The leading publisher of popular novels and gothic romances in Romantic-era London, William Lane’s Minerva Press was understood by critics to drive the period’s troubling surplus of cheap, imitative, largely female-authored fictions. It was thus roundly condemned, and its publications dismissed wholesale as cultural trash, despite the remarkable popularity they enjoyed with readers at home and abroad. More recent literary criticism has tended to replicate such assessments, viewing Minerva Press publications as unworthy of scholarly attention, often without the benefit of a thorough reading. The result is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Romantic literary marketplace and literary production in the period.
This paper turns attentions to Irish writers publishing with the Minerva Press between 1790 and 1820, including, among others, Regina Maria Roche (1764-1845), Sarah Green (fl. 1790-1825), and Henrietta Rouvière Mosse (d. 1835). Although now considered minor authors at best, these writers deserve renewed attention, not least because their works were among the most widely read of the period, as indicated by circulation, reprint, and translation activity. Considering the significant cultural impact of works by Irish Minerva Press authors, this paper explores the now-overlooked contribution made by these writers to the development of nineteenth-century Irish fiction.