Illustrations of Lying in All its Branches (1825)

On 11 August 1825, Amelia Opie was admitted to membership in the Society of Friends. She had long been closely acquainted with the Gurney family of Norwich, among the most prominent Quakers in the area, and for many years had been moving closer to embracing its tenets. For a novelist such as Opie, the Quaker prohibition on fiction as falsehood posed some sacrifices. Illustrations of Lying in all its Branches treads a fine line between fiction and non-fiction, as it alternates between moral discourse considering various forms of lying and brief anecdotal tales to illustrate each one.

            This work proved more popular in America than it did in Britain. Brightwell reports that “Some years afterwards, when Mrs. Opie was at Paris, she was introduced to several American friends, who cordially greeted her, thanking her for this book, which they assured her was universally acknowledged to have done good in their country; and that it had found its way into the cottages in the interior and might be seen there, well thumbed by frequent use” [192]. Interestingly, when Grove and Son brought out their many volumes of Opie’s works in the 1840s, they did not reproduce Illustrations of Lying, but rather excerpted most of the tales, omitting the moral discussion introducing them, under the title The Stage Coach and Other Tales.


Volume I

Ch. 1 “Introduction”

Ch. 2 On the Active and Passive Lies of Vanity–“The Stage Coach”; “Unexpected Discoveries”

Ch. 3 On the Lies of Flattery–“The Turban”

Ch. 4 Lies of Fear–“The Bank Note”

Ch. 5 Lies falsely called Lies of Benevolence–“A Tale of Potted Spratts”; “An Authoress and her Auditors”

Ch. 6 Lies of Convenience–“Projects Defeated”

Ch. 7 Lies of Interest–“The Skreen”

Ch 8 Lies of First-Rate Malignity–“The Orphan”

Ch. 9 Lies of Second-Rate Malignity–“The Old Gentleman and the Young One”

Ch. 10 Lies of Benevolence

Volume II

Ch. 10 (Continued) Lies of Benevolence–“Mistaken Kindness; “Father and Son”

Ch. 11 Lies of Wantonness and Practical Lies

Ch. 12 Our own Experience of the Painful Results of Lying

Ch. 13 Lying the most common of all Vices

Ch. 14 Extracts from Lord Bacon and others

Ch. 15 Observations on the Extracts from Hawkesworth and others

Ch. 16 Religion the only Basis of Truth

Ch. 17 The same subject continued; Conclusion


Illustrations of Lying in All its Branches. 2 vols. London/Norwich: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme,Brown and Green/S. Wilkin, 1825.

—–. 2nd ed.  London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825.

—–. 3rd ed.  London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1827.


Iris, ns, 3-4 (15-22 Jan. 1825): 39-43, 54-7.

Ladies’ Monthly Museum, ns, vol. 21, 1825, pp. 164-5.

London Magazine, ns, vol. 2, 1825, pp. 103-14.

The Literary Gazette, vol. 9, 1825, p. 134