- Biography & Autobiography
- The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood
The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood
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The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood (1915) is a monograph by George Whicher. Highly regarded by feminist scholars today, Haywood was a prolific writer who revolutionized the English novel while raising a family, running a pamphlet shop in Covent Gardens, and pursuing a career as an actress and writer for some of London’s most prominent theaters. In The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood, Whicher blends biography and literary criticism in order to present an authoritative vision of the life and career of one of England’s most influential and misunderstood writers. Notoriously private, Haywood is a major figure in English literature about whom little is known for certain. Scholars believe she was born Eliza Fowler in Shropshire or London, but are unclear on the socioeconomic status of her family. She first appears in the public record in 1715, when she performed in an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens in Dublin. Famously portrayed as a woman of ill-repute in Alexander Pope’s Dunciad (1743), it is believed that Haywood had been deserted by her husband to raise their children alone. Pope’s account is likely to have come from poet Richard Savage, with whom Haywood was friends for several years beginning in 1719 before their falling out. This period coincided with the publication of Love in Excess (1719-1720), Haywood’s first and best-known novel. Alongside Delarivier Manley and Aphra Behn, Haywood was considered one of the leading romance writers of her time. Haywood’s novels, such as Idalia; or The Unfortunate Mistress (1723), The Distress’d Orphan; or Love in a Madhouse (1726), and The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751) often explore the domination and oppression of women by men. In The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood, George Whicher does the best he can with an incomplete record to renew academic interest in the work of an iconic storyteller. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of George Whicher’s The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood is a classic of English literary criticism reimagined for modern readers.