Serialised fiction in the Bolton Weekly JournalJacobi's Wife  (1883-84) by Adeline Sergeant

Adeline Sergeant 1851-1904 was a prolific writer during her lifetime and wrote over ninety novels, she began her writing career early publishing poems in 1866, while she was still in her teens (Encyclopaedia, 2019). One of her novels, Jacobi’s Wife, was published in the Bolton Weekly Journal,  and first appeared in weekly instalments between June 1883 to January 1884 (Bassett, 2020).

Jacobi’s Wife is a sensation novel, filled with scandal and crime a plenty, ranging from abduction to suicide to attempted murder, to name just a few. The villain of her novel resorts to blackmail and revenge and even abandons his wife and child. Her novel received mixed reviews at the time, but all commend her for an ‘exciting plot’.  

An anonymous reviewer for Murray’s Magazine wrote that “the plot is exciting, but unduly complicated and extravagant; the reader will find himself interested in the action of the story, but not in the personality of the characters” (1887, p.143), while an article in The Saturday Review declared that the novel is “extravagant, full of spirit, tolerably written, easily read, and still more easily forgotten.” The review proceeded to assert that the novel is “all agony from beginning to end”, and that “the reader will do well to console himself at starting with the idea that fact is stranger than fiction and be prepared for anything. Indeed, in reading a novel like this one should treat is as a dream, in which the reader accepts the most unlikely things as a matter of course” (1887, p.92).

Signed photograph, 'Very sincerely yours, Adeline Sergeant.'
Inside cover detail; Adeline Sergeant, Jacobi's Wife: A Novel. [n.d] London: Hurst and Blakett.

William Sharp wrote for The Academy that “the author of No Saint and An Open Foe never fails to be interesting; and in Jacobi’s Wife she has written a tale which should keep the reader in pleasant bondage to the end” (1887, p.445). He remarks that the villain of the piece, Constantine Jacobi, “is a scoundrel who deserves no spark of sympathy from the day he deserts his wife and child on the doomed schooner to his cowardly suicide in prison” (1887, p.445). The heroine of the novel, Jacobi’s wife is said to be “too sombre, even in her great suffering and sorrow to win anything more than pity from the reader” (1887, p.445). 

However, not all reviewers appreciated her attempt at sensation fiction. The Athenaeum was one such reviewer, commenting that “readers of No Saintan excellent and finished study of character, would have hardly credited Miss Sergeant with the ambition of winning distinction in melodrama. Yet upon melodrama she has on this occasion unmistakeably ventured, and, except that it proves versatility of the author, with a result that is far from justifying the experiment” (1887, p.17). 

Regardless of criticism, Jacobi’s Wife was awarded a prize by the People’s Friend of Dundee, Scotland (Encyclopaedia, 2019). You can find out more about this prolific writer by clicking the link, here.  

Front cover; Adeline Sergeant, Jacobi's Wife: a novel. [1888?] London: Spencer Blackett.


Anon. (1887) Fiction. Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art. [Online] July 1887. 64(1655), pp.92-93. London. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2021]. 

Anon. (1887) Jacobi’s Wife. Murray’s Magazine: a Home and Colonial Periodical for the General Reader. [Online] July 1887, 2(7), p.143. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2021].

Anon. (1887) Literature. The Athenaeum. [Online] July 1887, 3114, pp.17-18. London. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 March 2021]. 

Anon. [19th century] [Signed Photograph, Very Sincerely Yours Adeline Sergeant] [Online photograph]. Available at: <[Accessed 20 March 21].

Bassett, T., (2020) At the Circulating Library Title Information: Jacobi’s Wife. [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 March 2021]. (2019) Sergeant, Adeline (1851–1904) | [Online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 March 2021].  

Sergeant, A. (1888?) Jacobi’s Wife: a novel. [Online] London: Spencer Blackett. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Sergeant, A. (n.d.) Jacobi’s Wife: A Novel. [Online] London: Hurst and Blackett. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Sharp, W. (1887) New Novels. The Academy, 1869- 1902. [Online] June 188 (790), pp. 444-446. London. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 March 2021].