Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Teaching Mary Robinson's The Natural Daughter (1799) in Context

Lisa M. Wilson, SUNY Potsdam


  1. Although the number of Romantic-period novels available in paperback editions suitable for teaching has increased dramatically in recent years, coverage of the novel in undergraduate courses devoted to surveying Romanticism generally remain focused on a short list of titles with Mary Shelly's Frankenstein being perhaps the most common choice.[1] Other frequent choices include a short gothic novel (Walpole's Castle of Otranto, Radcliffe's Sicilian Romance) or a Jane Austen title (Pride and Prejudice), or both (Northanger Abbey with excerpts from Mysteries of Udolpho). Such choices indicate laudable efforts to include prose fiction in surveys of Romanticism that have traditionally focused on poetry. They may also be dictated by other legitimate pedagogical concerns such as familiarity (or canonicity), length of selection and readability, and diversity of genre or author; however, I argue that Mary Robinson's 1799 novel The Natural Daughter deserves serious consideration on any such syllabus because of the ways in which the novel employs both sentimental and satirical literary strategies to engage with key issues such as authorship and celebrity, women's labor, and the culture of conspicuous consumption.

  2. In The Natural Daughter, her final novel, Robinson constructs her social and literary satire around a sentimental novel plot line, one that features an unjustly accused heroine persecuted by vulgar relatives, immoral aristocratic seducers, and a hypocritical husband. Martha Bradford, later Mrs. Morley, becomes a social outcast when she befriends an orphan whom everyone thinks must be her own "natural daughter" or illegitimate child. Abandoned by her family and her husband, Mrs. Morley attempts to support herself by working in a variety of positions open to bourgeois women. The novel examines the various mechanisms used to maintain social and literary celebrity and personal reputation, and centrally concerns itself, not to reject the goal of celebrity entirely, but to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate sources of fame.

  3. Robinson forwards the notion of a meritocracy of talents supported by a free marketplace and applies them to women's intellectual labor. The targets of Robinson's satire—rakish aristocrats, hypocritical society women, social-climbing cits—all hope for undeserved fame gained through external markers of social success. They stake their reputations on fine clothing and showy equipages, ostentatious charity-giving or artistic patronage, purchased publicity, public reputations for chastity and virtue that hide private vice, and melodramatic expressions of sensibility. We can see The Natural Daughter, then, as Robinson's defense of a bourgeois culture of sensibility and self-restraint and her protest against a stereotypically aristocratic culture of conspicuous consumption.

  4. Robinson sets up Martha, her heroine, and Mrs. Sedgeley, Martha's actress friend, as models of true virtue, sensibility, and genius; in Mellor's terms, they appeal to readers for sympathy as both "talented performers" and "unprotected" wives, much as Robinson herself does in her 1801 Memoirs (231). Against them Robinson poses the foil of Martha's hypocritical and debased sister Julia. The women also suffer at the hands of a range of satirized characters such as the fatally self-indulgent Alderman Bradford; the vulgar, social-climbing, and aptly-named Leadenheads; the ignorant literary patron lady Eldercourt and her pert femme de chamber; and the cynical publisher Mr. Index. In this way, Robinson's novel goes beyond those truisms of the sentimental novel to protest against a media culture that systematized private gossip into public satire.[2] It is also remarkable for suggesting that such a culture of luxury and celebrity has negative consequences, not only for unprotected women but also for talented individuals.

  5. Sharon Setzer's 2003 Broadview edition of Robinson's novel, paired with the 1799 political pamphlet A Letter to the Women of England, provides instructors with an accessible and intelligently-edited teaching text. Students enjoy the way Robinson's highly readable two-volume novel employs comic devices to forward its serious social critique; more importantly, the novel can be taught in relationship to many of the literary texts and historical contexts we cover in surveys of Romanticism and so can provide an outstanding opportunity to synthesize course themes through discussion of a single novel. When paired with the Romantics volume of standard anthologies like the Longman Anthology of British Literature, vol. 2A, (Wolfson and Manning, eds.); the Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. D, (Stillinger and Lynch, eds.); or with period-focused anthologies such as Mellor and Matlak's British Literature: 1780-1830, or Wu's Romanticism: An Anthology, the novel can be fruitfully read alongside anthology units on the Revolution controversy, the "rights of women" debates, and prose authorship and readers.

  6. The novel is also a natural choice for more focused courses surveying the Romantic-period novel, covering women writers of the era, or studying the Jacobin/Anti-Jacobin debates; however, its use need not be limited to such specialized courses for undergraduate literature majors or graduate students. A key figure in the discourse surrounding the rights of women in the eighteenth century, Robinson also merits inclusion in surveys of women's and gender studies and feminist theory. I have taught The Natural Daughter in undergraduate courses ranging from a lower-division survey of multiculturalism to an upper-division Romantic-period literature course. In the multiculturalism course, Robinson's novel provided an opportunity to discuss the ways gender and social class affected women's employment options in the eighteenth century. The novel's heroine works in nearly every field open to respectable middle-class women. She serves as a lady's companion, a governess, a teacher in a fashionable girls' seminary, a provincial actress, a novelist, a poet—and considers but turns down a position as a man's mistress. Her sister Julia, introduced into aristocratic circles, lives by allying herself with wealthy men in exchange for sexual favors, runs a profitable gambling establishment, and ends by committing suicide. In this essay, I discuss ways I have taught Robinson's novel in two undergraduate literature courses: one an upper-division survey of Romanticism for literature majors that covers period poetry, fiction, and non-fiction; the other, a women's literature course for literature and women's studies students focused on the works of three Jacobin women writers: Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, and Mary Robinson. (See syllabi for LITR 414: "Romanticisms" and ENG 327: "British Women Writers in the 1790s").

