I ran across this interesting book that lists the various romantic novels from the 19th Century. Below is the opening section followed by a link to Google Books where you can download a copy of this book. AS a writer of romance novels this could prove interesting for you as an author for the characters of novels.
Romantic Novels are divided into two classes,—those which are and those which are not, historical. This list is devoted to the latter, but a few historical tales, in which history is at a minimum, have been included. An excellent bibliografy of Historical Fiction exists in the L. H. catalog of the Boston Public Library.
"No author without a trial can conceive of the difficulty of writing a romance about a country where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor anything but a commonplace prosperity in broad and simple dayllt, as is happily the case with my dear native land. It will be very long, I trust, before romancewriters may find congenial and easily handled themes either in the annals of our stalwart republic, or in any characteristic and probable event of our individual lives. Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens, and wall flowers, need ruin to make them grow." [ Nathaniel Hawthorne.
4iFew'things are more conclusively established in this commonplace day and practical land than the utter abolition of the romantic element of life. People who read Mrs. Radcliffe and the Ledger—and there are those besides ourselves, we are credibly informed, who are in the habit of reading both—must often heave a si of regret for the vanished and delltful mysteries commemorated in those obsolete but fascinating pages. Not the subtlest effort of imagination can again people the prosaic walks of daily life with the weird shapes that haunted every nook and corridor of Otranto's enchanted and enchanting castle. The lonely wayside inn which was wont to be the very nursery and stronghold of romance has become disgustingly commonplace and safe. No ingenious trapdoor opens to engulf the slumber of the unsuspecting traveler; no horrent spectre with flaming eyes and hollow voice emerges from the wall to menace and dismay; no lovely and compassionate barmaid clambers in at the window to warn of the murderous landlord and to save from his sanguinary toils; no foe the chance sojourner has to dread more deadly than the susurrant mosquito or the insidious cimex. The secret doors and hidden stairways and subterranean passages, the unbodied voices, the irresponsible skeletons, and unaccountable knits who made beautiful and thrilling the ways of a preternatural past, have forever disappeared. That whole charming web of mediaeval romance the ruthless besom of modern enlltenment has swept into dust and oblivion. We are encompassed with an atmosfere of almost oppressive reality, and it is a genuine relief when some unusually ingenious murder or flagrant fall of unsuspected respectability gives us a brief respite from the tyranny of the commonplace." [ Round Table.
The object of this list is to direct readers, such as would enjoy the kind of books here described, to a number of novels, easily obtainable, but which, in many cases, have been forgotten within a year or two after publication. That the existence of works of fiction is remembered so short a time is a pity, since, for every new book of merit, there are, in most libraries, a hundred as good or better, unknown to the majority of readers. It is hoped that the publication of this and similar lists icill lessen, in some measure, the disposition to read an inferior New book when superior Old books, equally fresh to most readers, are at hand.
This list will be followed by others describing EUROPEAN, ECCENTRIC, and FANCIFUL novels and tales. The compiler would be pleased to have his attention called to any works deserving a place which have escaped his attention. It may be observed that the compiler has tried to include only such works as are ^i}ell-written, interesting, and are free from sensationalism, sentimentality, and pretense. But in a few cases, books have been noticed on account of the reputation of their authors, or their great popularity,»ather than their merit.
The selected "notices" here given are generally abridged.
Descriptive List of Romantic Novels1890
Descriptive List of American, International Romantic and British Novels1891