JoEllen DeLucia »

JoEllen DeLucia is Professor of English at Central Michigan University and the author of A Feminine Enlightenment: British Women Writers and the Philosophy of Progress, 1759–1820 (EUP, 2015). Recently, she co-edited an essay collection with Juliet Shields entitled Migration and Modernities: the State of Being Stateless, 1750–1850 (EUP, 2019). Portions of her current research project on George Robinson’s media network and Romantic-era literature have appeared in European Romantic Review and Jennie Batchelor and Manushag Powell’s Women’s Magazines and Print Culture 1690–1820s: The Long Eighteenth Century (2018).

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Date of acceptance: 9 January 2019.

Referring to this Article

J. DELUCIA. ‘ Radcliffe Incorporated: Ann Radcliffe, Mary Ann Radcliffe and the Minerva Author’, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 23 (Summer 2020)

Online: Internet (date accessed):
PDF DOI:10.18573/romtext.74

Radcliffe Incorporated

Ann Radcliffe, Mary Ann Radcliffe and the Minerva Author

Abstract Abstract

Abstract: This essay examines the false and dubious attributions of select Minerva novels to both Ann Radcliffe and her lesser known contemporary Mary Ann Radcliffe, arguing that the constellations of texts and authors that signified under the Radcliffe aegis point to the existence of a corporate Radcliffe whose influence on Romantic print culture has yet to be fully documented. In sales catalogues and later scholarly studies and encyclopedias, this corporate Radcliffe blended work initially published anonymously by the Minerva Press with the known output of Ann Radcliffe and Mary Ann Radcliffe. These texts include the Minerva novels The Fate of Velina de Guidova (1790), Radzivil, a Romance (1790), Mary Ann Radcliffe’s The Memoirs of Mrs Mary Ann Radcliffe (1810) and The Female Advocate; or an Attempt to Recover the Rights of Women from Male Usurpation (1799), in addition to the gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe. A composite created by the print market-place and later scholars' own compulsion to fix or challenge questionable attributions, this corporate Radcliffe elevates the popular Romantic practices of imitation and translation and provides an alternative to narratives of Romantic authorship that rely on singular genius and originality.


