Tales of the Heart (1820)

The last of Opie’s collections of shorter prose works, Tales of the Heart was completed at a period when the author was becoming increasingly concerned with the morality represented in her stories as she grew increasingly committed to the tenets of the Society of Friends. Yet she retained the balanced picture of human frailty and the desire for ideal conduct that marked her earlier works. As the reviewer for La Belle Assemblée comments, “What we admire particularly in the heroines that Mrs. Opie draws, is that they are neither paragons of perfection, nor are they, on the other hand, depicted of so atrocious a character, as to make human nature shudder, and the female sex blush at the enormity of their vices: the fair author of the Tales of the Heart paints life exactly as it is; yet the elegance of her manner in relating the artless interest of every-day life, fascinates while it amuses” [n.s. 22 (Nov 1820): 236].  She also continued to include original verses within the tales.


Volume I

“Love, Mystery, and Superstition” (1-276)

“After the Ball; or, The Two Sir Williams” (277-350)

Volume II

“The Two Sons” (1-200)

“A Woman’s Love, and A Wife’s Duty” (201-419)

Volume III

“A Wife’s Duty, being a continuation of a ‘Woman’s Love'” (1-396) [published separately as A Wife’s Duty, A Tale by Grove and Son, 1847]

Volume IV

“The Opposite Neighbour: A Story Founded on a Well-Authenticated Fact” (1-104) [published separately as The Opposite Neighbour, and, Woman’s Love  by Grove and Son,1847)

“Happy Faces; or, Benevolence and Selfishness” (105-353) [published separately as Happy faces; or, Benevolence and selfishness and The Revenge by S.O. Beeton, 1830]


Tales of the Heart. 4 vols. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820.


Literary Chronicle, vol. 2, July 22, 1820, pp. 466-7.

Lady’s Monthly Museum, series 3, vol. 12, Aug. 1820, pp. 95-8.

(Gold’s) London Literary Magazine, vol. 2, Aug. 1820, pp. 178-80.

Monthly Review, ns, vol. 92, Aug. 1820, pp. 375-87.

Monthly Magazine, vol. 50, Sept. 1820, p. 168.

La Belle Assemblee, ns, vol. 22, Nov. 1820, pp. 236-7.