Ethel M. Dell, the author of twenty best-selling novels published before and after the first world war, also produced eight volumes of short stories. Each novel features an introductory poem. When she began writing for publication she had no familiarity with the world beyond suburban southern England, combining sexual ignorance with intense erotic feeling. Her simple creed, in the words of the Feminist Companion, was "courage, Empire, and protection of women, 'the first primaeval instinct of human chivalry.'" Bound up in her works with delicate, upper-class women's need for protection are the admired virtues of chivalry, the horrors of sadistic domination, and a distaste for lower rungs of the social scale.