a1 Carleton University
In 1818 John Keats claims that prefaces are written to the public and that he does not want to participate in this mode of address. In 1837 Thomas Love Peacock notes that his novels had originally appeared without prefaces and that he would have preferred that they remain that way. But, he writes, “an old friend assures me, that to publish a book without a preface is like entering a drawing-room without making a bow” (cited in Grierson 134). In England in the 1880s, however, the novel preface went beyond textual etiquette. It was not only written to the public but it also participated in the debate over competing definitions of the reading public, and it contributed, in turn, to a new configuration of this public.