Thursday, 19 October 2017

Early Reviews of Haywood's Memoirs of Utopia (1725–26)

The following note and editorial addition, concerning Haywood's Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia, appears in the Critical Review, 4 (November 1757): 272 (online here):

To the Author of the Critical Review.

  LAST winter a book called Modern Lovers was published, pr. 3 s. but in fact was only part of The Memoirs of Utopia. This month the same publisher has exhibited a book called Prostitutes of Quality, which is likewise extracted from Memoirs of Utopia, and yesterday a book was published, called Memoirs of B— Tracey, which in fact is only a part of an absence book, called A History of the Human Heart, which is not fit to be read by the public.

Nov. 26, 1757.
      Your obedient servant,
            T. L.

N. B. The authors of The Critical Review are obliged to T. L. for the above letter; and should be obliged to him for the same sort of information hereafter; for they would heartily join him in detecting such notorious and infamous impositions on the public.

The four works mentioned here are:

[1] Modern Lovers; Or, The Adventures of Cupid, the God of Love: A Novel (London: Printed for J. Cooke, at the King’s-Arms, in Great-Turnstile, Holbourn, 1756); ESTC: t66385.

[2] Prostitutes of Quality; Or, Adultery á-la-mode. Being Authentic and Genuine Memoirs of Several Persons of the Highest Quality (London: Printed for J. Cooke, and J. Coote, opposite Devereux-Court, in the Strand, 1757); ESTC: t46030.

[3] Memoirs of B— Tracey (London: Printed for J. King, in Great Turnstile, Holborn, [1757]); ESTC: t118902.

[4] A History of the Human Heart; Or, The Adventures of a Young Gentleman (London: Printed for J. Freeman, 1749); ESTC: n17696.

* * * * *

Putting aside, for a moment, the question of whether [1] Modern Lovers and [2] Prostitutes of Quality are, in fact, "only part of The Memoirs of Utopia"—the other two works are certainly related to each other: [3] Memoirs of B— Tracey is "in fact is only a part of" [4] A History of the Human Heart—about two-thirds of the former being a word-for-word reprint of the latter (i.e., about 214 of 314 pages). Both titles appear in George Colman's imaginary "Catalogue of a Circulating Library," as nos. 142 and 89, which I posted here.

T. L. wasn’t the only person to comment on the thefts. The Monthly Review, notes Memoirs of B— Tracey is “All stolen from a wretched book, published about seven years ago, entitled, The History of the Human Heart; and now imposed upon the Public for a new Work.” And the reviewer at Annales typographiques comments on “Mémoires du baron Tracey,” that it is “Pillé d'un mauvais livre publié il y a sept ans, intitulé: The history of the human heart [Stolen from a wicked book published seven years ago, entitled: The history of the human heart].

* * * * *

As for [1] Modern Lovers and [2] Prostitutes of Quality (Coleman nos. 153 and 163): both are comprised exclusively of unauthorised reprints from Haywood’s Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia (1725–26), 2 vols. The eighteen chapters of Modern Lovers being very lightly revised, out-of-sequence excerpts from Memoirs of Utopia (1725), 61–71, 89–91, 103–25, 140–74, 177–94, 196–210, 260–74; the six stories in Prostitutes of Quality being even more lightly revised, out-of-sequence excerpts from Memoirs of Utopia (1725), 58–71, 72–120, 121–26, 126–56, 265–75 and Memoirs of Utopia, vol.2 (1726), 126–40.

The publisher of these two unautorised reprints, J. Cooke, appended the following to his first volume of stolen text:

I am but just commenced Author, and therefore cannot form any Judgment of my Ability to please or instruct the Public; but one Thing I can venture to promise, that if this Performance meets with a general Approbation, the Public shall hear again from their
      Most obedient Servant,

The publisher's misdirection continued in the Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, 10 November 1756, where Cooke notes "Great Enquiry having been made to discover the Author of this Performance; this is to assure the Public … that the Characters herein are all general, and not pointed at any particular Person, as hath been most falsely suggested.”

In 1756, the Monthly Review did not recognise Cooke desception, commenting only that Cupid “is here made to relate a number of silly, barren stories, each chapter being a distinct history," and noting that "At the end of the book, the public is threatned with a future visitation from the same quarter.” That "future visitation" was [2] Prostitutes of Quality.

With the publication of Prostitutes of Quality in 1757, both the Critical Review and Monthly Review recognised Cooke desception. The Critical Review is quoted at the start of this post—the Monthly Review adds that Prostitutes of Quality is “Cull’d from the lewd Eutopian romances that so much delighted the chamber-maids and ’prentices of the last age:—Surely, such wretched author-craft cannot fail of its reward!”

