Haywood, Eliza (c. 1693–1756)

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Haywood, Eliza (c. 1693–1756)

English novelist and playwright. Born Eliza Fowler in London, England, around 1693; died on February 25, 1756; daughter of a London tradesman named Fowler; married Reverend Valentine Haywood, in 1717 (separated 1721); children: two.

It is written that Eliza Haywood lived a reckless youth. At age 21, in 1714, she surfaced on the stage as an actress in Dublin, then moved on to London. Three years later, she entered into an unhappy marriage with the Reverend Valentine Haywood. In 1721, she revised a play, The Fair Captive, by a Captain Hurst for Lincoln's Inn Fields. Her first original play was A Wife to be Lett which opened at the Drury Lane in 1723; she also collaborated on an adaptation of Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb. But like Mary de la Rivière Manley , Haywood left her mark by writing nearly 40 sensational and sizable novels, many based on social scandals of the day. Her first, Love in Excess, or the Fatal Enquiry (1719–1720), met with substantial commercial success; that same year, she published Letters from a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier (1720), by subscription. Haywood's British Recluse came out in 1722, followed by The Injur'd Husband (1722) and Eovaai (1736).

After Haywood's husband abandoned her and her two small children in 1721, her literary enemies had circulated slanderous stories about her, possibly founded on her works rather than her personal history. In her Memoirs, of a certain Island adjacent to Utopia, written by a celebrated author of that country. Now translated into English (1725), Haywood appended a key in which the characters were explained by initials to denote living persons. The actual names to these initials are supplied in the copy at the British Museum. The Secret History of the Present Intrigues of the Court of Caramania (1727) also implicated real-life individuals. Alexander Pope satirized Haywood in The Dunciad, which was made obvious by a note alluding to the:

profligate licentiousness of those shameless scribblers (for the most part of that sex which ought least to be capable of such malice or impudence) who in libellous Memoirs and Novels reveal the faults or misfortunes of both sexes, to the ruin of public fame, or disturbance of private happiness.

Jonathan Swift wrote to Henrietta Howard, countess of Suffolk (1688–1767): "Mrs Haywood I have heard of as a stupid, infamous, scribbling woman, but have not seen any of her productions." Haywood responded, attacking Swift in her The Female Dunciad (1729); she also went after Samuel Richardson, mocking his Pamela with her Anti-Pamela, or Feign'd Innocence Detected (1740). Eliza Haywood continued to be a prolific writer of novels until her death on February 25, 1756. Her later works are characterized by severe propriety, though an anonymous story of The Fortunate Foundlings (1744), claiming to be an account of the children of Lord Charles Manners, is generally ascribed to her. In later life, she was the editor for The Female Spectator (1744–1746), contributed to The Tea Table, and had moved into the realm of domestic realism with Miss Betty Thoughtless (1751) and The History of Tommy and Jenny Jessamy (1753). A collected edition of her novels, plays and poems appeared in 1724, and her Secret Histories, Novels and Poems in 1725.

suggested reading:

Whicher, G.F. The Life and Romances of Eliza Haywood (1915).

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Haywood, Eliza (c. 1693–1756)

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