Tales of Real Life (1813)

In 1813, the year in which Tales of Real Life were published, Opie remained an active participant in the literary circles of London. Brightwell records a letter in which Opie details her experiences “at a soirée, given by Madame de Staël, which was particularly interesting, from its having been composed chiefly of the élite of London society” (146). She also notes that “Love and Duty” was one of Opie’s own favourite tales, but wrongly assigns this work from Simple Tales to Tales of Real Life. Opie’s work continued to command some interest on the Continent, and the first tale, “Lady Anne and Lady Jane,” was translated into French and published separately as La dissipatrice, ou Lady Elenn et Lady Anna by Theodore Pierre Bertin in 1815.

The Monthly Review notes: “While some authors are satisfied with merely amusing, and others almost affront their readers by the pertinacity of their admonitions, Mrs Opie appears to take a happy medium; generally proposing to herself to shew the effects of some virtue or the consequences of some error, and seldom losing sight of this object, though she courteously allows her readers to draw their own conclusions from her tales” (Monthly Review vol 72, 1813, p. 326).


Volume I

“Lady Anne and Lady Jane. A Tale” (1-320)

Volume II

“Appearance is Against Her. A Tale” (1-294) [Published separately as Appearance is Against Her: A Tale by Grove and Son, 1847]

Volume III

“Austin and His Wife. A Tale” (1-154)

“The Mysterious Stranger. A Tale, Founded on Fact” (155-296) [Published separately as The Mysterious Stranger ; and, The Orphan :  Tales by Grove, 1846; and for the juvenile market as The Mysterious Stranger and Other Tales by Darton and Hodge, 1870.]


Tales of Real Life. 3 vols., London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown,

[No second edition located]

—–. 3rd ed., 3 vols., London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1816.


Monthly Review, vol.72, 1813, pp. 326-7.

Critical Review, series 4, vol.4 , Aug 1813, pp. 190-200.

British Critic, ns, vol. 2 , Dec. 1814, pp. 653-4.

Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 85, no. 1, May 1815, pp. 433-4.