Eliza Fowler Haywood

Eliza Fowler Haywood (1693–1756).
The Female Spectator. Volume 1.
Dublin: Printed for George and Alexander Ewing, 1746. (05896)

Eliza Fowler Haywood was an actress, essayist, and prolific novelist. Although many details of her biography remain uncertain, by 1715 she was working as an actress under the name “Mrs. Haywood.” In 1719 she published Love in Excess, the first of numerous immensely popular works of amatory fiction in which innocent female characters fell prey to domineering, lustful men. She wrote The Anti-Pamela; or Feign’d Innocence Detected in 1741 as a satirical response to Samuel Richardson’s moralizing best-seller Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded (1740). Her later novels revealed a more mature outlook on women’s roles in society and recognized the fulfillment that women could find in marriage. Long forgotten, her writings have earned recent critical acclaim.

One of Haywood’s most influential publications was The Female Spectator (1744-1746), the first periodical for women that was written by a woman. In this work she adopted the identities of four “contributors”: the Female Spectator, the happily-married Mira, the accomplished Euphrosine, and the Widow of Quality. These four personalities are depicted in the exhibited frontispiece to the first volume. The essays cover a wide variety of women’s issues, ranging from beauty secrets and satires of social manners to serious advice concerning the loss of a husband or child.

Listen as curator Dr. Eric White talks about Eliza Fowler Haywood during a tour.

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