Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Eliza Haywood (c. 1693–1756)

Eliza Haywood (c. 1693- 1756)Edit

Eliza Haywood was a transgressive writer of the 18th century in England, who, whilst having little conclusive documentation regarding her life, contributed richly to the fabric of women's writing during the time, as her works often being described as amorous and satirical, which was largely uncommon accolades for women writers of her time. During her lifetime, Haywood wrote many novels, periodicals and non-fiction works, as well as being involved in the writings and productions of plays. Haywood is a significant figure in the history of women’s writing before the 1900s, due to her works in various genres subverting contemporary gender conventions. Haywood is also an interesting female writer to discuss in relation to women writers as so much is unknown about this women, in both her personal and private life, which in turn opens up many interesting conversations around the importance of placing these women in women's writing history and whether or not it matters knowing so little about someone of notoriety [1] and contributing to the rise of the novel in England [2].

BiographyEdit

Eliza Haywood’s personal life and marriage is somewhat unknown to modern day scholars, due to a combination of a lack of surviving or known documentation and contesting accounts of her life [3]. The following is Haywood’s own writing in 1729 to an unidentified patron in (as accounted for in Blouch’s Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity [3]:

My maiden name is Fowler, and [I] am nearly related to Sir Richard of the Grange; an unfortunate marriage has reduc’d me to the melancholly necessity of depending on my Pen for the support of myself and two children, the eldest of whom no more than 7 years of age.

Early LifeEdit

Haywood was most likely born in 1693 in Shropshire or London, England- a contested date and place due to lack of records [2]. Haywood’s parentage and education are also speculated. It is known that her maiden name was Fowler. Blouch (1991) gives a detailed account of the perspectives of scholars such as Whicher, Baker, Priestley, Spender in relation to the parentage of Haywood on pages 536 to 538 in Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity. It is evident that Haywood was educated in literature and not just in the domestic sphere, as was common for women in the 17th and 18th century. As Haywood herself wrote in an edition of her periodical The Female Spectator, she had “an education more liberal than is ordinarily allowed to a persons of my sex” (Haywood, The Female Spectator- a periodical between 1744 and 1746).

MarriageEdit

Although Haywood wrote extensively about her marriage throughout her work, little is known about who she was married to. From Haywood’s own account, stated above, it is evident that she was once married and had two children.

Due to Haywood’s own accounts of her marriage being ambiguous[4] and her husband remaining unidentified, some scholars have speculated that she was widowed, whereas others have conjectured that her husband may have left her. For example, Whicher (1915) conclusively states that Haywood was married to Valentine Haywood[5] which has since been disproved [4].  

Haywood had two children which in her time where rumoured to be illegitimate, which modern day scholars also believe [4]. In Alexander Pope’s second book of Dunciad,

line 157 and 158, 1728, he used rhetoric and wrote “... Eliza placed/ Two babes of love”, a metaphor for illegitimate children. As Backscheider writes “Haywood's first child appears to have been fathered by Richard Savage and her second by William Hatchett[6].

CareerEdit

During Haywood’s lifetime she was an avid actress and playwright, as well as author and publisher of books and periodicals, highlighting her clear and respected career in many areas in women's writing and literature.

Haywood is first known to enter the theatrical sphere in 1715 in Dublin, Ireland, performing in Thomas Shadwell's Shakespeare adaptation, Timon of Athens. She was regularly known to perform in plays at Lincoln's Inn Fields. Haywood then continued to appear in plays and wrote her first play Fair Captive in 1721[7]. Haywood continued her playwright career sporadically until her death.  

Haywood’s literary career supposedly began in 1719 with her first known publication Love in Excess. This book was of amatory fiction and her subsequent novels, such as Idalia (1723) and Fantomina (1724), solidified her reputation as a prolific and licentious writer. These works of Haywood’s explored women’s sexuality and intelligence[8] and subverted contemporary gender conventions [9].

From 1720 to 1724 Haywood was involved in the ‘Hillarian’ coterie, having a complex relationship with its members Aaron Hill and Martha Fowke. This group focused on the language of passions in their prose and fiction[10].

Haywood also wrote seven (known) periodicals in her lifetime from 1744 with The Female Spectator in 1744 to The Husband in 1756[11]. Her periodicals featured essays, social and political commentary, and The Wife (1755), The Young Lady (1756) and The Husband (1756) can be seen as conduct books.