What is particularly interesting here is to see the reaction of reviewers when confronted with Haywood’s early work—after her death—work that was published before any of these journals, dedicated to reviewing literature, were established. The Monthly Review described the passages from Memoirs of Utopia as "silly, barren stories" in 1756, and “lewd” and “wretched” in 1757, but there is a back-handed complement, a grudging recognition, that the book “delighted … chamber-maids and ’prentices.” T. L., however, identifies all of the works he(?) mentions as “not fit to be read by the public.”

* * * * *

BTW: I am not really sure what "an absence book" is, unless absence is Latinate pun with ab- and sense: ab- being a prefix meaning "off, away, from" and, therefore, absence may be synonymous with something like "senseless." But this is a stretch. If there is an accepted meaning of this word/phrase, I am not familiar with, and neither are the editors of the OED.

Alternatively, "an absence book" may be a book in which absentees from Sunday School were noted, i.e., a naughty-book. The phrase is first recorded in the early nineteenth-century, but may be earlier. See, for instance, here in Hints for Conducting Sunday Schools (1811).

[NOTE: this is a revised and expanded version of a post I did almost six years ago.]

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Haywood's Distress'd Orphan — as a web comic!

Arden Powell has been inspired to adapt Eliza Haywood's The Distress'd Orphan; or, Love in a Madhouse (1726) into a web comic, under the title: Madhouse. (Madhouse doesn't have an exclamation mark, but I think it should be Madhouse!)

The first five pages will be posted today (Wednesday, 4 October 2017), with one new page every Wednesday thereafter until the complete novella is up.

According to Earla Wilputte, Arden hopes to build a large enough readership to pitch the project to publishers in the following year.

You can find "5 Reasons to Read Madhouse" here (one not mentioned is the lovely artwork), and a sample (The Garden Date) here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Macmillan's New Cranford Series and Illustrated Standard Novels in Dust Jackets

In 2011, I posted images of the dust jacket of my 1896 copy of Thomas Love Peacock's Gryll Grange here and here; that copy has now been donated to the Monash Library, as a part of my Thomas Love Peacock collection, but is yet to be catalogued.

Before I gave up my Peacock collection last year, I had been keeping an eye open for any more Peacock volumes from Macmillan's New Cranford Series and Illustrated Standard Novels in dust jackets or wrappers, but without any luck. I did, however, occasionally find other volumes from Macmillan’s New Cranford Series (1890–96) in dust jackets, so I thought I should do a post on them, add any images to that post which I might find in future.

Here today are the two jackets that I collected images of (two titles, two copies of the first), plus a few pictures of my old copy of Gryll Grange. The prices being asked for Cranford are eye-watering (approaching two thousand pounds), so it is not surprising that the books remain available two years after I spotted them! But the copy of Coridon’s Song is only a USD245—a bargain—I don't understand why nobody has snapped it up!

* * * * *

[1] Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford, With a Preface by Anne Thackeray Ritchie, illus. Hugh Thomson (London: Macmillan, 1891), large paper copy, ltd. to 300 copies; in plain red publisher's cloth with paper spine label.

[2] Austin Dobson, Coridon’s Song and Other Verses from Various Sources, Introduction by Austen Dobson, illus. By Hugh Thomson (London: Macmillan, 1894), pictorial black cloth with titles and illustration stamped in gilt, a.e.g.

[3] Thomas Love Peacock, Gryll Grange, Introduction by George Sainsbury, illus. F. H. Townsend (London: Macmillan, 1896), red cloth.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Scale of Female Literary Merit, 1792

On 4 June 2014, Dr Jennie Batchelor did a Tweet (here) about a 1792 "Scale of Female Literary Merit" that appeared in The Lady’s Magazine; and on 15 December 2014, she did a Blog post (here) about it. The Tweet provided the year (only), the blog entry, the name of the journal plus the year and month (only). The Blog was an improvement on the Tweet, but — since the list looks useful — I wanted to know little more. So here is the "Scale" and a little more information.

The full reference for this is: "The Scale of Female Literary Merit," The Lady’s Magazine, 23 (June 1792): 290; online here. (NB: the caption in Batchelor's blog entry provides the wrong volume number.)

Batchelor's tweet seems to have prompted Melissa Sodeman to post this February 2015 blog entry titled "Measuring Up: On the vexing history of assessing women’s literary achievements", which cites an earlier newspaper article —itself a response to a yet-earlier "Scale of Genius" that had ranked male writers (full citatation: "Scale of the Female Genius of this Country in the Year MDCCXCII”, The Star (2 April 1792); not online). In fact, Sodeman had cited and reproduced The Star "Scale" in her Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), 125–26, which was published in November 2014, so she appears to have been mining her own book in response to Batchelor.

