Alas these days, the thing he is most likely to be remembered for is the line "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night," the full quote of which has been famously derided as a shameless example of Purple Prose. It inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. If he is remembered for a another thing, it is likely for telling his good friend Charles Dickens that Dickens should change the ending for Great Expectations, which Dickens subsequently did.
His more famous works include:
- Paul Clifford (1830), source of the famous "dark and stormy night" opening.
- The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), which has been adapted into a number of films and theatrical performances in recent years.
- Zanoni (1842), a Gothic Novel notable for staying true to the Rosicrucian mythos in depicting them as a Christian Ancient Tradition, rather than revolutionary conspiracy. That Bulwer-Lytton was allegedly a Rosicrucian himself probably helped.
- The Coming Race (1871; later republished as Vril: The Power of the Coming Race), a foray into Science Fiction inspired by his lifelong interest in the occult. According to rumors, it served as the inspiration for both a British occult secret society and Bovril.