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Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823) never wrote a novel for the Minerva Press. [1] It is unlikely that Mary Ann Radcliffe (c. 1764–1810), the proto-feminist author of The Female Advocate (1799), did either. Despite this, catalogues, footnotes, bibliographies and scholarly essays have associated Ann Radcliffe and Mary Ann Radcliffe with a handful of anonymous Minerva novels, and both Radcliffes have travelled through literary history alongside the press and its owners William Lane and later A. K. Newman. These dubious attributions have resulted in the literary survival of select Minerva novels and contributed to the creation of our literary historical Radcliffe. Two such novels, The Fate of Velina de Guidova (1790) and Radzivil, a Romance (1790), exemplify this phenomenon. [2] Both Radzivil and Velina de Guidova were published anonymously by William Lane in 1790; the Radcliffe name was not attached to either novel until a 1798 Minerva catalogue attributed Velina de Guidova to a Mrs Radcliffe. [3] Years later, an 1814 catalogue assigned Radzivil to Mrs Ann Radcliffe. These post-publication attributions have been rightly understood as an attempt by Lane to capitalise on Ann Radcliffe’s growing fame and the public’s appetite for gothic fiction. The association of Ann Radcliffe with these texts persisted until Dorothy Blakey suggested the Scottish memoirist Mary Ann Radcliffe as the likely author of both Radzivil and Velina de Guidova in The Minerva Press 1790–1820 (1939). Mary Ann Radcliffe’s suspected authorship of the popular gothic fiction Manfroné; or, the One-Handed Monk (1809) and established authorship of a proto-feminist tract provided a rich potential identity for a Minerva novelist. [4] In the wake of the feminist recovery efforts of the late twentieth century, new encyclopedias of women writers embraced Mary Ann Radcliffe’s authorship of these texts; this impulse lingers in twentyfirst-century encyclopedias of women’s writing, which paradoxically frame Blakey’s attribution of these fictions to Mary Ann Radcliffe as an educated but likely mistaken guess yet continue under the author heading to use ‘Mary Ann Radcliffe—?’ as a placeholder. [5]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentBy continuing to signify under the Radcliffe aegis, these Minerva novels create a curious constellation of texts and authors: Ann Radcliffe’s established oeuvre; the anonymous Minerva novels, Radzivil and Velina de Guidova; and the certain and interesting output of Mary Ann Radcliffe, including The Memoirs of Mrs Mary Ann Radcliffe; in Familiar Letters to her Female Friend (1810) and the proto-feminist The Female Advocate; or an Attempt to Recover the Rights of Women from Male Usurpation (1799). The commercial and historical repackaging of these Minerva novels in catalogues and subsequent editions has much to tell us about the construction of literary history and Radcliffe’s place within it, particularly if, as Michael Gamer has recently claimed, ‘when writers and publishers begin assessing how given works might be better presented in altered garb or with a revised set of claims […] literary history begins’. [6] In literary historical terms, Radzivil and Velina de Guidova suggest a curious prehistory for both Radcliffes. Although Ann Radcliffe’s first two novels had been published anonymously by 1790, neither she nor Mary Ann Radcliffe had yet published anything under their own names. It is difficult to imagine that readers in 1790, who happened to read both Radzivil and Velina De Guidova, would have understood them as being written by the same person. Although both novels adapt an epistolary framework, their styles and settings are worlds apart. Building on the late eighteenth-century popularity of translations both real and contrived, Radzivil presents itself as a translation from Russian and recounts the adventures of two Polish sisters who travel through war-torn Eastern and Central Europe alongside a Hungarian officer who loves them both; in contrast, Velina de Guidova imitates and critiques Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), both displacing Werther’s plot from contemporary Germany to medieval Spain and including an attack on the narcissistic and immoral tendencies of Goethe’s protagonist.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentInstead of attempting to discover a ‘real author’ for these Minerva fictions, this essay uses these novels as a starting point for positing a corporate Radcliffe, an authorship that blends the known output of Ann Radcliffe with anonymous Minerva novels and the productions of the lesser-known protofeminist writer and memoirist Mary Anne Radcliffe. This approach illustrates that Lane and Newman’s disregard for the literary property and reputation of Ann Radcliffe and later scholarship’s desire to recover proto-feminist authors for Minerva texts provides an alternative to Gamer’s recent account of Romantic poets. As Gamer argues, in their negotiations with readers and publishers, poets such as William Wordsworth rearranged their poems and added new prefaces in subsequent editions or collected works, protecting their singular reputations and unique literary properties and wedding their work to a developing national canon. [7] Alternatively, the dubious attributions of Lane and Newman evidence Romantic booksellers building composite authors that blended the anonymous authors and translators of many of their fictions with Ann Radcliffe and her popular fictions, creating associations that instead of ‘remaking’ texts in order to bolster any one author’s integrity and originality linked Minerva fiction and Ann Radcliffe to imitation and translation. The literary historical Radcliffe that emerges from its association with Minerva fiction suggests that the exchangeable and composite authors of Romantic print culture exerted an influence on literary history that has yet to be fully documented.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentMapping these attributions suggests how continued study of Minerva Press novels can expose gaps in models of literary history that rely either on understandings of authorship rooted in genius or possessive individualism or on disciplinary categories that organise texts according to an author’s nation or gender. Recent feminist work on Romantic-era fiction has done much to unsettle the idea of the singular Romantic genius. Elizabeth Neiman suggests that Minerva novels posit a form of ‘collective authorship’, one that embraces imitation and intertextual borrowing as a means of communicating about aesthetic and literary categories both among the Minerva community and within Romantic print culture. [8] Similarly, Melissa Sodeman understands the formulaic sentimental fiction of the 1780s and 90s, much of which was written by women, as acutely aware of emerging and masculine ‘notions of authorship privileging originality and genius’. [9] According to Sodeman, sentimental and gothic writers such as Charlotte Smith and Ann Radcliffe deploy formulaic plots and intertextual references to memorialise an alternative literary history and mourn their own dispossession from the dominant narratives of literary history and value, which emerged at the end of the eighteenth century. Gathered under the Radcliffe aegis, Minerva novels such as Radzivil and Velina extend the story of collective authorship and complicate literary history in the ways that Neiman and Sodeman so deftly suggest; however, they also make visible a related transhistorical and corporate mode of authorship, a form of authorship that embraces the ways novels travel through time, acquiring new attributions and associations with each edition, catalogue listing, review, scholarly essay and encyclopedia entry. As Rita Felski writes:

The fate of literary works […] is tied to countless agents: publishers, reviewers, agents, bookstores, technologies of consumption, institutional frames, forms of adaptation and translation, the physical and material properties of books ranging from fonts to photographs, and so on. [10]

Instead of emphasising what we do not know about the authorship of anonymous Minerva novels, I would like to explore the authorial attributions—however dubious—that enabled them to survive first commercially and then historically.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentInstead of suspiciously searching for the real Radcliffe, embracing a corporate Radcliffe offers an alternative model of authorship that makes room for discussion of not just intertextuality, but also translation, as well as looser textual affinities that accrue over time. This form of reading provides evidence of a Radcliffe style or aesthetic—what we might think of as a proto-Radcliffe— that was shaped by Minerva novels she never wrote and that were published well before Radcliffe was dubbed by Nathan Drake ‘the Shakespeare of Romance Writers’ in 1798. [11] These attributions also get at the legacy of largely unknown or ‘forgotten’ women writers at the end of the eighteenth century, such as anonymous Minerva novelists and the only slightly better remembered Mary Ann Radcliffe. Interestingly, Mary Ann Radcliffe may never have written a novel, but her reputation as a Minerva novelist has informed readings of her memoir, which details the economic and legal obstacles she faced as a woman, as well as her proto-feminist tract, an early critique of the gendered inequities built into modern economic systems. [12] Finally, these novels and their complex bibliographies suggest that our aversion to anonymous and commercial texts and our critical compulsion to both recover authors and ‘authenticate’ attributions has obscured the influence of the novels of the Minerva Press and the transnational and transtemporal forces that shaped them.

