Lisa M. Wilson »

Lisa M. Wilson is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Communication at the State University of New York College at Potsdam. Her research focuses on issues of authorship, gender, and print culture in the British Romantic period and she has published on Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis, Charlotte Dacre, and Mary Robinson. She is currently working on a book manuscript, Marketing Authorship in an ‘Age of Personality’, 1780–1850. This article forms part of her new study on Romantic-period satirical novels, which began as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar directed by Stephen Behrendt at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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This article is copyright © 2007 Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, and is the result of the independent labour of the scholar or scholars credited with authorship. The material contained in this document may be freely distributed, as long as the origin of information used has been properly credited in the appropriate manner (e.g. through bibliographic citation, etc.).

Referring to this Article

L. M. WILSON. ‘British Women Writing Satirical Novels in the Romantic Period:  Gendering Authorship and Narrative Voice’, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 17 (Summer 2007).

Online: Internet (date accessed):

British Women Writing Satirical Works in the Romantic Period

Gendering Authorship and Narrative Voice

Abstract Tags

While eighteenth-century definitions of satire portray it is as a masculine discourse, a survey of Romantic-period titles shows that women writers wrote narrative satire in numbers nearly equal to those of male satirical novel­ists. [1] As Audrey Bilger argues in her introduction to Jane Collier’s An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting (1753), ‘[t]he novel provided one safe venue for women’s satirical observations as a genre that could contain subversive elements that would be more exposed in a free-standing satire’. [2] For women writing novels in the Romantic period, it seems equally the case that the novel provided a ‘safe venue’ for ‘satirical observation’, although we should remember that such observations were not always ‘subversive’ of political—or even of literary—norms. While some satirical novelists expressed radical political opinions, many more used satire to criticise such views and uphold mainstream, moderately conservative Tory/loyalist values. Furthermore, the numbers of women writing satirical novels in the period suggest that the narrative form became one place in which overt satire, whether liberal or conservative, was accepted and even expected of women writers.

Certainly satire’s roots in classical forms and in poetic tradition suggest that it was still seen as a largely male province in the Romantic period. As Gary Dyer argues, literary–historical evidence suggests that ‘both men and women traditionally have seen satire, more than other genres, as distinctly masculine’. [3] He points out that some male writers of the time believed that even reading translations of classical satire constituted ‘improper study’ for young women. Others argued that women were or should be excluded from the political–public arenas that were the major source of satirical writing, or they argued that women had too much sensibility (or too little reasoning capacity) to display the opinionated ‘illiberality’ needed to write satire. Dyer goes on to say:

We should not be surprised that women authors observed when they composed satire that they felt they were straying from their proper sphere. For one thing, being ‘satirical’ was considered unfeminine: in conversation, ridiculing others was thought to render a young woman unattractive. [4]

In terms of the gendering of genres, Dyer’s historical examples certainly render an accurate picture of one strain of the prevailing discourse surrounding satire as it applied to young women’s education and conversation. They also clearly show cultural attitudes toward formal verse satire. They do not so accurately reflect the practice of a wider range of Romantic period writers, however, particularly that of novelists rather than the poets on whom Dyer’s work concentrates. [5] While it is true that few women wrote satirical poetry throughout this period, the number of women writing satirical novels suggest that satire’s ‘unfeminine’ reputation did not particularly discourage women authors from writing it.

Several issues complicate our understanding of satire’s role in gender and genre debates during the Romantic period. Conduct-book-style rules, aimed at shaping young women’s manners and conversation, were not necessarily the standards to which professional writers were held, even women writers. In this point, I disagree with Audrey Bilger in Laughing Feminisms: Subversive Comedy in Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen (1998), as well as with Dyer. Bilger cites eighteenth-century conduct book writers Fordyce, Gregory, and Gisborne to illustrate her point that satire was frowned upon for women writers, although she also points out that the three authors she discusses indulge in private satire in their letters and in what she calls ‘closeted’ satirical writing in public. [6] While Bilger convincingly illustrates that Burney, Edgeworth, and Austen effectually manipulated period distinctions between ‘sentimental comedy’ and more overt forms of satire in order to authorise their own writing, I argue that women’s narrative satire seemed less ‘subversive’ to contemporaries and was less ‘closeted’ and indirect than we have previously thought.

