Braddon was a prolific writer, producing more than 80 novels with inventive plots. The most famous is Lady Audley's Secret (1862), which won her recognition and a fortune as a bestseller. It has remained in print since its publication and been dramatised and filmed several times. R. D. Blackmore's anonymous sensation novel Clara Vaughan (1864) was wrongly attributed to her by some critics.
Braddon wrote several works of supernatural fiction, including the pact with the devil story Gerald, or the World, the Flesh and the Devil (1891), and the ghost stories "The Cold Embrace", "Eveline's Visitant" and "At Chrighton Abbey". From the 1930s onwards, these stories were often anthologised in collections such as Montague Summers's The Supernatural Omnibus (1931) and Fifty Years of Ghost Stories (1935). Braddon also wrote historical fiction. In High Places depicts the youth of Charles I. London Pride focuses on Charles II. Mohawks is set during the reign of Queen Anne. Ishmael is set at the time of Napoleon III's rise to power.
Braddon founded Belgravia magazine (1866), which presented readers with serialised sensation novels, poems, travel narratives and biographies, along with essays on fashion, history and science. It was accompanied by lavish illustrations and offered a source of literature at an affordable cost. She also edited Temple Bar magazine.
There is a critical essay on Braddon's work in Michael Sadleir's book Things Past (1944). In 2014 the Mary Elizabeth Braddon Association was founded to pay tribute to Braddon's life and work.
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