Beautiful young Clara de Saumarez, strong-willed and impulsive, runs away from her aristocratic family to London to become an actress after her father punishes her with a dog whip. In London, she becomes an acclaimed actress, but disregards societal conventions by living with her theatre manager, Vasty Vaughan. Clara's beauty inspires the love of three men: the lecherous Vaughan, the handsome but rigidly Calvinistic curate Edward Mantell, and the kind Socialist Percival Glynn. But as Clara's story unfolds, she begins to be aware of the unpleasant realities around her, including her own equivocal social status, the inequalities facing women, and the suffering of the working class.
First published in 1851, Eliza Lynn Linton's Realities met with near-unanimous disdain from critics, who decried its "repulsive portraits" and its tendency to "shock and disgust". This new edition, the first-ever reprinting of the novel, includes the unabridged text of the original three-volume edition as well as a new introduction and notes by Deborah T. Meem and the text of contemporary reviews.