  7. In both courses, I begin by contextualizing novel reading and authorship in the Romantic period. We read period texts that both support and criticize the development of mass readership and we discuss the gender and class stereotypes surrounding novel readers and writers. For example, I introduce the idea, unfamiliar to most of today's students, that novels were considered dangerously inflammatory reading—especially for women, the young of both sexes, and the working classes. An 1801 engraving entitled "Luxury or the Comforts of a Rum P Ford" aptly summarizes moralists' concerns about novel reading. It shows a young woman prostitute relaxing at home in her shift, warming herself in a masturbatory posture, novel in hand, before the latest in Rumford enclosed stoves. The young woman holds a copy of The Monk in her left hand; her right hand is held in front of her, hidden beneath her uplifted skirts; other sexually titillating novel titles lie around the apartment. The point of the engraving, clearly, is that novel-reading can be as luxuriously warming as the new stove, a point which connects mental with physical stimulation. A slightly more chaste 1810s version of this print, entitled "Comfort," may be found in the New York Public Library online exhibit, Before Victoria. "Comfort" similarly shows a novel-reading woman before a stove; this figure's posture is less sexually suggestive than the earlier version, however. In this engraving, the woman is fully clothed and reveals only her pantaloon-clad posterior and a bit of cleavage. This version clearly shows the woman's left hand, which lifts her dress in the back rather than the front and is not in contact with her skin.[3] We also read selections from eighteenth-century conduct book writers Gregory and Fordyce and also from Hannah More's Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education.[4] Discussing these texts encourages students to work through for themselves some of the reasons these authors had for cautioning their readers against novels; we draw comparisons with present-day concerns about the impact of video games, for example. Particularly for undergraduate students, Steve Behrendt's chapter "The Romantic Reader" in Blackwell's Companion to Romanticism is an excellent secondary resource that cogently summarizes these issues (Wu, ed., 91-100). Pearson's Women's Reading in Britain, 1750-1835: A Dangerous Recreation provides a more detailed account of this debate over the effects of novel reading, which includes an account of Robinson's portrayal of circulating libraries in The Natural Daughter and Walsingham (166-69).

  8. These texts on the discourse of novel reading also help students understand period reviews of novels more fully; students are often puzzled by reviewers' attention to moral issues over aesthetic ones unless they have been prepared with such readings. When the conservative British Critic reviews The Natural Daughter, for example, the reviewer claims that the novel is morally harmful rather than badly written. The reviewer backs up this claim by summarizing the heroine's unconvincing claims to virtue, sarcastically using Robinson's own words against her. The review states that "it is the tendency of these volumes which we find ourselves obliged to disapprove" and goes on to say that "A heroine [. . .] who quits her home with a man of gallantry, lives at a lodging, and receives his visits; who, under circumstances of great pecuniary distress, goes to a masquerade with a libertine avowedly endeavouring to seduce her; and, after she has given her hand to one man, her heart to another, debates seriously whether she shall bestow her person upon a third" is a dangerous moral example (rpt. in Setzer 327, 328). The reviewer continues, "[Robinson's heroine] ought not, in our opinion, to be held up as one 'who had never in the smallest instance violated the proprieties of wedded life; who had never been guilty of any action that might, even by the most fastidious, be deemed derogatory to the delicacy of female character, or the honour of her husband.'" (328). Clearly, this reviewer is unconvinced by Robinson's narrative commentary, which holds Martha up as a model of virtue; he cautions readers against uncritically accepting the author's estimation of the heroine's moral worth. The reviewer seems particularly concerned that Robinson's heroine might mislead young women readers into following her example and so precipitate their social and sexual ruin. This critic reads against the grain of the novel in a way that students might not expect without prior knowledge of the discourse surrounding novel reading. Nearly all of today's students, taught to follow the moral clues provided by narrators like Robinson's and not sharing the reviewer's moral standards, will initially be puzzled by the stance taken in this review. As one student pointed out, this reviewer seems to miss the novel's main point—Martha's actions should be judged by her intentions, which are pure, rather than by appearances, which are against her. Of course, the reviewer rejects Robinson's entire premise, believing that appearances—and public reputation—always do matter.

  9. As does reading cultural documents that condemn novel reading, reading this conservative review of The Natural Daughter encourages students to re-read sections of the novel that they might not have particularly noticed before and to ask different questions of it: Does the novel suggest that it is natural for Martha to fall in love with the handsome and gallant Sir Francis after she's been unfairly rejected by her husband? What effect does her decision have on the reader? Halfway through volume one, Martha admits that she loves Sir Francis: "her heart at that moment first told her, that it owned [L]ord Francis as its sovereign" (159). Does Robinson truly write from a different moral system than the reviewer, as he claims—one in which "star-crossed lovers"[5] are entitled to fall in love, in fiction if not in real life? Why would the reviewer particularly object to this passage?: "Lord Francis was, to all external appearance, too amiable to be known and not esteemed by a woman of Mrs. Morley's judgement and susceptibility: but the pride of her heart was still its impenetrable safeguard against every encroachment to the passions, which might in the smallest degree tend to her degradation" (207). The reviewer doesn't believe that men and women can be friends without giving in to passion; Robinson implies that they can. Is there any moral ambiguity in Martha's position—or Robinson's presentation of it—in the scene in which Martha meets Sir Francis alone in her lodgings? The reviewer assumes that no such private meeting could be wholly innocent.

  10. Questions like these encourage students to examine familiar systems of literary convention (like that of the "star-crossed lovers") or contemporary moral systems (which privilege feelings of love over contractual commitments to a loveless marriage) in light of Romantic-period views on these same literary and moral issues. While we might find it natural for Martha to love Sir Francis, reviewers might see Robinson's presenting it as natural as a radical and even treasonous move—The British Critic reviewer explicitly classes her as a radical Jacobin writer, in spite of the novel's graphic portrayal of the horrors of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror: "it is of little use to lament or censure the French revolution, if the morals and manners which tended to produce it, are inculcated and held up for imitation" (328). Rather than reject such conservative readings of the novel outright, I encourage students to delve back into the text to see if they can find any basis for the reviewer's claims. Such an exercise helps students to understand the competing moral positions from which the novel was read in the period, and also to practice applying those positions to closer readings of specific passages in the novel. (See my "LITR 414: Romanticisms" essay assignment, "Reception History and Analysis: Robinson's The Natural Daughter," which formalizes this exercise by asking students to summarize period reviews and apply them to a reading of the reviewed novel). Students' prior readings in the Revolutionary debate further allow them to understand why this reviewer might see political danger as well as moral danger in Robinson's novel.[6]

  11. We conclude our initial conversation about the debate over novel reading with selections that defend women's leisure reading: Milne's short 1805 poem, "To a Lady Who Said It Was Sinful to Read Novels," excerpts from Reeve's The Progress of Romance, and selections from Barbauld's "On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writing" from her 1820 British Novelist series.[7] These selections spiritedly defend novel reading as legitimate sources of entertainment and social knowledge, and so allow students to see the range of opinions on this issue. They also expose students to the range of styles and genres in which those opinions were expressed. The Milne poem wittily compares novel reading to another harmless indulgence—tea drinking—and to a more dangerous one—gossip ("scandal"): "To love these books, and harmless tea. / Has always been my foible . . . . Deprived of such resource, the tongue / Is sure employed - in scandal" (ll. 1-2, 11-12). The Barbauld essay also provides a smooth transition to our next topic, cultural opinions on the novels' contents and aesthetics, their relative position in the literary hierarchy, and definitions of novelistic subgenres.