Radzivil and Velina de Guidova: The Proto-Radcliffe

Known for their meta-discussions about novel writing, female authorship and the Minerva press itself, Minerva novels act as important archives of Romantic print culture. Paratextual materials, such as advertisements, prefaces and even reviews feature discussions of authorship and often promote the press; related discussions of authorship and publishing even make their way into the novels’ plots. For example, two anonymous novels, What Has Been (1801) and The Follies of St James’s Street (1789), feature female authors as characters and portray William Lane as a benevolent bookseller, always ready to buy the literary properties of young and often desperate women and either relieve their short-term distress or provide them with an introduction to the literary world. [13] Although neither Radzivil nor Velina de Guidova includes an explicit discussion of the Minerva novelist or of Lane, in their paratexts and plots they engage in the press’s ongoing conversation about authorship, particularly the role that translation, imitation and foreign fiction played in positioning the Minerva novelist within Romantic print culture. Whereas Radzivil draws attention to the role of translators and editors in the creation of the Minerva author, Velina de Guidova emphasises formula fiction, translation and imitation as equally important factors. Like canonical texts by Goethe and Walter Scott, Minerva novels participated in the creation of what Andrew Piper has called the ‘transnational nature of the bibliographic imagination’ during the Romantic era. [14] They also anticipate the ways imitation, translation and transnationalism have shaped our understanding of the literary historical Radcliffe.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentRadzivil’s two prefaces, one from the author and another from an anonymous editor, highlight the importance of translation to the Minerva Press and make plain the press’s and Radcliffe’s strong connection to foreign sources and events. The title page itself describes Radzivil as ‘A Romance Translated from the Russ of the Celebrated M. Wocklow’, and is followed by the author’s preface, purportedly written in St Petersburg by the Russian author M. Wocklow. Both the names Radzivil and Wokloff (an alternative spelling of Wocklow) appear in contemporary English accounts of Catherine the Great and Frederick the Great and his partition of Poland, making it likely that the anonymous author borrowed from these sources in crafting the novel’s plot and paratext. Horace Walpole engaged in a similar subterfuge in The Castle of Otranto (1764). The first edition of Walpole’s novel presented itself as an ancient Italian book, found in the library of a Catholic family in Northern England and translated by a fictional William Marshal. Although not masquerading as an ancient romance, Radzivil includes an equally complex account of its journey into print. The first author’s preface claims that the novel was designed for ‘innocent amusement’ and that, although intended for a Russian audience, the plot and style ‘imitate’ the contemporary fiction written and sold in Paris and London. [15] The author argues that his efforts will be best judged by French and English speakers living in St Petersburg, but then qualifies this, claiming that he will be ‘particularly’ attentive to those who speak French because this is the language ‘into which the best English Novels are translated’ (I, ii). From the beginning, translation is positioned as both an amusing pastime and a means of engaging in cosmopolitan conversations about aesthetics and manners. The paratext positions Radzivil as a product of what Mary Helen McMurran describes in her study of eighteenth-century French and English novels as a still active early modern understanding of translation as a ‘ubiquitous task that belonged to all literary endeavour’ and an integral part of the learning process, [16] instead of the more modern perception of translation as a mode of cultural exchange between ‘the national and the foreign’. [17] The preface describes French speakers as the surest judges of the work’s success not because of their own national literature but because of their cosmopolitan familiarity with translations of English novels, gesturing towards what McMurran calls the ‘extranational’ history of the novel—a history which was repressed by the emergence of national canons in the nineteenth century. [18] In addition to presenting itself as a translation, the novel also recounts the wartime adventures of a Hungarian officer and two beautiful Polish sisters. Complete with dramatic battle scenes, accounts of attacks by Turkish banditti, flights from Russian prisons and descriptions of Enlightenment Vienna, the novel presents Minerva readers with a cosmopolitan Europe being reshaped by war. Radzivil’s paratext and plot point toward the extranational and, to borrow from Srivinas Aravamudan, the ‘translational’ nature of gothic romance and sentimental fiction more generally. [19]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentBuilding on the ‘author’s’ opening remarks about the text’s extranational origins, the editor’s preface provides a detailed description of Radzivil’s rendering into the English format offered to Minerva readers, mapping another complex transnational network of exchange. According to the editor, the initial translation of the Russian text was performed by an English clerk stationed in St Petersburg. He describes the translation of popular fiction as the clerk’s entertaining pastime and confesses that the clerk’s version featured so many ‘dialectic singularities’ that the editor was forced to ‘rewrite it’, despite the fact that he knows no Russian (I, vi). In order to meet the expectations of ‘an English reader’, he admits to major formal alterations, particularly the addition of chapter and volume breaks to what was initially ‘one long, uniform narration’ (I, vii). Although the editor mentions popular English novels, he makes no explicit mention of Radcliffe, neither does the editor; of course, the Radcliffe that the novels are later attributed to did not yet exist. If read outside of Minerva catalogues and more recent literary histories, the 1790 edition presents itself as a collaboration between a male author, a male translator and a male editor. These three men—all of whom, when one considers the Minerva Press’s attitude toward authorship—may be fictions; however, they belie long-standing conceptions of the press and its readers as almost wholly female and provide evidence for the claims of Deborah McLeod and Jan Fergus, who have documented both the significant number of male Minerva writers and readers of circulating-library fiction. [20] The post-publication attributions of this text to Radcliffe evidence the Minerva Press’s acknowledgment of changing perceptions of its fiction as mainly written by and for women, a perception that was created by Romanticera reviewers and later literary historians with a vested interest in feminising commercial fiction. These Radcliffe attributions also impact the Minerva Press’s and Ann Radcliffe’s relationship to continental source material. On the one hand, the press’s post-publication turn to an Ann Radcliffe forecloses any possibility of Radzivil’s being a translation and domesticates and anglicises the Minerva Press. On the other hand, the attribution can be understood as yoking Ann Radcliffe’s fiction more closely to foreign sources. Angela Wright has argued that Ann Radcliffe’s use of French legal texts, Rousseau and the fiction of Madame Genlis (1764–1830) as sources in her novels also illustrates an ‘underestimated continental literary heritage’ that has been downplayed by twentieth-century readers who depicted Radcliffe as a more nationalistic and conservative writer. [21] The link the Minerva Press forged between Ann Radcliffe and Radzivil complements Wright’s reading and provides more evidence of a continental Radcliffe circulating within Romantic print culture; more importantly, it positions the Minerva author as a shifting signifier that could alter identity, gender and nationality to meet the needs of the changing market and the emerging canon.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentUnlike Radzivil, Velina de Guidova begins without a preface or any mention of an author, even on its title page. However, the novel’s status as an imitation of Goethe positions this Minerva novel as a comment on the transnational circulation of texts, authors and ideas. In addition, Velina de Guidova suggests that imitations function as more than just derivative commercial forms but also further evidence of the extranational development and circulation of the novel during the Romantic period. The plot of the novel repeatedly reminds readers of its status as an imitation of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, as do direct references to Goethe’s novel. For example, Velina de Guidova is structured around a series of letters from Henrique to his friend Lorenzo Salvador, and like Werther’s friend Wilhelm, Lorenzo writes to encourage Henrique to restrain his passions and exert his reason:

