Mr Norrell's introduction
A Letter to the Editor of The Times
A GRAVE WARNING TO UNSUSPECTING PERSONS
A report has reached me of a most alarming nature. It appears that some people called Bloomsbury are taking it upon themselves to publish a pernicious book - a novel no less! - that purports to describe the Glorious Revival of English Magic. I do not read novels - I am happy to say that I have never read one - but I understand that they enjoy a certain popularity among the more frivolous classes of society. Young ladies; married ladies; old maids; thoughtless young persons of both sexes; gamblers, profligates and libertines; servants who, whether by accident or design, have acquired an education beyond their station: these are the idle creatures who may be found at any hour of the night or day with a novel in their hands.
I despise all novels whatever the subject. I am told they promote a weakening of the intellect, moral stupor, morbid curiosity, and tend to encourage infections of the chest and eyes. All this is very dreadful but happily it is no concern of mine. But when that novel pretends to disseminate information upon English Magic - ah! then I must protest. Then it is incumbent upon me to warn the British Public of the terrible danger they run merely by opening this book.
As the architect and founder of the aforesaid Glorious Revival, I hope that my disapproval, my severe disapproval, will have some weight with these people called Bloomsbury (whoever they may be). I hope that when they learn they have incurred my displeasure they will cease upon the instant and not print this wicked book. If they remain obstinate, then I shall apply to my friends in the Government. I am not without hopes of success.
I am told that Messrs. Bloomsbury intend to publish this book in other countries. If some gentleman at the Foreign Office will be so kind as to furnish me with a list of those countries we consider our allies (I confess to experiencing some confusion upon this point), I shall be happy to have this letter translated into the relevant languages at my own expense. With the Former Colonies of the Americas, however, I have no sympathy. It is scarcely more than thirty or forty years since that impudent Nation severed itself from its lawful King with acts of wicked rebellion. By all means let this book be published there! If the Americans try to learn magic from it and if they accidentally turn themselves into cats or summon up manticores which consequently devour them, then I cannot see that it will be any great loss to any one.
Gilbert Norrell, Magician-in-Ordinary to the Admiralty
© Susanna Clarke 2004