Victorian Popular Fictions 6.1 4 Bliss


Vocal Trophies: Property and Narration in The String of Pearls

Sarah Bliss

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This article on James Malcolm Rymer’s popular penny blood, The String of Pearls (1846-7), examines how property functions as another type of narrator within the story. Frequently, the text’s actual narrator displays either an inability or unwillingness to disclose crucial information, such as what happens in Todd’s shop when his customers appear to vanish. However, the proliferation of objects left behind by these customers, including their hats, canes, and the eponymous pearls, subtly reveals the solution to the mystery. Thus, this property possesses a type of narrative agency. Property operates collaboratively with the story’s restricted narrator to prolong the narrative and foster suspense, while encouraging the reader to serve as an amateur detective alongside the story’s characters. By implementing a restricted narrator and supplementing those restrictions with the highly suggestive and revealing movements of property, Rymer underscores both the centrality of property in the Victorian world and demonstrates how that property itself constitutes a series of miniature “texts” for interpretation.


The String of Pearls; Sweeney Todd; property; narrator; restricted narrator; objects; penny dreadfuls; penny bloods; suspense

Date of Acceptance: 24 June 2024

Date of Publication: 28 June 2024

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Bliss, Sarah. 2024. “Vocal Trophies: Property and Narration in The String of Pearls.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 6.1: 44-56. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI:

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