I have seen a German book in your library whose beautiful simplicity of style and general sublimity of thought forms a most seductive charm. The Sorrows of Werter enchant us to destruction. It is a serpent hidden beneath a wreath of roses. I am too sensible of its charms, and alas! too well informed of their effect, not to wish the book had never existed. It has poisoned your mind, I fear, beyond the power of antidote. [22]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentAlthough the characters’ dispositions and the plot borrow significantly from Werther, the novel picks up gothic resonances by disavowing the contemporary setting of Goethe’s novel and transposing the events to medieval Spain; in addition, unlike the middle-class Charlotte and Werther, both Velina and Henrique are minor aristocrats. They meet on their parental estates in Spain and quickly fall in love; however, their feuding fathers force a break between the young lovers. Henrique leaves for Switzerland, where in imitation of Werther and in anticipation of Radcliffe’s much adored landscape descriptions, he projects his melancholy onto the sublime vistas he discovers in the Alps. Like many of Radcliffe’s heroines, Velina is isolated on her father’s estate and courted by a series of violent and possessive men and, eventually, unhappily married to an Italian marquis. Unable to possess the woman he loves, Henrique abandons his faith, and channels Werther when he proclaims that God ‘thought fit to afflict me beyond what I am able to endure’ (III, 144). Continuing to echo Werther’s sentiments, he says that he ‘could weep to the thought of what I once was and what I might have been: but it is now too late—the eternal seal is impressed upon my fate’ (III, 145–46). While borrowing from Goethe’s novel, Velina de Guidova’s ending deviates significantly from the original: Henrique’s suicide is thwarted by the death of the evil marquis and Velina and Henrique marry. These lovers remain ‘peculiarly sensible’, but they redirect their passions away from themselves and toward others in ‘gratitude to the power’ that saved them (III, 169). The novel’s plot imitates and critiques Werther, while also proleptically including characters and scenery that become markers of Radcliffe’s fiction.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentRead together Radzivil and Velina de Guidova foster conversations about translation and imitation as part not only of the Minerva Press but also the corporate Radcliffe, which as I have been suggesting was created and sustained in part through these texts. As Radzivil recalls Radcliffe’s own connection to French sources and European wars, Velina de Guidova connects Minerva and Radcliffe to German texts and politics. Between 1779 and 1788, the first English translation of Goethe’s novel went through five editions. This complements the figures on translations of German novels into English, which suggest that of ‘1421 novels first published in Britain in 1770–1799, at least 51 were translated from the German’, including Minerva translations published by Lane such as another 1790 novel, The Baron of Manstow. [23] James Raven has linked these German translations to the ‘full fledged fashion for novels entitled “from the German”, when in fact they were penned from desks in London and the home counties’. [24] We might extend Raven’s claim to include imitations of German gothic novels, Werther imitations and fictions like Velina de Guidova that blend elements of both. In fact, Velina de Guidova is one of a number of English imitations of The Sorrows of Young Werther written between 1790 and 1805, the period Syndy McMillen Conger has identified as the most active period for English imitations and adaptations of Goethe’s novel. [25] As Conger notes, novelists and poets, such as Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson and Anna Seward, used Werther and Charlotte’s story to temper the radical politics of sensibility, generating a ‘new sensibility’ that mediated the more radical sentiments of Goethe through a feminine and Christian lens. [26] Of course, Radcliffe understood and participated in this redefinition, channeling her heroines’ famous self-command in the face of adversity as well as her own response to the Alps in her travel narrative Journey Made in the Summer of 1794, through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany with a Return Down Rhine (1795) through Goethe-inspired descriptions of sublime landscapes. Although Radzivil and Velina de Guidova are, as Dorothy Blakey long ago noted, unable to be attributed to the Radcliffe who wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), they provide evidence of how a publisher and innovative marketer like Lane traded on and helped create the Radcliffe brand, while at the same time connecting Goethe, Minerva novels and Radcliffe to what Piper has called a transnational ‘history of networked thought’, which was fostered by booksellers, translators and authors, and ran between as well as within Romantic novels. [27] Notably, they also provide evidence of the corporate Radcliffe’s tastes and sensibilities operating within the Minerva Press well before this Radcliffe was concretised and became the commercial phenomenon and, later, the literary historical marker that we know today.