  12. Barbauld's essay provides a gateway into our discussion of the period's stereotypes about novels and their literary conventions. Selections from Inchbald's On Novel Writing, Jewsbury's humorous essay "On Writing a Love Tale" and Alcock's satirical poem "A Receipt for Writing a Novel" all provide competing definitions of the "ingredients" required to compose a popular novel. Students enjoy reading these witty and parodic formulas, which can later be used as yardsticks against which to compare the fictional elements of particular novels. (See my "British Writers: Gothic Novel" paper assignment, "Recipe for a Gothic Novel," which asks students to use the Alcock poem and other period sources to define the essential conventions of the form and then apply them to particular novels.[8] ) We also read short selections from other novelistic subgenres that help place The Natural Daughter in literary context: Burney, Inchbald, Radcliffe, and Hamilton all provide interesting examples of sentimental, satirical, and gothic novel conventions against which to read Robinson's novel.[9] A good secondary source on this general topic is John Sutherland's chapter "The Novel" in Blackwell's Companion to Romanticism, in which he defines novelistic subgenres including gothic, romantic, and domestic novels, and national tales (333-43).

  13. The criteria delineated in Barbauld's essay, for example, can be used to illustrate sentimental and realist novel conventions, as well as departures from them, when examined against novels like The Natural Daughter. Barbauld notes that novels paint "the passion of love," but also show "all that is tender in virtuous affection" and characters' "benevolence and sensibility to distress" (91). She claims that novelists show a "high regard to female honour, generosity, and a spirit of self-sacrifice" but also inculcate "the more severe and homely virtues of prudence and economy." They provide lessons against "unfeeling dissipation" and provide readers with "some knowledge of the world . . . attained with more ease, and attended with less danger, than by mixing in real life" (91, 92).

  14. When applied to The Natural Daughter, a definition like Barbauld's helps students identify literary conventions that the novel shares with other works of the period. Students can have lively debates about the application of some of these standards. Does the novel paint "the passion of love"? Compared to a novel by Austen or Burney, traditional courtship and love seem to play a smaller role here. Does the novel show "virtuous affection"? Friendships between women seem to be more important examples of this ideal than those between women and men. Does Martha's maternal affection for her Fanny count in this regard? Does Robinson show a "high regard to female honour, generosity, and a spirit of self-sacrifice"? Certainly. Martha's sense of her duty and her willingness to sacrifice her reputation to care for little Fanny drive the main plot. Now we come to the more ambiguous criteria. Does the novel support "the more severe and homely virtues of prudence and economy"? Robinson certainly seems to intend us to see Martha as a model of prudence, although conservative reviewers might disagree with this view. Does the novel provide lessons against "unfeeling dissipation"? The satiric subplots of the novel involving the social climbing Bradfords and Leadenheads make this point; they selfishly squander their wealth and are unsympathetic and ungenerous toward their social and monetary inferiors. Barbauld's last criterion is her most controversial: Does Robinson provide readers with "some knowledge of the world . . . attained with more ease, and attended with less danger, than by mixing in real life"? Some period reviewers argue that the situations she describes are too far from "real life" social situations to serve as models for behavior. For example, The New London reviewer says that "we cannot help sometimes thinking that the situations into which [Martha] is thrown are rather too frequently varied to satisfy the mind of their natural occurrence or probability" (rpt. in Setzer 330). Robinson (and Barbauld) would probably argue that Martha's example does provide a valuable object lesson: Would it not be better for a young woman to read about Martha's refusal to be established as the mistress of a libertine than for her to experience a libertine's advances in person? Some might say that the situation is unlikely to occur in most readers' lives. Others might say that a young woman shouldn't even know of the existence of such men and that she certainly shouldn't know about it in the sort of detail Robinson presents.

  15. One can almost see their point. In this scene, Martha is at her lowest point in the novel: out of money, she has been fired from two previous positions by the machinations of the Leadenheads, and her literary efforts have been rejected:

    Mrs. Morley's humble situation again exposed her to the insults of the vulgar. Two thousand pounds for present exigencies, and three hundred pounds per annum, were proffered as the price of her degradation; by one, who not many weeks before, had refused to aid her literary toils by the subscription of a single guinea! Mrs. Morley's indignation was strong, but her necessities were powerful. She shuddered at the idea of a sordid sacrifice; but she had been convinced that worldly importance depends on wealth and not on virtue." (221)
    For the first time in the novel, Martha is genuinely tempted to take up the man's offer, although she ultimately rejects it. Robinson's point here, is, I think, summed up in the final phrase: "she had been convinced that worldly importance depends on wealth and not on virtue." Martha's experiences have nearly convinced her, almost against her will, that in order to get by in the world, she must do as her sister Julia has done and embrace the values of aristocratic gallantry over middle-class worth and virtue. In order to convince her to accept his offer, the man takes her to a masquerade and shows her "the most exalted women of libertine notoriety. She saw them caressed, followed, and protected, even by the most fastidious"; he tells her that she has already sacrificed her reputation, so she should become the fallen women people believe her to be (222). In the end, she refuses him because Lord Francis warns her against the man—and urges her to instead accept his (somewhat less improper) offer of an escort to London. By carrying our heroine to the very brink of ruin, describing thoughts in which Martha seriously considers the libertine's offer, and detailing that offer down to exact price to be paid, Robinson's plot goes a bit beyond standard sentimental novel conventions for an endangered heroine.[10] By combining such melodramatic plot events with seeming realist characters and settings, the novel seems to court the kind of moral ambiguity to which reviewers react. Reading this scene alongside Barbauld and the comments of the reviewers encourages students to work out these ambiguities by placing them in the context of literary conventions and moral expectations of the period.
  16. As Barbauld's work and this discussion of the Natural Daughter suggest, few novels fit wholly into a single subgenre. As Gary Kelly points out in English Fiction of the Romantic Period, "Sharp generic distinctions were not part of Romantic literary culture; on the contrary, breaking the bounds of form was a recurrent rhetorical gesture" (42). One of the most distinctive features of Robinson's Natural Daughter is the multiplicity of generic strategies it employs in the service of its social and political criticism: it contains both satirical and sentimental prose elements as well as poetry and so provides an excellent opportunity to explore the patchwork quality of novels in the period. Reading the novel through the lens of Barbauld, Alcock, and Jewsbury allows us to see the work's debt to the sentimental novel. By framing the literary context differently, we see more of the satirical elements in the work. As Gary Kelly points out, the two genres were never distinct in this period, especially since the sentimental novel often contained a large element of social criticism and anti-aristocratic satire:

    Both the Sentimental tale and the novel of manners, sentiment, and emulation, but especially the latter, are also fictions of social criticism, specifically criticism of the fashion system, pride of rank, the gentry culture of conspicuous consumption, patronage, and dependence, the "mistress system" of courtly gallantry, and emulation of these "merely" social and economic institutions by other classes (42).

