‘To be mistress of her own fate’
Suicide as control and contagion in the works of Richard Marsh
in Suicide and the Gothic
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Suicide clearly held a particular fascination for Richard Marsh (1857–1914), one of the most prolific and popular fiction writers of the period, with representations of suicide and reflections on it featuring widely throughout his Gothic oeuvre. But this interest goes further than the astute incorporation of cultural anxieties, which Marsh often used as a key technique for heightening the disturbing effects of his work, to considerations of its social, philosophical and scientific import. This is evidenced not only through his fiction but also by a seemingly unpublished essay (in the University of Reading archives), from 1891–1910, simply entitled ‘Suicide’ (which includes the characteristically provocative suggestion that ‘there may be something to be said even in favour of suicide’). This chapter draws on examples from a range of Marsh's multitudinous Gothic (or Gothic-inflected) texts, including Mrs Musgrave (1895), A Master of Deception (1913) and  A Spoiler of Men (1905), which Johan Höglund identifies as containing arguably ‘the first instance of the zombie character in British fiction’.  

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