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In this article, I argue for a reconsideration of the roman à clef, using Caroline Lamb’s Glenarvon (1816) as a case study. I challenge the conventional narrative of the rise of the novel that labels the roman à clef as a vestigial form with no place in relation to the dominant realist novel. In making this argument, I establish a social reading practice, singular to romans à clef, using archival materials to illustrate the ways in which Regency readers circulated keys and gossip about Glenarvon and Lamb’s life as a part of their response to the novel. Such a reading practice opens up possibilities for a marginalized writer, especially a marginalized female writer like Lamb, to disseminate gossip about herself as a way to enter a literary marketplace.