    As we turn to discussion of the novel's satirical elements, we use Kelly's list of characteristics for "fictions of social criticism" to search for specific targets of Robinson's satire. I also bring in examples of other types of political and personal satire from the period, such as James Gillray's etchings[11] and Robinson's own satirical poetry,[12] and we return to earlier readings by Whig and Tory satirists such as Polwhele in order to compare their attitudes and literary strategies to those in Robinson's in The Natural Daughter. Gillray's engraved images provide an excellent guide for students to the markers of the "gentry culture of conspicuous consumption" that both his images and Robinson's novel critique. Indeed, in The Natural Daughter Robinson takes aim at every target Kelly enumerates. The Leadenheads, in particular, strive to emulate all the vices of the fashionable classes, exhibiting an obsession with fashion and social pride, readily adopting fashionably hypocritical social and sexual morals—and leaping at the chance to buy themselves publicity. For example, when the family thinks that Gregory, the eldest son, has become engaged to the fashionable Lady Pen Pryer, they rush to announce the event in the newspapers and launch into a frenzy of conspicuous consumption. Robinson records the over-inflated language of the engagement announcement, which is an exaggerated parody of actual newspaper articles. She then enumerates the Leadenheads' pre-wedding purchases:

    The arms of the new landau were effaced, to make room for the emblazoned quarterings of the exalted alliance. The pages of heraldry were ransacked, to explore every iota of armorial distinction; and the Miss Leadenheads sent off an express to London, for a fresh cargo of fashions, to pay and to receive the wedding visits. Plummet Castle was to be new furnished for the reception of the noble relative; and twenty dozen of cards were ordered to be struck off, with the name of the right honorable [L]ady Penelope Leadenhead, against the visits of condescension to the associates of their almost forgotten rank in society. (192)
    In this passage, Robinson shows the Leadenheads aping every possible sign of aristocratic luxury: in an effort to overawe their neighbors and capitalize on the aristocratic connections of their new relation, they repaint their new carriage with specious arms, the daughters order an enormous "cargo" of new fashions, and they redecorate the entire castle. The joke is on them, however. After they have gone to all this expense, they discover that Gregory has married plain Julia Bradford, mere social-climbing gentry like themselves.
  17. The spectacle of aristocratic spending, particularly the attention to markers like carriage ownership and fashion, find their parallels in Gillray's prints. Compare the parodic vision of aristocratic social life in the 1796 engraving, "Lady Godina's Rout; or Peeping-Tom Spying out Pope-Joan. Vide Fashionable Modesty." This image of a fashionable card party satirizes the latest fashions in transparent gowns, monumental feather headdresses, and indecently plunging necklines.[13] A 1786 Gillray print, "A New Way to Pay the National-Debt," shows King George and Queen Charlotte leaving the national Treasury, their clothing stuffed with gold pieces; courtiers, their own pockets filled to overflowing, greet them with fanfares and additional gifts. In the background are two neglected figures, the victims of royal insularity and greed: a tattered-looking Prince of Wales and the pathetic figure of an old soldier deprived of all four of his limbs, his hat upturned for donations.[14] In this print, the King and Queen are portrayed as lacking in sympathy and unwilling to provide for their subjects, as unnatural parents and unnatural rulers; their reactions parallel those of the Leadenheads but also those of Martha's own family in the opening chapters of the novel. For example, in the opening chapters, Robinson contrasts Martha's practical helpfulness with her sister Julia's exaggerated (and useless) display of sensibility through their differing reactions to an old soldier: "At supper, Julia could not eat for thinking of the soldier's wounded arm; while he, by the private order of Martha, had been lodged near the inn, and provided with a comfortable meal" (103). I also supplement the Gillray images with discussion of period carriage ownership and fashion; students enjoy seeing fashion plates and carriage catalogs that illustrate these luxury goods, and readily make parallels to today's commodities—pricey SUVs, designer gowns.

  18. I frequently wait to introduce biographical detail about Robinson herself until students have finished the novel and we have discussed it in relationship to the above contexts and to the period reviews. Introducing biographical material into the literature classroom is always a loaded gesture; in Robinson's case it is particularly fraught with difficulties but also particularly important. As the recent spate of biographies shows, prurient interest in Robinson's life sometimes overshadows interest in her art, and students occasionally come to class with a vague notion of Robinson as a "classy tart."[15] Throughout the Romanticism survey, we discuss the ways that biographical readings of novels became an increasingly important way for authors to self-market and for critics to discipline authors as celebrities. We discuss the development of the literary-critical concept of the biographical fallacy, and read period texts that address the question of biographical readings of literary texts. For example, Godwin's essay "Of History and Romance" argues that "any man's character," whether he is a figure from history or fiction, has depths that may not be completely plumbed. An 1814 essay by Edward Mangin entitled A View of the Pleasures Arising from a Love of Books: in Letters to a Lady, also provides a useful perspective on this kind of interpretation. Mangin argues that novel readers enjoy forgetting "the fact of [the novel's] being a fiction" and are "interested in perusing, if detailed, even the story of the writer; or in conjecturing it, where the information is not given" (36, 129). Significantly, Mangin argues that biographical information about the novel writer is key to novel-reading pleasure; however, he argues that the reader's interest is elicited first by the novel itself, rather than by the "story of the writer." He presents a model in which readers read novels, and then make guesses about the life of the author based on the fiction and any other biographical information that's available. I use Mangin's model to complicate the standard take on the biographical fallacy; it is more often true that readers initially know little about an author and make assumptions about the author's real-life character based on his fictions. "Monk" Lewis's identification with his title character is an excellent example of this phenomenon; it is clearly at work in the careers of Romantic-period poets like Smith, Byron, and Landon as well. (See also my "Female Pseudonymity in the Romantic 'Age of Personality': The Career of Charlotte King/Rosa Matilda/Charlotte Dacre.")