During the peak of her career, Haywood was also a publisher at a time when females in the publishing industry was unheard of. Perhaps due to this, little is known today about her publishing career.

DeathEdit

Haywood wrote until her death on the February 25th, 1756 and was buried on the March 3rd 1756 in St Margaret’s parish churchyard [12]. Although the reason is unknown, Haywood's burial was delayed for more than a week and her inheritance tax was never paid.

WorksEdit

Eliza Haywood is attributed as “the author of more than seventy pieces in six genres over four decades”, however the full extent of her publications is unknown, again due to a lack of records as well as Haywood using pseudonyms for some of her works [13]. In 2004, Patrick Spedding, on page four of his biography of Eliza Haywood, composed a list of 72 works that were “certainly by Haywood” (17); however, this list has been contested by Orr in 2011 where she sates that 29 works on this list is “based on less than satisfactory evidence”[14]. Haywood herself stated in 1729, she “[I depend] on my Pen for the support of myself and two children” [3].

After Haywood became famous for her debut novel, Love in Excess, which was published in 1719, soon becoming a bestseller, she then published many short novels throughout the next decade. These novels were different than typical novels today, where it was a romantic story short enough to be read all at once.

Below are some of Haywood’s more popular and universally attributed works.

Fiction

Plays

Periodicals

  • The Female Spectator, twenty-four volumes (1744- 1746)
  • The Wife (1755)
  • The Husband (1756)
  • The Young Lady (1756)

Reputation and LegacyEdit

During her lifetime, Haywood’s works were quite popular in reception. The intent and subject of her early works aroused the passions and intrigue of her readers due to their amorous nature [15]; however, many people criticized and ridiculed Haywood for her works because of this. This is evident in Pope and Savage’s depictions of her. It is thought that Haywood’s reputation as a licentious writer somewhat recovered just before her death with her more “moralistic” work, such as The Female Spectator (1744- 46) and The Invisible Spy (1754)[16]. Haywood herself encouraged this narrative in 1744 in the first volume of The Female Spectator saying:

I never was a beauty, and am now very far from being young; . . . I shall also acknowledge, that I have run through as many scenes of vanity and folly as the greatest coquet of them all.—Dress, equipage, and flattery, were the idols of my heart. . . . My life, for some years, was a continued round of what I then called pleasure, and my whole time engrossed by a hurry of promiscuous diversions. But whatever inconveniencies such a manner of conduct has brought upon myself, I have this consolation, to think that the public may reap some benefit from it.[17]

Haywood became more popular among modern-day scholars from the 1980s. Many scholars have taken on the debate of Haywood’s biography and thoroughly researched her works and their reception. The rise in Haywood’s rediscovered popularity nowadays is evident in the many editions of her works in recent years and the accessibility of them. Additionally, in 2017 the Chawton House, Hampshire England, had a two-month long exhibition on Eliza Haywood.

During her own period, Haywood was not typically successful in context, as she was not able to produce her texts at a large scale, likely due to her class, status and position as a woman in the literature world. Despite this, she is well-regarded by scholars today.

While many scholars debate the facts behind Eliza Haywood’s life and works, she is an important part of women literacy history. There is no consensus on Haywood’s legacy, yet it is evident that she made an impact on her society in the 17th and 18th century through her amorous fictions, political statements and satire and is a significant women writer of her time.

ReferencingEdit

Backscheider, Paula R. “Introduction.” Selected Fictions and Drama of Eliza Haywood, 1999, pp. xiii- xliv. https://genotypeinczgrxr.onion.ly/LG/0398/50cd4bd75651162f2a0cecfdb7cadc6b

Blouch, Christine. “Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 31, no. 3, 1991, pp. 535–552. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450861. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.

Orr, Leah. "The Basis for Attribution in the Canon of Eliza Haywood." Library, vol. 12, no. 4, 2011, pp. 335-375.

Powell, Manushag N. "Eliza Haywood, Periodicalist(?)." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 163-186.

Wilputte, Earla A., 1959, and Palgrave Connect Literature Collection 2014. Passion and Language in Eighteenth-Century Literature: The Aesthetic Sublime in the Work of Eliza Haywood, Aaron Hill, and Martha Fowke. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2014, doi:10.1057/9781137442055.

