We're in the midst of an apparently hopeless murder trial--for patricide, no less. The young and hunky Herbert, a lawyer, has been brought in as part of a last-ditch effort to save the defendant; the defendant is a saintly Catholic, whereas Herbert, while (as I said) young and hunky, is also addicted to laudanum (gulp) and, even, worse...
I.98: ...reads Voltaire. Shock, horror, &c.
I.103: The prisoner "fell fainting back on some kind breast, which sprang forwards under a momentary impulse, to save him from falling." Somebody's chest detached itself from their body and took pity on the prisoner?
I.103: The author declines to transcribe the "burning eloquence" of Herbert's speech, which is probably wise, under the circumstances. Not only is the speech "burning," but it's also akin to "the lightning-fires of heaven" and tinctured with "immortal fire." It's amazing that the pages haven't scorched.
I.104: Dorsey really likes "lightning," I guess.
I.105: In a fit of guilt, the real murderer shows up and exonerates the prisoner. Now we have fratricide instead of patricide.
I.110: The murderous uncle, having cleared his nephew, conveniently drops dead right after his confession. Violent relations can be so aggravating.
I.111: Uncle-the-corpse is "trampled out of all resemblance to humanity," which is presumably some sort of cosmic poetic justice at work.
I.117: Herbert turns out to be terribly anti-Catholic, which means that he is either going to die horribly or convert and die pleasantly.
I.119: "Evelyn Herbert, are you an atheist?" I will pause a moment to allow all of my readers to recover from this terrible shock.
I.124: Alas, in the wake of Herbert's revelation, the beauteous Corinne is most unsympathetic to his marriage proposal. You would have thought that Herbert might have noticed the atmosphere growing distinctly icy.
I.126: Also, Herbert apparently needed to use breath mints.
I.132: Herbert resorts to "copious potations" in order to get over the sting of rejection.
Just taking a drink was not, I gather, sufficiently elegant for Dorsey's tastes.
I.132: When drunk, Herbert has a habit of "declaiming" atheism like "a madman." He turns out to be a fan of Lucretius, Zeno, and Epicurus, all of whom Dorsey's readers should be careful to avoid.
I.133: Mom charitably wishes that her son had "died" of illness as a boy instead of living to drink alcohol and read Voltaire.
I.143-48: We pause our drama to explain the life of a sister in the order of St. Vincent de Paul.
I.150: I'm not sure that the name "Father Borgia" would have conjured up the most positive associations...
I.158-59: We pause our drama again in order to demonstrate how to set up a domestic oratory.
I.168: Protestant nations are given not just to all manner of horrors, but also to "fanaticism" and, even worse, "transcendentalism." Ralph Waldo Emerson, what have you done?
I.176: After expounding on the difference between Catholic nations (good) and Protestant (bad), we move on to explicating the role of images in Catholic worship. As in a Protestant novel, this is a signal to hit "monologue mode" on the character's control panel.
I.183: What the--Dolman's must have made a printing error and transposed a lot of text, because while the page numbers are correct, the action has skipped mid-word to an entirely different scene. I am confuzzled. Is there a Tardis handy? Perhaps we could send a proofreader back in time.
In case you're wondering, Herbert's mother seems to have collapsed.
I.184: Now we're back to our first speaker, but we're still missing a chunk of his monologue. I mean, that's probably all for the best, but...
I.185: And now we're back to Herbert (I guess), threatening someone (who?) with a stone pitcher. This certainly lends a postmodern aura to the proceedings.
I.186: OK, we're back to our first speaker at Elverton Hall, whose monologue apparently concluded while the narrative skipped to this...other thing. Perhaps the rest of the monologue will show up in Herbert's scene?
I.188: Well, we had about two pages in the same scene, and now we're somewhere else entirely. This is the most bizarre reading experience I've had in some time. I can only imagine what some literary theorist, happening upon this book two thousands year from now, will conclude about nineteenth-century narrative form.
I.190:...And we appear to have jumped to the end of the novel, except that we're not yet at the end of volume one. I need to find a different copy of this book to inflict upon myself read.
[Your Honor, I have no idea how all these volumes from the "Novels of Faith and Doubt" series got into my mailbox.]
Eliza Lynn Linton, Sowing the Wind, ed. Deborah T. Meem and Kate Holterhoff (Victorian Secrets, 2015). Marriages gone sour, madness, and female journalists in Victorian England. First published in 1867. More about Linton here. (Amazon)
Guy Boothby, A Prince of Swindlers, ed. Gary Hoppenstad (Penguin, 2015). New edition of this novel about a Raffles-esque criminal-detective, by the ultra-prolific Australian novelist Guy Boothby. Boothby is better known for his Dr. Nikola novels. First appeared in 1900. (Amazon)
Leonard Merrick, Mr. Bazalgette's Agent (British Library, 2013). A detective novel with a female protagonist, Miriam Lea. First published in 1888. (Amazon)
Frederick William Robinson, No Church (Garland, 1976) and Beyond the Church (Garland, 1977). Two of the three novels Robinson published exploring contemporary church controversies (the third is High Church). In Beyond the Church (1866),characters representing various theological "types" (High Churchmen, freethinkers, etc.) seek spiritual homes; in No Church (1861), a young woman born in a prison experiences both Methodist and worldly life. (eBay)
Robert Buchanan, Foxglove Manor (Garland, 1975). A seriously oversexed Anglican priest conducts an adulterous affair with one woman while he impregnates another. Needless to say, he converts to Roman Catholicism in the final sentence. First published in 1884. Buchanan is now primarily remembered for his attack on D. G. Rossetti. (eBay)
Thomas de Longueville, The Life of a Prig (Garland, 1975). Satirical account of a very self-satisfied religious seeker. De Longueville, a Catholic author, was best known for this book and its sequels. First published in 1885. (eBay)
Winwood Reade, The Outcast (Garland, 1975). A young clergyman is slowly beset by doubts about both his religion and his vocation. First published in 1875. Reade is better known for The Martyrdom of Man. (eBay)
Lady Gertrude Douglas, Linked Lives (Garland, 1975). Anglican girl meets impoverished Catholic servant, eventually converts (along with her fiance); everyone dies unpleasantly (except the servant). First published in 1876. (eBay)
Mrs. Desmond Humphreys, Sheba: A Study of Girlhood (Garland, 1976). Set in Australia. A young woman matures, finds love (and sex), and is betrayed. First published in 1889. (eBay)
Charles Maurice Davies, Broad Church (Garland, 1975). Satire of late-Victorian trends in the C of E by the somewhat, ah, quirky clergyman-cum-ethnographer-cum-novelist. First published in 1875. (eBay)
William Howitt, Woodburn Grange: A Story of English Country Life (Garland, 1975). Clash between old and new money in the countryside. Published in 1867 (one of Howitt's last works). More on Howitt (an ex-Quaker) here and here. (eBay)
Edmund Randolph, Mostly Fools: A Romance of Civilization (Garland, 1976). Rather dystopian Catholic novel (set in the near future) about a young man's attempt to save England from its own degradation. First published in 1886. (eBay)
Edward Heneage Dering, Sherborne (Garland, 1975). Young man wrestles with his anxieties about and attraction to Catholicism. Originally serialized in the Catholic periodical The Lamp; published in volume form in 1875. (eBay)
Lucy Ribchester, The Hourglass Factory (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Intrepid female reporter tries to figure out what happened to a suffragette circus performer. (Amazon [UK])
Frances Knight, The Church in the Nineteenth Century (Tauris, 2008). General history of Christianity, mostly focused on Europe but with some attention to the global context. (Amazon [secondhand])