  19. As an early Romantic-period celebrity, actress, and courtesan before she became a writer, Robinson provides a unique case study in the development of this style of literary interpretation and an example of its effects on the career of a woman writer. In both literature courses in which I teach the novel, students will have first discussed the implications of biographical readings for the career of Mary Wollstonecraft. For a survey course, anthologists like Wolfson and Manning reprint selections from the Vindications and Maria, which can be read alongside excerpts from Godwin's Memoirs of Wollstonecraft and from conservative reactions like Polwhele's Unsex'd Females; in a course focused on the women writers of the 1790s, we read these texts in their entirety along with Wollstonecraft's earlier novel Mary.

  20. In order to interrogate legitimacy of period critics' claims that The Natural Daughter is a roman-a-clef, it is important for students to read the novel first, to establish a baseline understanding of the text's satirical aims, as I have discussed above. We then read Robinson's political writing, like the Letter, which leads to re-reading the novel paying increased attention to its themes about women's professional and reproductive work and to the overt and covert political views expressed in it; we conclude by reading period reviews of the novel alongside excerpts from Robinson's own autobiography, which leads to discussions about the reasons Robinson's critics might have for insisting that her fiction was thinly-disguised autobiography—and the reasons that their own notions of Robinson's so-called real life might be based as much on her fictions as on biographical fact.

  21. Robinson's views on authorship, on writing as a career for women, show up usefully through this series of re-readings. Students can analyze the ways Robinson's views in her Letter to the Women of England serve as a counterpoint to her depictions of Martha's literary career in The Natural Daughter. The Letter, which concludes with a "List of British Female Literary Characters Living in the Eighteenth Century" which includes Robinson herself, speaks directly to the issues of women's literary professionalization and inserts itself into Romantic-period debates about gender and literary canons.[16] Scenes from the novel dramatize the heroine's struggles to earn her living as a writer hindered by ignorant patrons and unscrupulous publishers. Robinson writes, critiquing the marketplace conditions that make it impossible for her to earn a living from her talents:

    She had employed her pen, till her health was visibly declining; she had denied herself the comforts of existence, till existence itself was scarcely to be valued. All that her honourable, her incessant industry could procure, was insufficient for the purposes of attaining a permanent independence; and she was at length so deeply involved, so menaced with destruction, that nothing but an effort of despair could save her. She found by painful experience, that few among the illiterate and the vulgar will extend their patronage to mental worth; that the reward which the aristocracy of wealth bestows is very rarely munificent; though self-gratification is purchased at a prodigal expence, and while genius lingers in adversity, licentious pleasure revels in all the boundless luxury of fortune. (221)
    Passages like these lead to discussion of the economic conditions of novel writing during the late eighteenth century; Fergus and Thaddeus, for example, show that Robinson herself "attempted to control her own career, and she made many publishing decisions herself" but conclude that her efforts "brought her no satisfactory income" (196). While she may not have experienced the kind of outright dishonesty at the hands of novel publishers that Martha experiences, she made sixty pounds for The Natural Daughter. She never made more than 150 pounds a year from her writing (and that only in the last three years of her life), and died in debt (Thaddeus and Fergus 197). In a Romanticism survey course, Robinson's view of the literary marketplace can also be usefully linked to the views of other novelists and poets who were her contemporaries: Charlotte Smith in the prefaces to Elegaic Sonnets, Elizabeth Inchbald's prefaces to The British Theater, Mary Hays in her periodical essays and reviews, Wordsworth and Coleridge in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, as well as Coleridge in Biographia Literaria.[17]
  22. Presenting studies with selections from the numerous portraits, caricatures, scurrilous pamphlets and newspaper accounts of Robinson's career is a useful method of illustrating the remarkable level of media coverage she received, and also showing the ways in which The Natural Daughter responds to and parodies those stereotyped representations of her image. For example, one period reviewer argues that Robinsons inserts "memoirs of herself, in some trying situations" into the novel (European Magazine, rpt. in Setzer 329). This passage from The Natural Daughter describes Martha's first appearance on stage as a provincial actress in terms that parody those of the newspaper puffs, gossip columns, and theater reviews in which Robinson herself featured:

    Expectation was not disappointed by the high report which Fame had made of the twin constellations in the dramatic hemisphere. Mrs. Sedgeley was, after her first appearance in the Grecian Daughter, pronounced a juvenile Siddons; while the lively and engaging Martha was greeted, in the sportive walks of Thalia, with boundless adoration. The easy elegance of Farren, who had frequently trod the same boards with considerable éclat, and the genuine playful graces of the queen of smiles—the attractive Jordan, were blended in the person and talents of Mrs. Morley (180).
    This passage, which compares the fictional actresses to the real actresses Sarah Siddons, Elizabeth Farren and Dorothy Jordan, can be paired with a review from the Morning Post of Robinson's own debut:
    A Lady, whose name is Robinson, made her first appearance last night at this theatre, in the character of Juliet; her person is genteel, her voice harmonious, and admitting of various modulations, and her features, when properly animated are striking and expressive—At present she discovers a theatrical genius in the rough [. . . . but] she gave an earnest of stage-abilities, which, if properly attended to, may prove a credit to herself and the Theatre." (qtd. in Byrne 72)
    Comparing such passages highlights for students the intertextuality of Robinson's novel and further illustrates the novel's use of parody and satire.
  23. Most of the press coverage of Robinson's early career as an actress and courtesan was not as flattering as this review, however. This negative press, too, can be usefully read against Robinson's portrayals of Martha's virtue and her sister Julia's vices in the novel. As Runge notes, "between 1780 and 1788 Robinson is the subject of at least six satirical pamplets, two 'Tête-à-Tête' columns in Town and Country Magazine, numerous newspaper paragraphs, and some thirty-eight satirical prints" (569-70). Robinson herself was frequently accused of just the kind of fashionable vices for which she satirizes her fictional characters in The Natural Daughter. Comparing the satirical media coverage of Robinson helps students to understand the context for Robinson's novel as well as to read sources that might have influenced her satirical practice. For example, the passage in which Robinson satirizes the Leadenheads' conspicuous consumption can be paired with newspaper paragraphs on "Perdita's" latest coach and livery or fashionable opera gown. They can also be contextualized with images like the 1782 engraving of Robinson and her reputed lover Charles James Fox, "Perdito and Perdita—or—the Man and Woman of the People." Fox is portrayed as enthralled by a triumphant Robinson, who is shown dressed in the height of fashion, driving her carriage, whip in hand. This image reveals how Mary's fashionable attire and equipage became the focus for newspaper critiques that connected her politics to her role as a leading Whig courtesan.[18]

  24. This series of contextualized re-readings of the novel helps students understand the ways that the same text may be read in multiple ways and the ways that non-fiction genres like autobiography, critical review essays, and political cartoons might influence definitions of the Romantic-period novel and its relative value in the cultural hierarchy. It also encourages them to think critically and historically about the role that celebrity and biographical criticism played in the careers of novelists of the Romantic period. From this perspective, Robinson's career as a fiction writer provides an unparalleled opportunity to work through these concepts in depth, using The Natural Daughter as a case study for the development of the Romantic-period reader and writer.