Further ReadingEdit

For academic research about Eliza Haywood and her works:Edit

  • Bowers, Toni. Politics of Motherhood: British Writing and Culture, 1680-1720. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996, pp. 124-47.
  • Blouch, Christine. “Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 31, no. 3, 1991, pp. 535–552. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450861.
  • Orr, Leah. "The Basis for Attribution in the Canon of Eliza Haywood." Library, vol. 12, no. 4, 2011, pp. 335-375.
  • Powell, Manushag N. "Eliza Haywood, Periodicalist(?)." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 163-186.
  • Wilputte, Earla A., 1959, and Palgrave Connect Literature Collection 2014. Passion and Language in Eighteenth-Century Literature: The Aesthetic Sublime in the Work of Eliza Haywood, Aaron Hill, and Martha Fowke. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2014, doi:10.1057/9781137442055.

For some of Eliza Haywood’s works:Edit

For some interesting internet articles on Eliza Haywood:Edit

  1. Wilputte, Earla A., 1959, and Palgrave Connect Literature Collection 2014. Passion and Language in Eighteenth-Century Literature: The Aesthetic Sublime in the Work of Eliza Haywood, Aaron Hill, and Martha Fowke. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2014, doi:10.1057/9781137442055. pp.4
  2. a b Blouch, Christine. “Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 31, no. 3, 1991, pp. 536. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450861. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.
  3. a b c Blouch, Christine. “Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 31, no. 3, 1991, pp. 537. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450861. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.
  4. a b c Blouch, Christine. “Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 31, no. 3, 1991, pp. 539. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450861. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.
  5. Whicher, George F., and Project Gutenberg Online Catalog. Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood. Project Gutenberg, 2004. https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10889/pg10889.html
  6. Backscheider, Paula R. “Introduction.” Selected Fictions and Drama of Eliza Haywood, 1999, pp. xv. https://genotypeinczgrxr.onion.ly/LG/0398/50cd4bd75651162f2a0cecfdb7cadc6b
  7. Backscheider, Paula R. “Introduction.” Selected Fictions and Drama of Eliza Haywood, 1999, pp. xxv.
  8. Backscheider, Paula R. “Introduction.” Selected Fictions and Drama of Eliza Haywood, 1999, pp. xxii
  9. Wilputte, Earla A., 1959, and Palgrave Connect Literature Collection 2014. Passion and Language in Eighteenth-Century Literature: The Aesthetic Sublime in the Work of Eliza Haywood, Aaron Hill, and Martha Fowke. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2014, doi:10.1057/9781137442055. pp.4
  10. Wilputte, Earla A., 1959, and Palgrave Connect Literature Collection 2014. Passion and Language in Eighteenth-Century Literature: The Aesthetic Sublime in the Work of Eliza Haywood, Aaron Hill, and Martha Fowke. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2014, doi:10.1057/9781137442055.pp.2-3.
  11. Powell, Manushag N. "Eliza Haywood, Periodicalist(?)." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 167.
  12. Backscheider, Paula R. “Introduction.” Selected Fictions and Drama of Eliza Haywood, 1999, pp. xiv. https://genotypeinczgrxr.onion.ly/LG/0398/50cd4bd75651162f2a0cecfdb7cadc6b
  13. Blouch, Christine. “Eliza Haywood and the Romance of Obscurity.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 31, no. 3, 1991, pp. 544. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450861. Accessed 28 Apr. 2021.
  14. Orr, Leah. "The Basis for Attribution in the Canon of Eliza Haywood." Library, vol. 12, no. 4, 2011, pp. 335.
  15. Wilputte, Earla A., 1959, and Palgrave Connect Literature Collection 2014. Passion and Language in Eighteenth-Century Literature: The Aesthetic Sublime in the Work of Eliza Haywood, Aaron Hill, and Martha Fowke. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY, 2014, doi:10.1057/9781137442055. pp.3
  16. Powell, Manushag N. "Eliza Haywood, Periodicalist(?)." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 163-164.
  17. As quoted on http://jasna.org/publications-2/persuasions-online/vol38no1/dow-simpson-seth-intro/exhibit-1-article/ under the title 'In The Exhibition Room'