From Ann Radcliffe to Mary Ann Radcliffe: Incorporating Radcliffe

First issued by the Minerva Press in 1790, Radzivil and Velina de Guidova appeared at a point when Ann Radcliffe had published her first two works anonymously. The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789) and her A Sicilian Romance (1790) were both published not by Lane but one of his rivals, the circulating-library proprietors Hookham & Carpenter. Although the title page of A Sicilian Romance carried the attribution by the ‘Authoress of The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne’, Ann Radcliffe’s name did not appear on the title page of any of her fictions until the second edition of The Romance of the Forest, which was published in 1792. [28] The Minerva catalogues’ post-publication attributions of Radzivil and Velina de Guidova to Ann Radcliffe came after the enormous success of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and the publication of her penultimate novel The Italian (1797). Although William Lane’s marketing strategies have been lauded as revolutionising the fiction market, his backwards projection of the Radcliffe name onto texts of suspect origin is not unique. In her recent work on Defoe attribution, Ashley Marshall notes that the circulating-library proprietor Francis Noble, another of William Lane’s contemporaries, was the first person to attribute Moll Flanders (1722) and Roxana (1724) to Defoe, decades after his death. Although Noble had already published anonymous versions of both texts earlier in the century, in the mid-1770s he attributed both novels to Defoe and bowdlerised them, making them, as the Defoe bibliographers Furbank and Owens write, ‘suitable for a genteel circulating library readership’. [29] Marshall concludes that ‘[w] hat is now regarded as Defoe’s major fiction was not firmly associated with him until late in the eighteenth century’. [30] Although Marshall stops well short of discounting Noble’s assignation of these texts to Defoe—a provenance that helped construct the standard rise of the novel narrative—she establishes Noble’s post-publication attributions as a marketing ploy that gestures towards the difficulty in separating our literary histories from the early marketers of the fiction we study. Attribution in studies of Radcliffe is similarly complex; although, because Radcliffe wrote outside of the realist tradition, there was both less enthusiasm surrounding the assignation of anonymous texts to her in the mid-twentieth century and later less time spent scrutinising the attributions that did exist. Despite this, like Noble’s commercialisation of Defoe, Lane’s and later A. K. Newman’s marketing strategies have shaped the way we read and write about her work. Instead of thinking about these attributions as distorting an authentic Radcliffe, tracing the emergence of these attributions throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries produces a corporate Radcliffe built by the commercial structures that shaped literature during the period and that continue to impact our literary histories. [31]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe bibliographic history of Radzivil and Velina de Guidova collects a number of women writers under the Radcliffe aegis. These writers became largely exchangeable and often stand in for the Minerva author. Circulating-library catalogues, such as the ones issued by Lane and Newman, emerge as a major factor in the creation of the corporate Radcliffe. If the Minerva library included the 17,000 titles listed in its 1802 catalogue, browsing the collection would be no easy task. [32] Visitors to the library, those who bought or borrowed books remotely and the provincial circulating-library proprietors supplied by Lane (not to mention proprietors in the American colonies, Jamaica and even India) would require catalogues to guide their selections. [33] Catalogues often helped readers make choices by linking titles to popular authors, such as Radcliffe, through the often ‘unauthorised’ use of their names. Lane and later Newman obviously understood the Radcliffe name as a powerful draw. If they were lucky enough to find an author with a similar last name, they often linked her work to Ann Radcliffe’s known fiction, conflating Radcliffes by omitting first names and relying on an indeterminate Mrs Radcliffe or in title pages combining the work and identities of different Radcliffes. For example, in 1819, Newman reprinted a second edition of Manfroné, which was originally published and attributed to Mary Ann Radcliffe by J. F. Hughes in 1809; Newman followed Hughes in attributing it to Mary Ann Radcliffe but adds to her name the additional assignation ‘the author of The Mysterious Baron’. [34] Donald K. Adams notes that

The Mysterious Baron, or the Castle in the Forest, A Gothic Story was in fact the work of a Mrs. Eliza or Elizabeth Ratcliffe; it had been published by Lane and Newman at the Minerva Press in 1808. Newman had either forgotten the identities of his several authors named Radcliffe (or Ratcliffe), or he wished (in 1819) to compound the confusion over Ann Ward Radcliffe’s 22-year silence. [35]