Works Cited

Andrew, Donna. "'Adultery a-la-Mode': Privilege, the Law and Attitudes to Adultery 1770-1809." History 82 (1997): 5-23.

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Ed. Donald Gray. New York: Norton, 2000.

---. Pride and Prejudice. Ed. Susan Fraiman. New York: Norton, 2004.

Before Victoria: Extraordinary Women of the British Romantic Era. New York Public Library. New York. 2005. 2 Nov. 2007. <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/victoria/introduction.html>.

Breen, Jennifer, ed. Women Romantic Poets, 1785-1832: An Anthology. London: Everyman, 1996.

---. Women Romantics 1785-1832: Writing in Prose. London: Everyman, 1996. Broadview Press. 2005. 4 Nov. 2007. <http://www.broadviewpress.com/>.

Byrne, Paula. Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson. New York: Random House, 2004.

Close, Anne. "Into the Public: The Sexual Heroine in Eliza Fenwick's Secresy and Mary Robinson's The Natural Daughter." Eighteenth-Century Fiction 17.1 (2004): 35-52.

Davenport, Hester. The Prince's Mistress: A Life of Mary Robinson. Phoenix Mill: Sutton P, 2004.

Fergus, Jan, and Janice Farrar Thaddeus. "Women, Publishers, and Money, 1790-1820." Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 17 (1987): 191-207.

George, Mary Dorothy, ed. Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires: Catalogues of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. London: British Museum, 1870-1951.

Gillray, James. "The Comforts of a Rumford Stove." 12 June 1800. Rpt. in Ingenious: 30,000 Images from the Collections of Science Museum, National Railway Museum, National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television, Science Museum, Science & Picture Library. Picture Number 10315400. 4 Nov. 2007. <www.ingenious.org.uk>.

---. James Gillray. New York Public Library, New York. 6 Apr. 2007. <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/print/exhibits/
gillray/index.html
>.

---. James Gillray: The Art of Caricature. Tate Gallery, London. 6 Apr. 2007. <http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/gillray/>.

---. "Lady Godina's Rout." 12 Mar. 1796. Rpt. in Before Victoria. New York Public Library, New York. Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Print Collection. 2005. 2 Nov. 2007. <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/victoria/ref/
ps_prn_cd38_555.html
>.

---. The Satirical Etchings of James Gillray. Ed. Draper Hill. New York: Dover, 1976.

Godwin, William. "Of History and Romance." Rpt. as Appendix IV. Caleb Williams. Ed. Maurice Hindle. London: Penguin, 1988: 359-73.

---. Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. Pamela Clemit and Gina Luria Walker. Peterborough, ON: Broadview P, 2001.

Gregory, John. "A Father's Legacy to His Daughters." Rpt. in Poems (1773) by Anna Laetitia Aiken: A Romantic Circles Electronic Edition. Ed. Lisa Vargo and Allison Muri. 2006. University of Maryland. 4 Apr. 2007. </editions/contemps/barbauld/poems1773/
related_texts/gregory.html
>.

Gristwood, Sarah. Perdita: Royal Mistress, Writer, Romantic. London: Bantam, 2005.

Hawley, Judith. "Romantic Patronage: Mary Robinson and Coleridge Revisited." British Women's Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century: Authorship, Politics and History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 62-75.

Ingamells, John. Mrs. Robinson and Her Portraits. Wallace Collection Monograph I. London: Trustees of the Wallace Collection, 1978.

Jump, Harriet Devine, ed. Women's Writing of the Romantic Period, 1789-1836: An Anthology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1997.

Jones, Vivien, ed. Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity. London: Routledge, 1990.

Kelly, Gary. English Fiction of the Romantic Period, 1789-1830. Longman Literature in English Series. London: Longman, 1989.

Labbe, Jacqueline. "Selling One's Sorrows: Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson, and the Marketing of Poetry." Wordsworth Circle 25.2 (Spring 1994): 68-71.

Levy, M. J. The Mistresses of King George IV. London: Peter Owen, 1996.

Lonsdale, Roger, ed. Eighteenth-century Women Poets. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.

Mangin, Edward. A View of the Pleasures Arising from a Love of Books: In Letters to a Lady. London: Longman, 1814.

McCreery, Cindy. "Keeping up with the Bon Ton: The Tête-à-Tête series in the Town and Country Magazine." Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations, and Responsibilities. Ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus. London: Longman, 1997: 207-29.

McGann, Jerome J., ed. The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994.

Mellor, Anne K. "Mary Robinson and the Scripts of Female Sexuality." Representations of the Self from the Renaissance to Romanticism. Ed. Patrick Coleman, Jayne Lewis, and Jill Kowalik. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. 230-59.

---., and Richard E. Matlak. British Literature, 1780-1830. Boston: Heinle, 1996.

National Portrait Gallery. National Portrait Gallery, London. 9 Nov. 2007. 9 Nov. 2007. <http://www.npg.org.uk/>.

Oxford University Press (USA). 2005. 4 Nov. 2007. <http://www.oup.com/us/>.

Pascoe, Judith. "Mary Robinson and the Literary Marketplace." Romantic Women Writers: Voices and Countervoices. Ed. Paula Feldman and Theresa Kelly. Hanover: UP of New England, 1995. 252-68.

---, ed. Mary Robinson: Selected Poems. Peterborough, ON.: Broadview P, 2000.

Pearson, Jacqueline. Women's Reading in Britain, 1750-1835: A Dangerous Recreation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.

Penguin Group (USA). 2007. 4 Nov. 2007. <http://us.penguingroup.com/>.

Radcliffe, Ann. A Sicilian Romance. Ed. Alison Milbank. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.

---. The Mysteries of Udolpho. Ed. Bonamy Dobree. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.

