Serialised fiction in the Bolton Weekly JournalFighting the Air  (1874-75) by Florence Marryat

Border detail; Florence Marryat's "No Intentions: A Novel". London, 1874, p.9.

Marryat was a successful British author. Daughter of Frederick Marryat, Florence was highly interested in spiritualism and the afterlife, and socialised with popular mediums of her time. As Phil Worsley notes in his article on Florence Marryat, she wrote sixty-eight novels with additional magazine and newspaper articles. She also wrote for the stage and some short stories. Between 1876 and 1890, Marryat had a career in performance which included writing and performing a comic sketch. She later performed in comedies, dramas, and comic operas. In addition to this, Marryat was also known as a dramatic reader, author, public entertainer, and lecturer. In 1890, Marryat opened her school of Literary Art in St Johns Wood, Westminster (Catherine Pope, 2021). 

Marryat’s fourteenth novel, Fighting the Air, was the first of her works to be serialised in the Bolton Weekly Journal between November 1874 to May 1875 (Troy J. Bassett, 2021). Receiving mixed reviews – in part due to the sensational subject matter of the novel – Fighting the Air was described by The Saturday Review as a work that was lacking in originality, stating that “Fighting the Air contains nothing new, and not much that is true” (1875, p.365). Reflecting on the themes of the textThe Saturday Review notes that “It deals with bigamy to be sure”, but as the novel presents an unintentional act of bigamy, it is to be pitied and admired rather than condemned” (p.365) 

 On balance, therefore, the reviewer suggests that Fighting the Air is an advance on its predecessors in that it is somewhat less coarse and not quite so improper. [..] So far we are grateful to the Author” (p.365). However, the review continues to criticise the lack of propriety relating to matters of desire, remarking that: 

still we could have spared one or two scenes where the physical nature of a man’s passion is the main theme, and a negative mixing together of hunger, fierceness, and kisses creates anything but a pleasant image” (p.365). 

Florence Marryat by Unknown photographer. Woodburytype on paper mount, late 1860s-1870s NPG x21214. © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Athenaeum, alternatively, praised Marryat’s novel stating that ’Fighting the Air’ is pleasantly written, wonderful too […] On the whole, we may congratulate” (1875, p. 368). The periodical expressed how successful Marryat’s novel was and how well it was written. Despite receiving varied reviews from critics, Marryat was regarded as a highly prolific writer of her time and continued to publish works which are still favoured to this day. 

Read an interesting overview of Marryat’s life, here. 


Anon. (1875) Fighting the Air. Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art. 18 September, 40(1038), pp.365-366. [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 May 2021].  

Anon. [Late 1860s-1870s] [Florence Marryat] [Online photograph]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 May 2021].

A‌non. (1875) Novels of the Week. The Athenaeum. 18 September, (2499), pp. 368-369. [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 May 2021].

Bassett, Troy J. (2021). At the Circulating Library Title Information: Fighting the Air. [Online] Available at:  <> [Accessed 17 May 2021].

Marryat, F. (1874) No Intentions: A novel. London: Richard Bentley & Son. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 May 2021].

Pope, C. (2021) Florence Marryat (1833-1899). Victorian Secrets. [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 May 2021].

Wikipedia (2021). Florence Marryat. [Online] Available at: <>