‘A Deformed Person is a Lord’: Deformity and the Male Aristocratic Body in Nineteenth-Century Popular Fiction

Sophie Bullen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper will explore how and why the deformed male aristocrat became a recognizable figure in the era, making its way into several hugely popular (and today neglected) nineteenth-century novels. From the morbid Earl of St Germains (in Anne Marsh’s bestselling 1834 novella “The Deformed”) to the “smallest, saddest specimen of infantile deformity”, the Earl of Cairnforth (in Dinah Craik’s 1866 A Noble Life); from the clubfooted Sir Patrick Lundie (in Collins’ 1870 Man and Wife) to the heroic hunchback Lord Lashmar (of Braddon’s 1886 One Thing Needful), and the crippled, oversexed aesthete Sir Richard Calmady (in Lucas Malet’s 1901 eponymous novel), literary depictions of noble deformity, I argue, both enhance our understanding of Victorian notions of degeneration, heredity, masculinity and creativity, and challenge modern-day views about the role of deformed bodies in nineteenth-century literature and culture.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019
EventThe Body
and the Page
in Victorian Culture
: An International Conference
- University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
Duration: 26 Jul 201828 Jul 2018


ConferenceThe Body
and the Page
in Victorian Culture
Internet address

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