Although Batchelor undoubtedly located this "Scale" herself, as her Tweet claims, the Lady’s Magazine "Scale" was cited by Monica Cristina Soare in the same year in The Female Gothic Connoisseur: Reading, Subjectivity, and the Feminist Uses of Gothic Fiction (PhD, thesis, UC Berkeley, [Northern] Spring 2014), 136; and had been reproduced eight years earlier in the facsimile collection Women and Romanticism, 1790–1830, ed. Roxanne Eberle, 5 vols. (London: Routledge, 2006), 3.18.

So, unless I can find an even-older reference, the credit for the re-discovery and earliest mention of the "Scale" goes to Roxanne Eberle, Associate Professor at the University of Georgia.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Tell me, O! Eliza Haywood!

The following quote is from the long-forgotten Richard Savage, edited, with occasional notes by Charles Whitehead, Illustrated by John Leech, Bentley’s Miscellany, vol. 8–10 (London: Richard Bentley, 1842), 9.38–39 (here):

I was silent. To say the truth, I managed that scene — for, after all, it must be so called — very awkwardly. And yet the case itself was scenic; and upon a little reflection it will be admitted that the manner of performance ought to have very little to do with the question. Tell me, O Eliza Haywood !* thou great genius of modern fiction! thou, who knowest, or sayest thou dost know, all the passions and feelings that work or play in the bosom of mankind, (would that thou wouldst depict them better!), tell me what ought to have been done upon that occasion, and how?
  I was silent, I have said; but at length I answered …

* Eliza Haywood, although now nearly forgotten, attained during her life-time to an enviable celebrity. Pope, in his Dunciad, has heaped terrible infamy upon her head. Her plays I have not seen; but I have looked into her novels — of which ‘The History of Betsy Thoughtless’ and ‘Jenny and Jemmy Jessamy’ are the most considerable. They possess no common degree of merit, but are altogether unfit for modern perusal.

Whitehead's serialised novel, the Introduction to which claimed that is was an "autobiographical memoir" (8.20), was reprinted in Bentley's Standard Novels, without notes, re-written and with the ending changed (!—according to Royal Gettmann here), as Richard Savage. A Romance of Real Life, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1842), with the quote at 2.63–64 (here); it was reprinted, again without notes, and with further edits, including the removal of the paragraph mentioning Haywood, Richard Savage. A Romance of Real Life, A New Edition, with an introduction by Harvey Orrinsmith (London: Richard Bentley, 1896), with the relevant section on page 185 (here).

In a biography of 1884 (in the title of which he was already being described as "A Forgotten Genius"), H. T. Mackenzie Bell describes Richard Savage as "unquestionably Whitehead's greatest work" and repeats the claim of one "Miss Hogarth … that she had often heard Dickens speak with 'great admiration' of the novel Richard Savage" (H. T. Mackenzie Bell, A Forgotten Genius: Charles Whitehead: A Critical Monograph (London 1884; 2nd ed., with some additional material, 1894), 24; online here).

Charles Whitehead was born 4 September 1804, left for Australia 1857 and died in Melbourne Hospital, 5 July 1862. Since this makes Whitehead an honourary Australian, a Melbournian in fact, the Australian Dictionary of Biography contains an entry for him (here), but the National Library of Australia contains only one, incomplete poem of his in manuscript (an attack on H. F. Watts, editor of the Melbourne Argus, sent to Bell by James Smith, editor of the Australasian) and copies of his "greatest work" are scarce in Australian libraries (only three copies of each of the 1842 and 1896 editions). According to the ADB, Whitehead was an alcoholic, impoverished and sometimes homeless; his wife was "mentally deranged" and had died in 1860, he "was picked up exhausted in the street," died (at aged 58) and "was buried in a pauper's grave."

Whitehead's romantic biography of Savage is one of many fictionalised accounts of the writer but—as far as I know—the only one which mentions Haywood, even in passing. Although Whitehead was probably right that, in 1842, Haywood was "now nearly forgotten"—it is nevertheless amusing that he refers to her as such, since even the great John Leech and the justly celebrated Bentley's Standard Novels have not kept his own work from being even more forgotten than Haywood's works were at the time. Likewise, although it is nice to have a record of a Haywood reader from this period ("I have looked into her novels … They possess no common degree of merit"), his peroration (that they are "altogether unfit for modern perusal") is what has landed him a place on my Wall of Shame.