Richard Marsh (1857-1915) was an extremely prolific and successful writer of the late-Victorian and early Edwardian periods. He is best-known for his 1897 novel The Beetle, a Gothic thriller which, on its publication, proved more popular than Stoker’s Dracula. The Beetle was also my first encounter with Marsh’s writings, and in 2007 I published an article on this in the journal Critical Survey. Marsh was in fact, however, the writer of 80 volumes and over 250 short stories, and an author who published across numerous genres of popular fiction, including detective fiction, romance and comedy. In July 2012 I co-organised (with Dr Daniel Orrells from the University of Warwick) a one-day symposium on Marsh at the University of Brighton.
The 2012 symposium brought together experts on Marsh and on the fin de siecle, to explore Marsh's larger oeuvre and his significance for scholarly understandings of the period. It explored the proposition that Marsh is in a fact a highly ambiguous figure whose very contradictions offer the possibility of productively unsettling what we think we know about the literature and culture of turn-of-the-century Britain.
One outcome of the symposium has been a project to publish a collection of essays on Marsh. I am working on this with an international team of Marsh scholars, and we are hoping that a volume will be forthcoming in 2014/15.