A number of women writers explicitly defended their use of satirical strategies, and, when satire shaded over into personal ridicule (as it frequently did), even male authors might be condemned as ‘illiberal’—a period term frequently associated with improper or unjustified uses by both sexes of satire. In fact, we should not be particularly surprised to learn that reviewers of the period seem to have been as likely to praise or to condemn a satirical novel based on their opinion of the author’s politics as of the author’s gender. Examples of women writing explicitly satirical novels range from the moderate, archly comic social satirist ‘Mrs Martin’ to the prolific and wide-ranging conservative satirist Sarah Green (author of the literary satires Romance Readers and Romance Writers , 1810, and Scotch Novel Reading , 1823) to Mary Robinson who wrote on the liberal–Jacobin side in the Revolutionary political debates of the 1790s. Despite their political and even literary differences, all three authors shared some strategies common to women writing satirical novels in the Romantic period: they self-consciously manipulated gendered conventions regarding authorship, they adopted explicitly satirical narrative personae, and their narrators appeal directly to their (usually female) readers in order to achieve their satiric aims.

Defining Romantic Period Satire and Satirists
In the Romantic period, the term ‘satire’ was loosely applied to a range of narrative literary practices from entire novels explicitly labelled as satirical in their subtitles to individual scenes of satire and parody grafted onto other kinds of novelistic plot lines. A search of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novel titles suggests that works explicitly subtitled ‘a satirical novel’ were most prevalent between 1800 and 1830, although some eighteenth-century narrative satires were identified as ‘a satirical [or satirical] tale’ or ‘fable’ (see note 1). Women authors appear to have been no less likely to have published titles explicitly labelled satirical than were their male counterparts Lindamira; or, an Old Maid in Search of a Husband (1810) by ‘Caroline Burney’ is subtitled A Satirical Novel; [7] the anonymous (and probably female) author of Uncle Tweazy and his Quizzical Neighbors subtitles hers A Comi-Satiric Novel (1816). Even larger numbers of novelists of both sexes follow a pattern of including satirical scenes in novels with sentimental main plots. An example of this type of novel, as Janice Farrar Thaddeus points out, is Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), which combines its main plot, the ‘sentimental story of the tragic destruction of the heroine Julia Delmond’, with a clever parody of William Godwin’s radical political philosophy and Mary Hays’s Wollstonecraftian novels. [8] Elizabeth Inchbald’s Nature and Art (1796) and Mary Robinson’s Walsingham; or the Pupil of Nature (1797) follow a somewhat similar narrative pattern in order to make quite a different political point—both Inchbald and Robinson were classed as ‘Jacobin’ novelists, while Hamilton’s politics are loyalist and anti-radical. We find male and female novelists writing in approximately equal numbers and across the political spectrum, in both of these satirical novel styles.

As we have seen, satire’s cultural definition as a masculine discourse did not prevent women from writing it, although it may have discouraged some. However, it did lead women writers to adopt various authorial and narrative strategies in order to circumvent, to challenge, or otherwise to shape those gendered genre conventions. Many satirical novels were published anonymously or pseudonymously, a convention that continued well into the 1830s. Of the novels written between 1790 and 1830 that can be identified as satirical, at least a third were originally published anonymously; in some of those cases, prefaces or dedications give us clues to the gender, if not the name, of the author. For example, the anonymous author of The Observant Pedestrian; or, Traits of the Heart (1795) gives her readers a clue about her gender in the introduction to her sequel, Farther Excursions of the Observant Pedestrian (1801). In it, she notes that reviewers assumed her previous book was a man’s work, and she gleefully surmises that the reviewers will ‘be surprised to learn, that [this book’s equally satirical] subject is the sole effusion of a female pen’. [9] As Kathryn Dawes points out, decisions to publish anonymously were not always made by authors themselves: publishers as well as authors might decide to omit author’s names from title pages. Publishers might choose anonymity or pseudonymity in order to afford themselves a degree of protection from state libel suits as well as to shield their authors, especially since publishers, printers, and booksellers were held legally responsible for libellous products as frequently as (if not more frequently) than the authors themselves.

