Fashionable novels, also called silver fork novels, were a 19th-century genre of English literature that depicted the lives of the upper class. They dominated the English literature market from the mid-1820s to the mid-1840s. They were often indiscreet, and on occasion "keys" would circulate that identified the real people on which the principal characters were based. Their emphasis on the relations of the sexes and on marital relationships presaged later development in the novel.
Theodore Hook was a major writer of fashionable novels, and Henry Colburn was a major publisher. Colburn particularly advertised them as providing insight into aristocratic life. Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Benjamin Disraeli and Catherine Gore were other very popular writers. Many were advertised as being by aristocrats, for aristocrats.
William Hazlitt coined the term "silver fork" in an article on “The Dandy School” in 1827. He characterized them as having "under-bred tone" because while they purported to tell the lives of aristocrats, they were commonly written by the middle-class. Thomas Carlyle wrote Sartor Resartus in critique of their minute detailing of clothing, and William Makepeace Thackeray satirized them in Vanity Fair and Pendennis.
As more women wrote the genre, it became increasingly moralized.
- Richard Cronin (2002-03-08). Romantic Victorians: English Literature, 1824-1840. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-333-96616-7.
- The Silver Fork Novel at Victorian Web
|This literature-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|