The intentional conflation of multiple Radcliffes survived the Minerva imprint and persisted well into the nineteenth century. Adams notes that an 1844 edition of the popular Manfroné extended Newman’s strategy, attributing the work to Mary Ann Radcliffe, ‘Author of “The Italian,” etc.’ [36] This composite Radcliffe soon migrated into scholarship.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentNo one seriously attempted to sort out these various Radcliffes until Dorothy Blakey’s 1939 appraisal of Minerva fiction; however, in attempting to separate Ann Radcliffe from the Minerva Press, she introduced additional bibliographic inconsistencies. In her entry for The Fate of Velina de Guidova, she challenges G. F. Singer’s careless attribution of Velina de Guidova and Radzivil to Ann Radcliffe in his 1933 The Epistolary Novel. She continues to note that he ‘does not say on what grounds. It is attributed by a Minerva Library catalogues of 1802 and 1814 to Mrs. Radcliffe, but is probably by Mrs. Mary Ann Radcliffe, author of Manfroné; or The one-handed monk (1809)’. [37] The entry for Radzivil is almost identical, except that she comments that the novel is not attributed to ‘Mrs. Ann Radcliffe’ until the 1814 catalogue. [38] Since Blakey’s study most scholars have ascribed these novels to Mary Ann Radcliffe. Resources, such as the Orlando database, place Radzivil and Velina under the heading ‘suppositious novels’ and persuasively argue for the near impossibility of Mary Ann Radcliffe’s authorship, but still catalogue them under her name. [39] The 2007 edition of Manfroné issued by the Valancourt Press features Mary Ann Radcliffe’s name on the cover, despite Dale Townshend’s thoroughly convincing challenge to her authorship of Manfroné as well as Radzivil and Velina de Guidova in an afterword.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentAs Townshend, Peter Garside and others have argued, although a skilled writer, Mary Ann Radcliffe’s known output bears little resemblance to these Minerva fictions. In addition, her detailed three-volume memoir includes no mention of work for Minerva nor any interest in Goethe or Eastern European history. [40] Without reading her memoir, it would be easy to explain her omission of these novels by deferring to the still pervasive idea that many women writers were forced to disavow their fiction writing as a means of protecting their reputations, but this does not seem likely in the case of Mary Ann Radcliffe. Her lengthy autobiography includes frank accounts of her husband’s alcoholism and habitual mishandling of money, including his loss of a significant portion of her fortune through gambling and other ill-conceived expenditures, and his misdeeds often leave her satirically ‘ruminating […] on the comforts of matrimony’. [41] In addition, she recounts the work she has to undertake as a lady’s companion, such as carrying (with the aid of another servant) her employer’s ‘ponderous weight of twelve or fourteen stone round the garden or pleasure grounds’ (pp. 124–25). Her shameless accounts of running a lodging-house, working as a governess and opening a store called ‘The Ladies cheap Shoe Ware-house’ indicate that she would not be ashamed to own herself a Minerva author.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentDespite the distance between the Scottish and Catholic-born Mary Ann Radcliffe’s life and the life of Ann Radcliffe, the English Dissenter, wellcompensated novelist and wife of a hard-working newspaperman, it is clear that Mary Ann Radcliffe’s own career as both a memoirist and writer of a Wollstonecraft-inspired treatise on women’s rights was in part supported by the accident of her last name. As she recounts in her Memoirs, when she first approached the reputable booksellers Vernor & Hood about her protofeminist treatise, which she intended to publish anonymously and call ‘An Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain’, they convinced her to change the name to The Female Advocate; moreover, as she explains, they also ‘strongly recommended giving my name to it. Whether, with a view to extend the sale, from the same name at that period standing high amongst the novel readers,—or from whatever other motive, is best known to himself’ (p. 387). The tongue-incheek affect that dominates her autobiography suggests not only her awareness of her publisher’s desire to combine her marketable last name with a treatise carrying a Wollstonecraft-inspired title, but also her complicity in acting as an imitation or doppelgänger for Ann Radcliffe in Romantic print culture. The affinity between Ann Radcliffe’s gothic fiction and Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminist philosophy encouraged by Mary Ann Radcliffe’s publisher also anticipates current feminist scholarship, which often pairs these two writers, suggesting one way in which our own scholarship bears an uncanny resemblance to Romantic marketing strategies. Contemporary accounts of The Female Advocate’s reception suggest that Vernor & Hood’s strategy worked. Ann Radcliffe’s most recent and authoritative biographer Rictor Norton notes that many readers of The Female Advocate believed that they were reading a work by Ann Radcliffe and that the French translation ‘was specifically attributed’ to ‘the Mrs. Radcliffe’ in 1799. Norton speculates that Mary Ann Radcliffe’s Memoirs reached a second edition because they were ‘thought to contain the memoirs of the mighty magician of Udolpho’. [42] For some readers, Mary Ann Radcliffe’s autobiography must have fulfilled their desire to know the notoriously reclusive author of their favorite gothic fictions. An 1812 review of her Memoirs from the British Critic even registers disappointment at discovering the autobiography not to be by ‘the very ingenious and much lamented Mrs Radcliffe’. [43] This review appears even more peculiar when one realises that Ann Radcliffe was not yet dead when it was written. As Norton demonstrates, rumours of Ann Radcliffe’s death and descent into madness began circulating in print at least a decade before her actual death in 1823, and her peculiar dead–alive status provides further evidence of the distance between the ‘real’ Radcliffe and the literary historical Radcliffe constructed by print.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentRecent scholarship, including Norton’s important and excellent biography of Ann Radcliffe, largely maintains and even compounds the conflation of Ann Radcliffe, Mary Ann Radcliffe and the fiction of the Minerva Press. Writing almost a decade before Dale Townshend’s work on the attribution of Mary Ann Radcliffe’s fiction, Norton unquestionably accepts her as the author of Velina de Guidova, Radzivil and Manfroné. This idea of Mary Ann Radcliffe as a Minerva writer will be sustained by Norton’s biography into the foreseeable future; despite its foibles, it is unquestionably the best existing biography of Ann Radcliffe, and it continues to be used by scholars and students. Norton’s acceptance of Mary Ann Radcliffe’s authorship of these novels leads him to unlikely conclusions. He conjectures that the ‘1809 rumor of Mrs. Radcliffe’s death may have prompted Mary Ann Radcliffe to take up the mantle of the Great Enchantress’. [44] Most bizarrely, Norton speculates that the very persons of the two Radcliffe were likely confused. He recounts an incident described in Mary Russell Mitford’s correspondence, which depicts her father claiming to have seen Ann Radcliffe in 1811 at the business address of Mitford’s publisher. Mitford (misinformed herself) informs her father that Radcliffe died in 1809, and Norton suggests that as there would be little reason for the still living Ann Radcliffe to visit Valpy’s business the Radcliffe spotted by Mitford’s father was ‘more likely’ a sighting of ‘the other Mrs Radcliffe, Mary Ann Radcliffe of the Wollstonecraft school’. [45] There was likely no Radcliffe spotted at all, but Norton’s account of the physical confusion of these two Radcliffes reinforces the persistence of doppelgängers within our histories of Radcliffe’s authorship and the Minerva Press.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentRomantic authors such as William Wordsworth and even Charlotte Smith worked tirelessly with publishers in creating the editions that built their posthumous reputations and positioned them within a national canon. By contrast, Ann Radcliffe’s name and brand were more manipulatable, if judged by the anonymous Minerva novels later associated with her and Mary Ann Radcliffe. While it is tempting to read such novels as enemies of the singular and authentic Ann Radcliffe, lesser beings that damage or distort her legacy, they are—for better or worse—a part of the story of her survival. William Lane, A. K. Newman, and the publishers and critics who followed them shaped a corporate Radcliffe that both led to the alignment of Ann Radcliffe with what we might think of as the anti-canonical novels of the Minerva Press, the translations and imitations for which Minerva and, in part, Radcliffe came to stand. It also created a corporate Radcliffe as an alternative to the high and canonical Romantic author of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, contributing to the development of what Walter Scott dismissively described and later critics derided as ‘the Radcliffe school’. [46] As Felski argues, ‘art works can only survive and thrive by making friends, creating allies, attracting disciples’. [47] Certainly, by including Ann Radcliffe’s novels among the constellation of gothic texts for which the Minerva Press has come to stand, Jane Austen has acted as an ally—‘the horrid novels’ of Northanger Abbey being just one example of Minerva novels kept alive by their association not only with Austen but also with Ann Radcliffe. The additional affinities between Radcliffe and Minerva novels created by Lane and Newman in catalogues and later in feminist and gothic scholarship also ally Radcliffe with Romantic translation and the extranational history of the novel of which the Minerva Press is certainly a part. Embracing the corporate Radcliffe introduces us to a Romantic-era author that assembles itself overtime and, most excitingly, continues to change and grow. The corporate Radcliffe privileges the textual affinities and associations created by publishers and scholars as rich transtemporal and living networks that exceed individual authors, their nations and their historical contexts, making possible new frameworks for understanding texts, their survival and the construction of literary history.