Robertson, Fiona, ed. Women's Writing 1778-1838: An Anthology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001.

Robinson, Mary. The False Friend. A Domestic Story. 4 vols. Longman and Rees, 1799.

---. "A Letter to the Women of England on the Injustice of Mental Subordination [1799]: A Romantic Circles Electronic Edition." Romantic Circles. Ed. Adriana Craciun, Anne Irmen Close, Megan Musgrave, Orianne Smith. 2001. University of Maryland. 4 Apr. 2007. <rc.umd.edu/editions/robinson>.

---. "Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)." A Celebration of Women Writers. Ed. Mary Mark Ockerbloom. University of Pennsylvania. 6 Apr. 2007. <http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/robinson/biography.html>.

---. "Mary Darby Robinson Poems." Famous Poets and Poems.com 2006 6 Apr. 2007. <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/
mary_darby_robinson/poems
>.

---. The Natural Daughter. With Portraits of the Leadenhead Family. A Novel. 2 vols. 1799. In A Letter to the Women of England and The Natural Daughter. Ed. Sharon M. Setzer. Peterborough, ON: Broadview P, 2003.

---. Perdita: The Memoirs of Mary Robinson. 1801. Ed. M. J. Levy. London: Peter Owen, 1994.

---. Walsingham; or the Pupil of Nature. A Domestic Story. 4 vols. 1797. Ed. Julie Shaffer. Peterborough, ON: Broadview P, 2003.

Runge, Laura. "Mary Robinson's Memoirs and the Anti-Adultery Campaign of the Late Eighteenth Century" Modern Philology (2004): 563-85.

Stillinger, Jack, and Deidre Lynch, eds. The Romantic Period. Vol. D of The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2006.

Valancourt Books. 2006. 4 Nov. 2007. <http://www.valancourtbooks.com/>.

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. Ed. Michael Gamer. New York: Penguin, 2002.

Wilson, Lisa M. "Female Pseudonymity in the Romantic 'Age of Personality': The Career of Charlotte King/Rosa Matilda/Charlotte Dacre." European Romantic Review 9.3 (Summer 1998): 393-420.

Wolfson, Susan, and Peter Manning, eds. The Romantics and Their Contemporaries. Vol. 2A of Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2 nd edition. London: Longman, 2003.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. Mary and Maria. 1788, 1798. Ed. Janet Todd. New York: Penguin, 1991.

---. The Vindications: The Rights of Men and The Rights of Woman. Ed. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Sherf. 1790, 1792. Peterborough, ON: Broadview P, 1997.

Wu, Duncan, ed. A Companion to Romanticism. London: Blackwell, 1999.

---. Romantic Women Poets: An Anthology. London: Blackwell, 1997.

---. Romanticism: An Anthology. 3rd ed. London: Blackwell, 2005.


Notes

[1] Broadview's list of British novels of the Romantic period includes more than forty titles, including an excellent selection of satirical novels and works by women authors (Broadview Press, 2005, <http://www.broadviewpress.com/>); Penguin carries around twenty-five titles, including a selection by the male gothic novelists, the Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle, and Walter Scott (Penguin Group [USA], 2007, <http://us.penguingroup.com/>); Oxford lists around twenty, notably the most complete selection of titles by Ann Radcliffe (Oxford University Press [USA], 2005 <http://www.oup.com/us/>); and Valancourt Books has recently released nearly twenty gothic titles, including anonymous titles and works by Parsons, Roche, and Lathom (Valancourt Books, 2006, <http://www.valancourtbooks.com/>).

[2] For discussions of the media coverage of celebrity adultery in the period, see Donna Andrew, "'Adultery a-la-Mode': Privilege, the Law and Attitudes to Adultery 1770-1809," History 82 (1997): 5-23; Cindy McCreery, "Keeping up with the Bon Ton: The Tête-à-Tête series in the Town and Country Magazine," in Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations, and Responsibilities, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (London: Longman, 1997): 207-29; and Laura Runge, "Mary Robinson's Memoirs and the Anti-Adultery Campaign of the Late Eighteenth Century," Modern Philology (2004): 563-85.

[3] "Luxury or the Comforts of a Rum P Ford," 26 Feb. 1801, in Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, ed. M.D. George, Plate 9812 (London: British Museum, 1870-1951). See also "Comfort," [1815 watermark], Before Victoria, New York Public Library, New York, The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, 2005, <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/victoria/ref/
ps_cps_cd3_042.html
>.

These images parody an earlier Gillray engraving on Anglo-American reformer and inventor Count Rumford's invention, "The Comforts of a Rumford Stove," which shows the Count warming his own bare bottom before one of his enclosed stoves (12 June 1800, plate 75). An electronic version of this print is available: James Gillray, "The Comforts of a Rumford Stove," 1800, rpt. in Ingenious: 30,000 Images from the Collections of Science Museum, National Railway Museum, National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television, Science Museum, Science & Picture Library, Picture Number 10315400, <www.ingenious.org.uk>.

[4] John Gregory, "A Father's Legacy to His Daughters," rpt. in Poems (1773) by Anna Laetitia Aikin: A Romantic Circles Electronic Edition, Romantic Circles, ed. Lisa Vargo and Allison Muri, 2006, University of Maryland, </editions/contemps/barbauld/
poems1773/related_texts/gregory.html
>. Fordyce rpt. in Jones 176; More rpt. in Wolfson and Manning 92-97.

[5] In her reading of Robinson's Memoirs, Mellor argues that the stories told by and about Robinson fall into four categories: "crudely summarized, she was either 1) a whore; 2) an 'unprotected' and abused wife; 3) a star-crossed lover; or 4) a talented performer and a successful artist" (231). Robinson's justification for the relationship between Martha and Sir Francis seems to partake of something of the kind of argument she makes in her Memoirs; Martha, like Robinson herself, is an "abused wife" and "talented performer" whose adulterous relationship is that of "star-crossed lovers."

[6] See Wolfson and Manning, "The Rights of Man and the Revolution Controversy," (56-112), particularly the selection on love and the marriage contract excerpted from William Godwin's Of the Enjoyment of Liberty (95-96).

[7] Milne rpt. in Breen, Women Romantic Poets, 1785-1832, 126; Reeve rpt. in Robertson 41-47; Barbauld rpt. in Breen, Women Romantics 1785-1832: Writing in Prose, 90-96; slightly different excerpts from More and Barbauld are also found in Jump.

[8] Thanks to my colleague Margaret Case for the germ of the idea for this paper assignment, adapted from one of her own.

