Forgotten Books: Victorian Villainies (Ed) Graham and Hugh Greene

The Penguin Book of Victorian Villainies contains four novels selected by writer Graham Greene and his brother, Hugh Greene. Of the four, I had already read The Rome Express and In the Fog but the other two, The Great Tontine and The Beetle were new to me.

How did they miss the last E in Greene?????????

The Great Tontine has an interesting premise because it involves a lottery of a very unique kind. Each ticket-holder nominates a certain person over the age of sixty. The money thus raised is used for the building and up-keep of an opera house while dividends are paid to the ticket-holders. As the nominees pass away, the remaining share-holders see an increase in their dividends. Finally only three are left: the self-indulgent Viscount Lakington; honest Miss Caterham; and smart lawyer Paul Pegram. As Miss Caterham’s nominee is missing, Pegram sends a proposal to the viscount to claim and divide the prize between them…but with a rider.

I enjoyed this mixture of mystery and romance and am keen to read more of the writer Hawley Smart.

A review of the book can be found @Vintage Pop Fictions.


First Line: Eighteen hundred and sixty

First Published in 3 vols by Chapman & Hall, 1881

Other books read of the same author: None


Richard Marsh’s 1897 novel The Beetle combines elements of horror with mystery. Told from the point-of-view of four people who become involved in a tale of revenge, the novel (as Wikipedia informs me)  was a roaring success and out-sold Bram Stroker’s Dracula which was published in the same year.

Upcoming politician Paul Lessingham, in his earlier years, became involved with an Egyptian cult. Now a devotee of that cult wants to destroy Lessingham. With a power that is supernatural, s/he creeps closer to Lessingham…

A detailed review of the book can be found here.


First Line: ‘No room! – Full up!’

First Published by Skeffington in 1897

Other books read of the same author: None


The Penguin Book of Victorian Villainies

Original Title: Victorian Villainies

Selected by Graham Greene & Hugh Greene
Intro by Hugh Greene

Publication Details: London: Claremont Books,1985
First Published. 1984
Pages: 715
Source: DSPL [823 G822V]


Submitted for FFB @ Pattinase

6 thoughts on “Forgotten Books: Victorian Villainies (Ed) Graham and Hugh Greene

  1. Four novels with creepy Victorian villains – you can't beat that, Neer. 🙂 This sounds like something I will definitely be adding to my library. Outsold DRACULA???


  2. This does sound deliciously eerie, Neeru. There's something about the Victorian Era, isn't there, when it comes to creating a creepy atmosphere. Glad you enjoyed the reading.


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