By the Author of "Lady Audley's Secret." London: John Maxwell and Co., 1875. Original green cloth with spine lettered in gilt.
First Edition of this novel by the founder of the intricately plotted sensation novel, particularly known for her transgressive heroines. It is no coincidence that her early novels were published by Maxwell: in 1861 she had moved in with him, but since he already had five children by his wife who was confined to a mental asylum in Ireland, she did not marry him until 1874, when his first wife died; they then married, but already had numerous children themselves.
In Hostages to Fortune,... the world of Victorian theatre, which she represents affectionately in many other works, is shown as a more sordid and commercial environment. Myra Brandreth is the actress-manager of the Frivolity Theatre, who joins with the jaded Hamilton Lyndhurst in a plot against the young ingénue Editha Morcombe. Editha has married writer Herman Westray, Myra's former lover. Myra conspires with Hamilton to compromise Editha in the eyes of her husband. They lure Editha to a hotel... [Beller p. 86].
As is appropriate, there is a half-title in Vols II and III only. This copy is in near-fine condition, modestly rubbed at the extremities; the original pale yellow endpapers (each front one with the ownership signatures of two women) are intact. Sadleir (XIX) 294; Wolff 653 ("MEB began this book on September 29, 1874 and finished it on May 31, 1875. It was first published serially in Belgravia from November 1874 through November 1875" -- which means that the first chapters were appearing before the last ones were written). Item #14646