In such cases of anonymous authorship, readers and reviewers (including present-day critics) cannot determine the gender of the authors, although they frequently assume that satirical writers were men. It is true that most of the pseudonyms used by novel writers during this period are fancifully parodic men’s names, pseudonyms such as John Agg’s ‘Humphrey Hedgehog’, Edward Dubois’s ‘Count Reginald de St Leon’, Eaton Stannard Barrett’s ‘Cervantes Hogg’, and ‘Peregrine Puzzlebrain’, fictional editor of the Scottian parody Tales of my Landlady (1818). While anonymous and pseudonymous publication sometimes (perhaps inadvertently) drew reviewers’ attention to the question of authors’ genders, anonymous female authors of satirical novels could mostly depend on reviewers to read their authorial identities as male, even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. William Taylor, reviewing Sarah Green’s anonymously published political novel The Reformist!!! (1810) in the Monthly Review , goes so far as to claim not to believe Green’s prefatory statement that she is a woman. He cannot believe ‘that the experience of a lady could have furnished all the scenes which are […] delineated’ and claims that he does not want to ‘attribute to a female pen the great illiberality which occasionally displays itself’ in the novel. [10] Taylor presents himself as refusing to believe, out of an exaggerated sense of chivalry that ‘a lady’ could write with ‘great illiberality’. At the same time, his comment indirectly reminds his readers that it is unladylike (not just unwomanly) to write satire. Comments like Taylor’s reveal the extent to which authors of satirical novels were assumed to be male; they also show us the ways in which reviewers took the opportunity to chastise women who wrote satirical novels, even those who wrote under the cover of anonymity. Such critical comments also point to the importance of considering the role that authorship plays in the development of narrative satire during the Romantic period. While critics and reviewers of the period conventionally emphasised the importance of objects of satire, [11] I would argue that an author’s self-presentation and narrative stance are an equally important part of the narrative transaction between author and reader that takes place through the satirical object.

Mrs Martin: Gendering Narrative Voice in the Comic Novel
The case of the 1801 novel The Enchantress; or Where Shall I Find Her? illustrates one way in which women authors reacted to the satirical novel reader’s gendered expectations. Published anonymously, the novel is attributed to a ‘Mrs Martin’, a Minerva Press author about whom little is known. [12] A lightly comic social satire, the one-volume novel features an eccentric hero’s search for the perfect woman by placing a newspaper advertisement for a wife. A self-proclaimed ‘humourist’, the novel’s protagonist comes in for his share of satirical commentary when his sentimental expectations lead him to read himself as the hero of a novel. A male forerunner of Austen’s Catherine Morland, Martin’s hero has both the chivalric idealism of a Don Quixote and the crochety eccentricity of Smollett’s Matthew Bramble. For example, when the hero, Sir Philip, meets a young woman he thinks has answered his advertisement, the narrator notes that the hero ‘read oppressed innocence in the countenance of the young [lady], and malicious oppression in that of the elder lady’. [13] Sir Philip thinks that the young lady’s chaperon ‘was the image of a spiteful stepmother.—Had not fairies been out of date, he could have thought her a wicked fairy’ (I, 16). The narrator quickly notes that, in believing the girl to be the persecuted heroine of a fairy tale, Sir Philip ‘was wrong’. The girl is unhappy, but not for the reasons Sir Philip deduces. This scene shows the hero’s tendency to interpret events using fairy-tale standards—even while he himself acknowledges that such principles are ‘out of date’. By portraying Sir Philip as a self-ironising romantic, Martin endows him with a touch of comic realism and retains her readers’ sympathies for him, at the same time his character is the object of her satire.

Martin also chooses to use a narrative voice that clearly is male, and just as clearly is aimed at a female readership whom she satirises and with whom ‘he’ even flirts. While her choice of a male narrator seems conventional, her choice of a female readership for her narrator is not. After a brief digression criticising ‘philosophers who employ much time, ink, paper, and speculation, in defining the mode by which the mind is influenced’, which opens a new chapter, the male narrator speaks directly to his readers:

You are impatient, Madam: your expressive eyes exclaim—But what’s all this to Jessy [one of the novel’s heroines]? […] You are right, Madam. I have indeed wandered from my subject; and when once a man ventures into the fields of digression, it requires some magnet as powerful as your eyes to call him back again. (pp. 105, 107–08)

By flirting with his readers, Martin’s male narrator portrays his lady readers as impatient with such discussions of philosophy and eager to hear more about the sentimental heroine. Somewhat unexpectedly, instead of criticising his female readers’ low tastes, Martin’s narrator admits they are ‘right’. The male narrator admits that such masculine digressions do not belong in a novel. In this way, he also implicitly pokes fun at himself as narrator/writer as well as at men’s supposed tendency to lapse into pointless philosophical speculation—the female reader’s implied point of view is the one validated by the narrator.