1. Although Radcliffe never wrote a novel for the Minerva Press, A. K. Newman did reprint some of her novels long after their initial publication. Alison Milbank notes that the Minerva Press issued an edition of A Sicilian Romance in 1820, thirty years after it first appeared anonymously with Hookham & Carpenter in 1790—see ‘Note on the Text’, in Ann Radcliffe, A Sicilian Romance, ed. by Alison Millbank (Oxford: OUP, 1993), p. xxx.

2. Manfroné; or, the One-Handed Monk. A Romance was also attributed to Mary Ann Radcliffe, and, although it was originally published by J. F. Hughes in 1809, it was reprinted by the Minerva Press under A. K. Newman’s direction in 1819. Mary Ann Radcliffe’s assumed authorship of Manfroné is often cited as the reason for Dorothy Blakey’s assignation of Velina de Guidova and Radzivil to her in the early twentieth century. I have not directly treated it in this essay because it did not originate with the Minerva Press, and it was Hughes rather than Newman who originally marketed it as by Mary Ann Radcliffe—an attribution that Dale Townshend has recently challenged, in ‘On the Authorship of Manfroné’, in Manfroné, or the One-Handed Monk (1809; Kansas City, MO: Valancourt Press, 2007), pp. 265–96. See also the entry on Manfroné in British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception <> [accessed 7 Apr 2020].

3. A Minerva catalogue from 1798 first lists The Fate of Velina de Guidova as by Mrs Radcliffe—see Peter Garside, with Jacqueline Belanger, Anthony Mandal and Sharon Ragaz, ‘The English Novel, 1800–1829: Update 4 (June 2003–August 2003)’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, 12 (Summer 2004) <> [accessed 11 May 2018].

4. See Manfroné, ed. by Townshend, pp. 265–96.

5. ‘Mary Ann Radcliffe’, in Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginning to the Present < id=radcma> [accessed 15 Mar 2018].

6. Michael Gamer, Romanticism, Self-Canonization, and the Business of Poetry (Cambridge: CUP, 2017), p. 2.

7. Ibid., pp. 1–2.

8. Elizabeth A. Neiman, ‘A New Perspective on the Minerva Press’s “Derivative” Novels: Authorizing Borrowed Material’, ERR, 26 (2015), 633–58 (p. 634) <>.

