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Trilby, published in 1894, fits into the gothic horror genre which was undergoing a revival during the Fin de siècle and is one of the most popular novels of its time, perhaps the second best selling novel of the Fin de siècle period after Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The story of the poor artist’s model Trilby O’Ferrall, transformed into a diva under the spell of the evil musical genius Svengali, created a sensation. Soap, songs, dances, toothpaste, and Trilby, Florida were all named for the heroine, and a variety of soft felt hat with an indented crown (worn in the London stage production of a dramatization of the novel) came to be called a trilby. The plot inspired Gaston Leroux’s 1910 potboiler Phantom of the Opera and the innumerable works derived from it, and introduced the phrase “in the altogether” (meaning “completely unclothed”) to the English language.
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