In other scenes, Martin’s male narrator explicitly speaks for his female readers as well as for himself. He ventriloquises the questions he imagines his readers would ask—and then he answers himself. For example, the narrator asks, ‘ “And did Sir Philip really surrender his heart to a well-toned voice?” ’, enclosing the reader’s supposed question in quotation marks. Then the narrator answers:

No, dear lady, he did not; his heart had formed to itself an idea of feminine graces, among which this silver voice now made itself heard. I am sure you are not yourself insensible to the charm of melting accents, or the liquid melody of soothing sounds. (p. 129)

Because the protagonist of the novel is at once romantic hero and object of satire, such commentaries on ‘men’s nature’ occur throughout the novel. The effect is to portray the narrator as a ‘man’s man’, but one who is willing to spill the secrets of his sex to members of the opposite sex like a female gossip. In one respect, Martin’s choice to cast her narrator as male fits with the prevailing cultural assumptions that satirical novels are written by men. In this case, however, the presence of the male narrator actually complicates the questions of just who and what are being satirised. By developing the relationship between the male narrator and his lady-readers, Martin’s narrator satirises and sympathises with both the hero’s and the reader’s sentimental expectations.

Sarah Green, Satirical Novelist
One of the most prolific women writers of satirical novels in the early nineteenth century was Sarah Green, who wrote both anonymously and pseudonymously (as ‘A Cockney’). While we still know little about her personal identity, her writing shows her to be an unapologetic satirist. Between 1808 and 1825, she wrote at least sixteen novels, including some historical Gothics as well as seven explicitly satirical novels. [14] Although she initially published many of her satirical novels anonymously, she did not hide her gender from her readers, and she acknowledged later editions of these works with ‘Mrs Green’ on the title page.

Green’s first satirical novel appears to have been the anonymously published The Private History of the Court of England , an 1808 political–social satire in the ‘secret history’ or satirical roman-à-clef mode. Framed as a historical novel of the fifteenth century, Green’s Private History is a very thinly veiled satire on the Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent and George IV). Green’s ‘Preface’ makes her satirical intent clear by pointing out parallels between characters in her narrative and the rulers of the present day. She writes:

The silly illiterate stripling, hastily emancipated from the tuition of monkish ignorance of the fifteenth century, is, in this age of improvements, the half-learned, half-travelled, trifling coxcomb of rank and fortune; a compound of frivolity and presumption, a smatterer of languages, a connoisseur of pictures, operas, and women! [15]

As one contemporary reviewer described it, ‘ The Private History of the Court of England is an ingenious satire, which, while it professes to give the private history of the court of Edward IV, in reality presents us with that of the present’. [16] Reviewers’ reactions to this book suggest the widely divergent attitudes toward satirical novel writing in this period: while this reviewer from Flowers of Literature praises the work as ‘ingenious’, both the Critical and Monthly roundly condemned it.

These last two reviewers clearly object to ‘private history’ satires as a class. The Critical compares Private History to ‘the Atalantis and Utopia of the 17th century’ and waxes nostalgic for an earlier day when such works might be censored before they are published—presumably before 1695, when the Licensing Act expired, closing down legal options for pre-publication censorship. [17] The Monthly reviewer classes the novel with other recent works that, he argues, reveal a

mischievous taste for libels on individuals, which has for a long time prevailed; gratifying at once the too general love of indiscriminate detraction, and the vulgar thirst after fashionable anecdote, by the mixture of a small portion of truth with a great share of falsehood and malignity. [18]

By placing the Private History in the context of the scandal-mongering secret history, these reviewers condemn it as belonging to what they considered to be the very lowest form of satire: the personal (and potentially libellous) attack. [19] Without a name or even a gender attached to the novel, these reviewers do no more than dismiss the novel as a poorly written example of a regrettable genre. For us, as perhaps for Romantic period readers, such reminders of the long history of the satirical roman à clef should bring to mind Delarivier Manley’s New Atalantis (1709), as well as the seventeenth-century original, and remind us that secret histories, like the French chroniques scandaleuses , were a type of narrative satire that was peculiarly associated (albeit negatively) with the gossiping style of women writers such as Manley, Aphra Behn, and Eliza Haywood. [20]

In Green’s best-known work, Romance Readers and Romance Writers: A Satirical Novel , her name does not appear on the title page: the novel first appears in 1810 as ‘by the Author of a Private History of the Court of England, etc.’. However, she signs her lengthy ‘Literary Retrospection’ S. G**** and concludes her preface by ‘outing’ her gender. Responding directly to critics of her previous work, she writes:

