When the Suez Canal was completed to world fanfare in 1869, the British were shocked that they did not make it themselves. As we have seen, there was no reason that they could not have built it. They had the most prepared set of vessels to navigate the Canal and an industry poised to build new steamships. They had a skilled body of workers and engineers. And they had the right political connections with Turkey and Egypt. Most importantly, they had the need, a direct route to India. So why didn’t the British build the Suez Canal? Perhaps they did not have the right character. In this chapter I posit a relation between market forces and novelistic enterprise in the shaping of the nation’s imperial character/s. And I argue that the demands of empire helped to renew the character of the British novel.