Clockwork Angel’s "readerly heroine"

Check out Cassandra Clare’s guest post on Novel Novice about some of the literary preoccupations of Tessa, the heroine of her forthcoming novel Clockwork Angel, book one of her new Infernal Devices series.

It’s exciting for an early Americanist like me to see works like Maria Cummins’ The Lamplighter (1854) and Susan Warner’s The Wide Wide World (1850) mentioned in a contemporary YA novel. Clare even mentions E.D.E.N. Southworth’s Hidden Hand (1859, 1888) as a personal favorite that didn’t make it into her novel.

Though now largely forgotten outside of academia, women like Southworth, Cummins and Warner (along with better known figures like Stowe and Alcott) dominated the mid-nineteenth century literary marketplace, much to the chagrin of now-canonical authors like Hawthorne and Melville (neither of whom sold terribly well in their lifetimes).

According to Clare:

When I started Clockwork Angel, I knew I wanted to write a readerly heroine, because Clary [heroine of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series] was such a painterly, visual person, not a word person at all — Tessa’s much more at home in books, and she thinks of people in terms of heroes and heroines from books she’s read. 

I don’t expect many of Clare’s young readers will be scampering off to read nineteenth century weepies like The Lamplighter or Warner’s vast, plodding tale of Ellen Montgomery’s coming of age (any more than Philip Pullman’s readers, or readers of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, for that matter, snatched up Milton), but with online access to many of these lost classics, I suppose it’s possible.

The Clockwork Angel drops August 31.

Both @cassieclare and @NovelNovice are on Twitter.


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