The title-page of this work informs the public that they are to expect a Satirical Novel! And, in spite of the London satirists’ invectives […] the following volumes are avowed to be written by the author of ‘THE PRIVATE HISTORY OF THE COURT OF ENGLAND!’ Various conjectures having arisen as to the writer of that work, the Author, who has reasons for yet concealing her name, will affix the REAL initials of that name to this advertisement. Her merits, as a writer, are small; the mercy, the forbearance of a British Public, ample; to such she looks up for support and protection: and she thanks the Satirist , who, while he pointed our her errors with severity , yet declared that the person who penned one certain chapter in the HISTORY OF THE COURT OF ENGLAND, ‘had talents for writing a work that might defy criticism ’! [21]

Instead of hiding behind her anonymity, Green seems to glory in ‘avowing’ authorship of the Private History and in defending her satirical practice. Her lengthy prefatory comments take the form of a scathing review of what she sees as the worst trends of modern novel writing. In it, she condemns several authors by name, including popular Gothic and historical novelists T. J. Horseley-Curties, M. G. Lewis, Francis Lathom, and ‘Rosa Matilda’ [Charlotte Dacre], a move that suggests she is unconcerned about libel suits from fellow authors at the very least. Significantly, very few works explicitly labelled ‘a satirical novel’ were signed, whether they were written by men or women. Green’s choice to acknowledge authorship, even in this oblique manner, marks her as unusual among female satirical novelists.

The novel itself, like many of the satirical novels of the period, takes aim at a variety of mostly literary targets. [22] Unlike Austen in Northanger Abbey , Green seems more interested in satirising romance writers than romance readers, although the novel does feature a romance-reading heroine in the character of Peggy. Green’s heroine (who renames herself the more romantic-sounding Margaritta) does not make a happy match like Catherine Morland’s, however. By the end of the novel, ‘Margaritta’ has been seduced and abandoned and is carrying an illegitimate child—a situation that comically reifies the moralists’ claims that too much romance reading leads directly to sexual immorality.

The opening volume of the work parodies and critiques novel writing, especially historical romances and novels of passion. As do many Anti-Jacobin novelists, Green also criticises Mary Wollstonecraft by name and explicitly condemns ‘Jacobin’ atheistic philosophy as immoral. Green also parodies the methods of French ‘secret histories’ by employing tongue-in-cheek footnotes in her own novel. For example, when one of the fictional characters contradicts a newspaper report about the adulterous Lady Egmont, she notes that the character’s claim is ‘historique’—that is, that the gossip retailed by her fictional character is historical fact. [23] The novel’s speaker claims to know the truth: that Lady Egmont ‘actually went off with her infatuated lover to an island which has the peculiar privilege of harbouring crim. con. [criminal conversation; i.e., adulterous] associates, insolvent debtors, and all the other et-ceteras , intitled—indiscretions!’ (I, 7). The speaker’s brother comments that the Lady Egmont story would undoubtedly be taken up by a corrupt novelist as the basis for a new secret history or novel of passion:

I doubt not […] but that this affair will furnish a foundation for the story of some free -minded novel-writer, or, as the new school calls it, liberal -minded! And we shall have it some day brought forward, so clouded with romantic incidents, that no one will guess who it means; and have for its title, perhaps, ‘THE FATAL ATTACHMENT, OR LOVE TRIUMPHANT OVER DUTY!’ (I, 8).

Here, Green’s narrator pokes fun at ‘free-minded’ hack writers who would capitalise on the tragic break up of a titled family; she also hints that such writers of novels of passion might be followers of radical Jacobin political philosophies. In doing so, she presents herself as morally above such literary hackwork.

Readers are free to doubt whether or not her narrator’s dismissive attitude toward the secret history novel is ‘straight’ or satirical, since Green herself repeatedly advertised herself as writing just such a novel, The Private History of the Court of England , and she continued to promote herself as a satirist. Even her non-satirical titles, such as Tales of the Manor (1809) and The Festival of St Jago (1810), were advertised as ‘by the author of The Private History of the Court of England ’; later titles, including The Fugitive; or Family Incidents (1814) were advertised as ‘by Mrs Green, author of Private History of the Court of England, Romance Readers and Romance Writers, &c., &c.

