Author(s): Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Lady Audley's Secret is a sensation novel by Mary Elizabeth Braddon published in 1862. It was Braddon's most successful and well-known novel. Critic John Sutherland (1989) described the work as "the most sensationally successful of all the sensation novels." The plot centres on "accidental bigamy" which was in literary fashion in the early 1860s. The novel opens with the marriage in June 1857, of Lucy Graham, a beautiful, childlike blonde who enchants almost all who meet her, to Sir Michael Audley, a middle-aged, rich, and kind widower. Lucy was a governess for the local doctor, Mr. Dawson, until her marriage. Previous to that Lucy was in service with Mrs. Vincent, but very little is known about her past before this. Around the time of the marriage, Sir Michael's nephew, the barrister Robert Audley, welcomes his old friend George Talboys back to England, after three years of gold prospecting in Australia.