This article traces a single plot—the plot of bigamous return—through a range of genres and texts, including Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (1862) and Alfred Tennyson’s “Enoch Arden” (1864), concentrating on Elizabeth Gaskell’s Sylvia’s Lovers (1863). Arguing that plot is a more productive heuristic than genre, this article investigates the intersection of literary currents in one historical moment with the long durée of a recurring story, powerfully present in nautical ballads and melodrama.

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