As she had done in the Private History , in her preface to Percival Ellingford; or the Reformist!!! (2nd edn, 1816), Green makes seemingly modest gestures that indirectly serve to defend her own satirical practices. A political novel satirising social reformers, Percival Ellingford was originally titled The Reformist!!! A Serio-Comic Political Novel (1st edn, 1810). She assures her readers:

Slight, very slight are the allusions to Quixotic politicians, in the following pages—I have honestly confessed, politics are not my forté . My errors, I acknowledge, are many; my intention is only to amuse; at the same time, to instruct would afford me pleasure; and as I have ever observed a veneration for true morality, I again cast myself on the indulgence of an enlightened and candid Public. [24]

This preface is once again signed S. G ****, as she had done in her previous novels. By ‘honestly confessing’ that ‘politics are not [her] forté ’, Green seems to be acknowledging the cultural truism that women writers are not well-equipped to write political satire. At the same time, readers must be suspicious of her claims ‘only to amuse’. After all, if that was her only intent, she might have written a novel completely unrelated to contemporary events. Her claim to ‘venerat[e] true morality’ clearly marks her authorial stance as that of the social satirist who ‘scourges Vice’ by speaking from moral high ground. However, instead of utterly disavowing the techniques of the secret history writer, she tantalises readers with the hint that ‘slight, very slight are the allusions’ to real politicians in the novel, a comment that alerts her readers to look for these clues to the identities of real politicians in order to decipher her satire. Green’s strategies thus illustrate some of the contradictory methods women novelists developed in order to insert themselves into discourses of satire; her career also illustrates the challenges inherent in uncovering the work of such anonymous and pseudonymous satirists, male and female.

Satire and Sentiment in Mary Robinson’s Late Novels
Mary Robinson is more often thought of as an object of satire rather than as the author of it. Robinson, as a former actress and the first mistress of the Prince of Wales, later George IV, had unusually wide experience of the uses and abuses of satire; she was the target of Tory visual and verbal invective from the time of her association with the Prince in 1780, through her liaison with Whig MP Banastre Tarleton, to her friendship with radical intellectuals like William Godwin in the late 1790s. Robinson herself wrote poetic as well as narrative satire, writing under the classicist male pseudonym ‘Horace Juvenal’ as well as under ‘Tabitha Bramble’, a name taken from the garrulous female character in Smollett’s Humphrey Clinker . Despite their satirical content, however, her late novels were all written under her own name, usually ‘Mrs Robinson’. Although we might read Robinson’s use of her well-known name as a move designed to capitalise on her celebrity, her choice to write her satirical novels under her own name instead of under a pseudonym must class her as unapologetic a satirist as Sarah Green. Robinson’s final three novels— Walsingham: Or, the Pupil of Nature, A Domestic Story (1797), The False Friend: A Domestic Story (1799), and The Natural Daughter; With Portraits of the Leadenhead Family: A Novel (1799)—all contain elements of social and political satire, although they are not explicitly labelled as satires. Walsingham , for example, contains passages satirising female gamesters as well as poking fun at literary reviewers—and all were read by her contemporaries as, at least in part, romans à clef . Although contemporary critics have emphasised Robinson’s connections to the literary circle surrounding William Godwin, Robinson’s later novels go beyond the confines of the ‘Jacobin novelist’ label to critique the effects of the literary marketplace on women writers. [25]

In The Natural Daughter , her final novel, Robinson constructs her social and literary satire around a sentimental novel plot line, one that features an unjustly accused heroine persecuted by vulgar relatives, immoral aristocratic seducers, and a hypocritical husband. Martha Bradford, later Mrs Morley, becomes a social outcast when she adopts an orphan whom everyone thinks must be her own ‘natural daughter’ (illegitimate child). Abandoned by her family and her husband, Mrs Morley attempts to support herself by working as a paid companion, a provincial actress, and later, as a novelist.

Robinson points out the venality of publishers when Mrs Morley is forced to sell the copyright to her novel for a mere ten pounds. Mrs Morley’s publisher, Mr Index, has assured her that works like hers, sentimental novels with realistic characters ‘had become a drug, only palatable to splenetic valetudinarians and boarding-school misses’. [26] When she is accidentally given a copy of her novel in its sixth edition, Mrs Morley discovers that her work, far from being a ‘drug’ on the market, has sold extremely well. Instead of enriching its impoverished author, however, the novel has been reaping profits for its unscrupulous publisher without her knowledge (p. 242). Robinson uses satire to expose venal publishers who would take advantage of naïve authors like Mrs Morley.