9. Melissa Sodeman, Sentimental Memorials: Women and the Novel in Literary History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014), p. 13.

10. Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), pp. 183–84.

11. Qtd in Rictor Norton, Mistress of Udolpho: A Life of Ann Radcliffe (London: Leicester University Press, 1999), p. 73.

12. See Jennie Batchelor, Women’s Work: Labour, Gender, Authorship, 1750–1830 (Manchester: MUP, 2010) for an insightful discussion of Mary Ann Radcliffe’s contribution to understanding gender and economics in the Romantic period.

13. Deborah Anne McLeod, ‘The Minerva Press’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Alberta, 1997), pp. 7–9. Although McLeod links What Has Been to the writer Eliza Kirkam Mathews (1772–1802), this attribution has been questioned by recent scholars. See also Neiman, ‘New Perspective’, passim, for a complete discussion of Minerva authorship in relation to these novels.

14. Andrew Piper, Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009), p. 6.

15. Radzivil. A Romance. Translated from the Russ of the Celebrated M. Wocklow, 3 vols (London: Lane, 1790), I, i. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the main body of the essay.

16. Mary Helen McMurran, The Spread of Novels: Translation and Prose Fiction in the Eighteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), p. 7.

17. Ibid., p. 15.

18. Ibid., p. 22.

19. Srivinas Aravamudan, Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), pp. 74–75.

20. See Jan Fergus, Provincial Readers in Eighteenth-Century England (New York: OUP, 2007); and McLeod, ‘Minerva Press’, passim.

21. Angela Wright, Britain, France and the Gothic, 1764–1820: The Import of Terror (New York: CUP, 2013), p. 90.

22. The Fate of Velina de Guidova, 3 vols (London: Lane, 1790), III, 139. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the main body of the essay.

23. James Raven, ‘Cheap and Cheerless: English Novels in German Translation and German Novels in English Translation, 1700–1799’, in The Corvey Library and Anglo-German Cultural Exchanges, 1770–1837, ed. by Werner Huber (Munich: Fink, 2004), pp. 1–34, (p. 10).

24. Ibid., p. 18.

25. Syndy McMillen Conger, ‘The Sorrows of Young Charlotte: Werther’s English Sisters, 1785–1805’, Goethe Yearbook, 3 (1986), 21–56 (p. 27) <>.

26. Ibid., p. 49.

27. Piper, Dreaming in Books, p. 25.

28. Edward Jacobs, ‘Ann Radcliffe and Romantic Print Culture’, in Ann Radcliffe, Romanticism and the Gothic, ed. by Dale Townshend and Angela Wright (New York: CUP, 2014), pp. 49–66 (pp. 51–52).

29. Qtd in Ashley Marshall, ‘Fabricating Defoes: From Anonymous Hack to Master of Fictions’, Eighteenth-Century Life, 36.2 (2012), 1–35 (p. 21) <>.

30. Ibid., p. 21.

31. Evidence of Ann Radcliffe’s business acumen can be glimpsed in her move from the circulating library publisher Thomas Hookham early in her career to established and prominent booksellers such as George Robinson and Cadell & Davies. Each move yielded more money for her increasingly valuable copyrights. Despite this, Radcliffe seemed to exert very little control over her name and reputation and its circulation within Romantic print culture. See JoEllen DeLucia, ‘Radcliffe, George Robinson, and Eighteenth-Century Print Culture: Beyond the Circulating Library’, Women’s Writing, 22.3 (2015), 287–99 <>.

32. McLeod, ‘Minerva Press’, p. 24.

33. See Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, 1790–1820 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1939), p. 123: H. Caritat, the New York agent for the Minerva in 1802, had a circulating library in which a great many Minerva books were included; and in 1808, although literature was said to be little cultivated in the island of Jamaica, there was a circulating library at Kingston, and in one or two other towns. There seems to have been a library in Bombay, to which Lane’s novels had penetrated before 1806.

34. Donald K. Adams, ‘The Second Mrs Radcliffe’, Mystery & Detection Annual, 1 (1972), 48–64 (p. 56).

35. Ibid., p. 56.

36. Ibid., p. 57.

37. Blakey, Minerva Press, p. 150.

38. Ibid., p. 151.

39. Brown, Clements and Grundy, ‘Mary Ann Radcliffe’, n.p.

40. Mary Ann Radcliffe’s name also appears on the title page of a periodical entitled Radclife’s [sic] New Novelist’s Pocket Magazine, which was published in 1802 and includes a gothic chapbook entitled The Secret Oath; however, her detailed memoir does not mention the publication of this periodical, Radzivil, Velina or Manfroné.

41. Mary Ann Radcliffe, The Memoirs of Mrs Mary Ann Radcliffe; in Familiar Letters to her Female Friend (Edinburgh: for the Author, 1810), p. 67. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the main body of the essay.

42. Norton, Mistress of Udolpho, p. 215.

43. Qtd in ibid., p. 215.

44. Ibid., p. 214.

45. Ibid.

46. Walter Scott, ‘Maturin’s Fatal Revenge’, in The Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., 30 vols (Edinburgh: Cadell and Black; London: Whittaker, 1834–82), XVIII, 157–72 (p. 168).

47. Felski, Limits of Critique, p. 165.

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