Constance Herbert was published in 1855. Charles Herbert, has been refused the hand of Kate Hatherton, a farmer’s daughter, in marriage, but he meets her again when he returns from Bombay to take over the family estate, the Chauntry. He is now engaged to the trusting and pleasant Miss Wilmot, whose affection is blighted when Charles decides that he must break off with her and marry Kate after all. Kate bears Charles Herbert a daughter, Constance, and becomes insane, subject to the delusion that he is really married to Miss Wilmot, and is taken to an asylum. When Constance grows up she learns of her mother’s sad history, and decides that she should not marry and run the risk of passing on insanity to her children....
Jewsbury was born in Measham, then in Derbyshire, now in Leicestershire. She was the daughter of Thomas Jewsbury (d. 1840), a cotton manufacturer and merchant, and his wife Maria, née Smith, (d. 1819). The family moved to Manchester in 1818, after her father's business failed. After her mother died, she was brought up by her sister Maria Jane Jewsbury. In 1841 Geraldine Jewsbury met the Carlyles. Thomas Carlyle pronounced her "one of the most interesting young women I have seen for years, delicate sense & courage looking out of her small sylph-like figure." Jewsbury has earned a place in literature in three respects: as a novelist, as a critic and publisher's reader, and as a figure in London literary life. Jewsbury was primarily a novelist of ideas and moral dilemmas.
Athenaeum, 1855 — Constance Herbert is a poem in its beauty and its lofty purpose—a romance in its variety and fascination. The tale, as a tale, is deeply interesting: full of quiet pathos and a calm and beautiful morality. It will be read with rare pleasure, and remembered with healthful interest.
Examiner, 1855 — Constance Herbert is deeply interesting—full of power and earnestness.
Littell's Living Age, 1855 — In her novel, Constance Herbert — which, by the way, has made more noise than any of its predecessors — Miss G. Jewsbury takes entirely new ground, and converts into an anachronism every parallel henceforth to be drawn between herself and Georges Sand — unless, indeed, Georges Sand takes new ground too.