Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Eliza Haywood 2 (1693 - 1756)

BiographyEdit

Eliza Haywood nee Fowler was born around 1693 in England and died in early 1756. Haywood was buried at Saint Margaret’s Church in London. She worked as both a writer and briefly as a publisher, as well as an actress and playwright. This gave her a unique position on two different ends of both creative fields she loved. She wrote over 70 pieces of literary work including Love In Excess, a rewrite of The Fair Captive, The British Recluse, The Unfortunate Mistress, A Wife to be Let, Fantomina; or Love in a Maze and The Injur’d Husband. Much of her life before 1715 remains a mystery. This was the year she performed in a Dublin based adaptation of Shakespearian play. The identity of her husband is unknown but by the time she started acting she was a widow. She went on to have two children after this. She was part of Aaron Hills literacy circle along with several other London based creatives. This is where she the poet Richard Savage who might have fathered one of her children. William Hatchett was most likely the father of her other child. The two of them having both a collaborative working relationship and sexual one (Beasley[1]). She wrote novels, short stories, poems, essays, play, operas and more. She also translated several works from Europe including The Virtuous Villager by Charles de Fieux, The Sophia by Jolyot de Crébillon and La Belle Assemblée by Madame de Gomez.

Career and WorksEdit

Her writings covered a wide range of genres from romance to the political. Her first published work Love In Excess. It follows Counnt D’Elmont’s romantic encounters. He starts the story as a womanising rake who is changed by three major romantic encounters. The story includes multiple love triangles, disguises and mistaken identity. This novel is a work of amatory fiction, a precursor to the romance novel. The book was published in three parts much like acts of a play (Whicher)[2].). D’Elmont has numerous women vying for his affections throughout all three parts but he ultimately ends ups with Mellioria a younger women who he meets in part two. She returns to a monastery at the beginning of part three and is later kidnapped. She also wrote instructional essays on virtues including A Present for a Servant-Maid. Or, the Sure Means of Gaining Love and Esteem. As the title suggests it was directed towards servant maids giving instructions on hygiene and shopping, cooking tips and warning against “sluttishness, tale-bearing, staying on errands, telling family affairs, aping the fashion, and giving saucy answers” (Whicher[2]). There was also advice for if their employer tried to romance them which changed depending on his age and marital status. it aimed help these women become the best they could be in Haywood’s opinion helping their careers and lives better. The better they are as employees the happier their employers will be.

One of her most successful theatrical works was an opera, The Opera of Operas (Beasley)[1]. This was written with Hatchett. The play focuses on English folklore character Tom Thumb. After capturing a giantess, King Arthur arranges for him to marry the princess. The King becomes obsessed with the giantess who during her captivity has fallen for Tom. Lord Grizzle is in love with the Princess. Romantic rivalries between multiple characters then lead to death and violence within the play. Grizzle convinces the princess to marry him instead. When Tom attempts to woo her, Glumdalca the Giantess witnesses resulting in a fight. Tom sides with the princess and they then get married. Grizzle is enraged by this leading to Glumdalca and Grizzles deaths. Tom is then eaten by a cow and everyone else then stabs each other. Merlin then uses magic to Tom out of the cow and revive everyone else[3].

She is remembered as one of the most prolific authors and business women of the century. Having written 70 or at least having 70 surviving and conformed works as some of her later works were published anonymously. She spent most of her adult life writing even when she fell sick near the end of her life. She faced criticism for her views, morals reflected in her work and fictionalised portrayals of people found within her work. Her political and feminist themes helped revive interest in herself and her works centuries after her passing. Her romance and domestic novels helped to pave “the way for modest Fanny Burney and Quiet Jane Austen” (Whicher)[2] with some believing one of her characters may have influenced Austen’s Emma. She influenced not just the genres but for writing as a profession for women.

Further ReadingEdit

For a more in-depth history of Haywood, I suggest reading Whicher’s The Life And Romances Of Mrs. Eliza Haywood. Which looks into her life and career more thoroughly.The Women’s Writing journal also has several articles on Love in Excess such as one by Caroline Koegler in volume 28, 2021 and another by Jennifer L. Airey in volume 26 2019.


References

[1] Haywood, Eliza. “Chronology of Events in Eliza Haywood’s Life.” The Injur’d Husband and Lasselia, edited by Jerry C. Beasley, University Press of Kentucky, 1999, pp. xxxix–xlii. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j2f8.6. Accessed 22 Sep. 2022

[2] Whicher, George Frisbie. The Life And Romances Of Mrs. Eliza Haywood. Columbia University Press, 1915, https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10889/pg10889.html, Accessed 18 Sept 2022.

[3] "The Opera Of Operas; Or, Tom Thumb The Great Alter'd From The Life And Death Of Tom Thumb The Great And Set To Musick After The Italian Manner. As It Is Performing At The New Theatre In The Hay-Market | Robbins Library Digital Projects". D.Lib.Rochester.Edu, https://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/haywood-hatchett-opera-of-operas.

  1. a b c Haywood, Eliza. “Chronology of Events in Eliza Haywood’s Life.” The Injur’d Husband and Lasselia, edited by Jerry C. Beasley, University Press of Kentucky, 1999, pp. xxxix–xlii. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j2f8.6. Accessed 22 Sep. 2022
  2. a b c d Whicher, George Frisbie. The Life And Romances Of Mrs. Eliza Haywood. Columbia University Press, 1915, https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10889/pg10889.html, Accessed 18 Sept 2022.
  3. a b "The Opera Of Operas; Or, Tom Thumb The Great Alter'd From The Life And Death Of Tom Thumb The Great And Set To Musick After The Italian Manner. As It Is Performing At The New Theatre In The Hay-Market | Robbins Library Digital Projects". D.Lib.Rochester.Edu, https://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/haywood-hatchett-opera-of-operas.