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'This article reassesses nineteenth-century representations of Britain's geographical 'antipodes' by looking at the figure of the returnee. While mid-Victorian sensation fiction expressed a redirected imperial panic by producing popular impostor plots, the resulting typecasting of the antipodal returnee as an intrinsically threatening figure increasingly prompted authors to react critically to this easy sensationalisation. Simultaneously, a new craze for impostor narratives was inspired by real-life scandals such as, most prominently, the Tichborne Claimant, an Australian butcher who claimed to be the lost heir to an aristocratic family. The case inspired a range of popular representations: from street ballads to heated debates about class issues and a number of novels, both in the metropolitan centre and in the settler colonies. My Young Alcides (1875) by the religious, didactic writer Charlotte Yonge, I argue, offers a revealing case study of domestic fiction's reaction to the easy appropriation and typecasting of 'down under' as a sensational space.' [Author's abstract]

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Last amended 21 Jul 2014 15:12:47