The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XI. Lesser Novelists

§ 2. Catherine Grace Gore

There is something, perhaps, of Jane Austen’s influence to be traced in the novels of Catherine Grace Gore. Mrs. Gore, like Mrs. Trollope, was a very prolific worker. Her reputation has suffered at Thackeray’s hands. From Lords and Liveries, by the author of Dukes and Déjeuners, Heart and Diamonds, Marchionesses and Milliners, one of Thackeray’s Novels by Eminent Hands, it might be imagined that Mrs. Gore was nothing but a novelist of “high life.” True, she liked to give her characters titles of nobility; and that was exactly the feature in her work which would attract Thackeray’s notice. But, in Mrs. Armytage, or Female Domination (1836) and in Mothers and Daughters (1831) there is considerable ability. In Mothers and Daughters may be traced clearly an attempt to follow Jane Austen in fidelity to life and in unity of form and matter; and the study of the heartless “society” mother, Lady Maria Willingham, is a more finely-painted piece of work than Susan Ferrier’s more extravagantly designed Lady Juliana Douglas. In Mrs. Armytage, Mrs. Gore came nearest to being a novelist of the first rank. The chief character in this tale of landed gentry in Yorkshire is a woman of heroic and domineering temper, whose rather weak-willed son has married the pretty daughter of a vulgar betting-man. Broad contrasts, like that between Mrs. Armytage and the coarse and good-hearted relatives of her daughter-in-law, and fine contrasts like that between Mrs. Armytage and her son, are contrived with a sincere but not too subtle art, so as to throw into relief the nature of this terrible and oppressive but, nevertheless, majestic woman. In all the unhappiness that she causes, she is never altogether hateful; but, at the close, the author refrains from exaggerating her punishment. The book shows a fitness and justice that make it comparable to the work of Jane Austen, though it is quite unlike that work in its gravity, its didactic tone and its use of incident.