Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. As in Elizabeth Gaskell’s similar novel, North and South (1854-1855), the London of Sybil is not systematically portrayed. However, a contrast is set up between areas of power and those of powerlessness. The former include the Houses of Parliament, the prime minister’s residence, and such politically influential meeting places as men’s clubs and the houses of aristocratic women who see themselves as power-brokers. The latter are places where the Chartists, outsiders to London, find temporary residence on the fringes. The Temple, where “Baptist” Hatton has an office, is a sort of middle-ground, a place where power can be transferred in a way that a reactionary Parliament refuses to.

Mowbray Castle

Mowbray Castle. Modern edifice in the Gothic style, built on the newly purchased Mowbray estate by the River Mowe, where it has extensive woods and parklands. The castle is built by the first man to hold the title of Lord Fitz-Warene—a newly created title that is eventually shown to be false, as the castle should belong to Sybil Gerard’s family. Meanwhile, the estate’s wealth is greatly increased by the prosperity of the nearby town of Mowbray. However, at the end of the novel, the castle is burned down by a mob of disgruntled workers, and the title reverts to its rightful owner.


Mowbray. Town that was originally a village on Mowbray estate before growing rapidly during the Industrial Revolution. Although the town’s central parts reflect its new prosperity, it also has wretched slums in its suburbs, and shantytowns beyond. Disraeli symbolically shows the...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Braun, Thom. Disraeli the Novelist. Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin, 1981. Concentrates on Disraeli’s career as a novelist rather than as a politician. It seeks to reconstruct his life through his novels and to show his development as a novelist. Chapter 5 particularly relates Sybil: Or, The Two Nations to the political events in Disraeli’s life.

Cazamian, Louis. The Social Novel in England, 1830-1850. Translated by Martin Fido. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973. Cazamian’s book is the classic study of the subject. Sybil: Or, The Two Nations is fully treated along with Disraeli’s other two social novels. Bibliography and index.

Gallagher, Catherine. The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form, 1832-1867. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. Surveys the whole field of the industrial novel, with an excellent introductory discussion of “The Condition of England” question. Chapter 8 deals extensively with Sybil: Or, The Two Nations. Notes, bibliography, index.

Ridley, Jane. The Young Disraeli, 1804-1846. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995. A recent biography, and one of the most objective. It draws extensively from letters and papers, and demonstrates clearly that although Egremont may represent Disraeli’s political views, in no way does he represent Disraeli’s actual life.

Schwarz, Daniel R. Disraeli’s Fiction. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1979. Seeks to establish Disraeli’s skill and importance as a novelist, and that writing fiction actually helped form Disraeli’s character.