[9] Wolfson and Manning excerpt Scott, Austen, and Shelley (918-22, 981-88, 992-1006), while Robertson includes Burney, Inchbald, Radcliffe, Hamilton, Edgeworth, Austen, and Shelley (3-20, 93-101, 143-52, 183-91, 223-47, 343-57, and 366-88, respectively). Anne Close's "Into the Public: The Sexual Heroine in Eliza Fenwick's Secresy and Mary Robinson's The Natural Daughter also places The Natural Daughter in literary context (Eighteenth-Century Fiction 17.1 [2004] 35-52).

[10] This masquerade scene and Martha's resultant moral dilemma may also be contextualized by comparing it to the masquerade scene in Robinson's 1796 novel Walsingham, as well as earlier fictional masquerades such as Haywood's tale of Erminia in volume one, book one of the 1744 Female Spectator. Rpt. in Vivien Jones, ed., Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity (New York: Routledge, 1990): 38-44. It may be further contextualized by examining representations of masquerade in Robinson's 1801 Memoirs alongside the well-known print of Robinson's attending Vauxhall with the Prince of Wales, reproduced on the The Norton Anthology of English Literature's electronic resource page: W.W. Norton, <www2.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/18century/
topic_1/illustrations/imvauxdet3.htm
>. I recommend treating the fictional representations first, however, before introducing students to parallels from Robinson's own life. See my discussion beginning at paragraph 18, above.

[11] Good online exhibits of Gillray's works can be found at: "James Gillray: The Art of Caricature," Tate Gallery, London, <http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/gillray/>, and "James Gillray," New York Public Library, New York. 2004-05, <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/print/
exhibits/gillray/index.html
>. An inexpensive paperback selection of his prints is also available: The Satirical Etchings of James Gillray, ed. Draper Hill (New York: Dover, 1976).

[12] See "January, 1795," "Taste and Fashion," "Male Fashions for 1799," and "Female Fashions of 1799," for other examples of Robinson's satirical voice in poems, all of which may be found in volume three of her 1806 Poetical Works. Pascoe's Broadview edition of Robinson's poems includes the mock-heroic "The Poet's Garret" and "January, 1795" (354-58); "Modern Male Fashions" and "Modern Female Fashions" (360-63); as well as several previously uncollected versions of satirical poems from magazines and newspapers: "Stanzas" ("In this vain, busy world"), "All For-Lorn," "The Camp," and "Great and Small" (290-96).

Other print sources: "January, 1795" is the most frequently anthologized of Robinson's satirical poems. Stillinger and Lynch as well as Wolfson and Manning reprint "January" and "The Camp" (216, 220; 68, 70). McGann includes "Modern Male Fashions" and "Modern Female Fashions" (195-97), as well as "The Camp" (228-29). Lonsdale and Robertson both include "January" (474, 166). Wu, Romantic Women Poets, reprints "Lines addressed by a Young Lady of Fashion to a Small Green Fly, Which had Pitched on the Left Ear of Lady Amaranth's Little White Barbet, Fidelio, on a Summer Evening, After a Shower, Near Sunset" from Robinson's novel Walsingham-a poem whose title is almost longer than its text (208-09).

Hypertext editions include "Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)," A Celebration of Women Writers, ed. Mary Mark Ockerbloom, University of Pennsylvania, <http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/robinson/biography.html>. This database includes electronic texts of selected poems, including "January, 1795" and "The Camp," as well as complete texts of Robinson's 1791 Poems. It also includes the 1895 reprinted edition of Robinson's 1801 Memoirs and engravings of the author. See also "Mary Darby Robinson Poems," Famous Poets and Poems.com, 2006, <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/
mary_darby_robinson/poems
>. This database reprints "January, 1795," "Female Fashions of 1799," and "Male Fashions of 1799."

[13] James Gillray, "Lady Godina's Rout," 12 Mar. 1796, rpt. in Before Victoria, New York Public Library, New York, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Print Collection, 2005 <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/victoria/ref/
ps_prn_cd38_555.html
>. Also in Hill, plate 40. Hill identifies the central figure, "Lady Godina," as Lady Georgiana Gordon, whose name Gillray crosses with that of the proverbially naked Lady Godiva to underline the visual joke.

[14] James Gillray, "A New Way to Pay the National Debt," 21 Apr. 1786, rpt. in James Gillray, New York Public Library, New York, Image 10, 2004-05, <http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/print/exhibits/
gillray/captions/image10.html
>.

[15] See M. J. Levy, The Mistresses of King George IV (1996), Paula Byrne, Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson (2004), Hester Davenport, The Prince's Mistress: A Life of Mary Robinson (2004), and Sarah Gristwood, Perdita: Royal Mistress, Writer, Romantic (2005).

[16] Text of the Letter may be found paired with The Natural Daughter in Setzer's Broadview edition; a hypertext edition of the Letter with contextualizing resources can also be found at Romantic Circles: Mary Robinson, A Letter to the Women of England on the Injustice of Mental Subordination [1799]: A Romantic Circles Electronic Edition, ed. Adriana Craciun, Anne Irmen Close, Megan Musgrave, Orianne Smith, Romantic Circles, 2001, University of Maryland, <www.rc.umd.edu/editions/robinson>.

[17] Critical essays that consider Robinson's marketing of her poetry include: Judith Hawley, "Romantic Patronage: Mary Robinson and Coleridge Revisited," British Women's Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century: Authorship, Politics and History (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005): 62-75; Judith Pascoe, "Mary Robinson and the Literary Marketplace," Romantic Women Writers: Voices and Countervoices, ed. Paula Feldman and Theresa Kelly (Hanover: UP of New England, 1995): 252-68; and Jacqueline Labbe, "Selling One's Sorrows: Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson, and the Marketing of Poetry," Wordsworth Circle 25.2 (Spring 1994): 68-71.

[18] Rpt. in Ingamells 14 and also in the introduction to Shaffer's Broadview edition of Walsingham. A complete listing of prints featuring Robinson may be found in M.D. George; Ingamells, Byrne, Davenport, and Gristwood all print reproduced images of Robinson. Some satirical prints and engraved portraits are now also available online, including at the British National Portrait Gallery, which features eight engraved portraits of Robinson (after Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Dance) and three caricatures in which she is included: [Portraits of Mary Robinson], National Portrait Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, London. <http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?search
=ss&sText=Mary+Robinson&LinkID=mp03827
>.

About this Page

Published @ RC

August 2008

ProvinceOrState

Country