In a further comment on the literary marketplace, Robinson goes on to treat ironically the kind of novel that Mr Index wants Mrs Morley to write instead—a nearly libellous satirical secret history. Mr Index advises the heroine that, if she wants to ‘bathe in the luxurious sea of satirical celebrity’, then she should write with ‘a lancet’ instead of a ‘mere pen’ (p. 209). He tells her:

If you have any talent for satire, you may write a work that would be worth purchasing: or if your fertile pen can make a story out of some recent popular event, such as an highly-fashioned elopement, a deserted, distracted husband, an abandoned wife, an ungrateful runaway daughter, or a son ruined by sharpers; with such a title as ‘Noble Daring; or, the Disinterested Lovers;’ […] ‘Passion in Leading-Strings; or, Love’s Captive;’ ‘Modern Wives and Antique Spouses;’ ‘Old Dowagers and Schoolboy Lovers,’ or any thing from real life of equal celebrity or notoriety, your fortune is made; your works will sell, and you will either be admired or feared by the whole phalanx of fashionable readers; particularly if you have the good luck to be menaced with a prosecution.

In this passage, Robinson satirises the popular taste for just the kind of novel that she is often accused of writing: the tell-all satire that ridicules her acquaintances and capitalises on the reading public’s prurient interest in the private lives of the celebrated and aristocratic. At the same time, she suggests that the reading public may have better taste than publishers think; after all, Mrs Morley’s unsensational novel sells well, despite Mr Index’s dire predictions. Mr Index’s comments also suggest that writing satire was an established way for authors to become celebrated (or notorious) themselves—although Robinson herself may have thought of satirical authorship as more lucrative than celebrated.

Critical response to The Natural Daughter was largely negative, due in large part to the perception that it reflected its author’s radical politics rather than to its satirical form, however. We might expect that reviewers would have responded more positively to the sentimental plot line of the heroine. However, the most positive review, that of The Monthly Review, actually emphasised the satirical qualities of the novel, perhaps because of Robinson’s celebrity and her established reputation as a writer of satire in the late 1790s. The reviewer writes: ‘Fancy has been little restrained in the composition of this novel, and the satirical talent of the writer has not lain dormant’. [27] Although Robinson also wrote sentimental verse and novels, this reviewer seems to recognise her for her ‘satirical talent’ as well as for her ‘fancy’, her feminine imagination. Ironically, the reviewer for the European Magazine actually encourages his readers to interpret the novel as a roman à clef , commenting that ‘[w]e must likewise inform the curious, that memoirs of herself, in some trying situations, are introduced into these volumes, under the fictitious character of Mrs Sedgley [Mrs Morley’s stage name]’. [28] Instead of discouraging readers from interpreting The Natural Daughter as a scandalous secret history, this reviewer seems to pander to his readers’ taste for sensationalism by providing a supposed key to the roman à clef . He claims that the heroine’s experiences as an actress parallel those of Mary Robinson herself. (In fact, there are a number of important differences between their situations, especially since Robinson’s character, Mrs Morley, is a little-known provincial actress, while Robinson herself played to acclaim at London’s Drury Lane.) Given Robinson’s identification in the public imagination as a celebrated courtesan in the 1780s, coupled with her later reputation as a satirist, reviewers seem to expect that this will be the type of novel she will write—and they will stretch their interpretation of her novel to make it fit their preconceived notions. Response to Robinson’s final novel illustrates the ways in which politics and personalities affect the reception of satirical novels as much as or more than their literary and generic characteristics.

We might assume that such responses to women’s satirical novels discouraged them from continuing to write in the roman-à-clef or secret-history satirical subgenre. While it is certainly true that we may be more familiar with noteworthy examples from the earlier eighteenth century such as Manley’s The New Atalantis or Haywood’s Adventures of Eovaai , even overtly literary satires from the Romantic period such as Lamb’s Glenarvon and Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey were read as secret histories. Given the increasing importance of literary celebrity in this period and the central role it played in Byron’s career in particular, such readings are unsurprising. And at least one writer, courtesan Harriette Wilson, wrote two comic novels in addition to her tell-all memoir in the early part of the nineteenth century. Wilson, facing financial difficulties later in her life, turned to writing as a source of income. Upon deciding to publish her memoirs, she apparently wrote letters to her many aristocratic and celebrated lovers, asking them for hush money to leave them out of the volume. The Duke of Wellington is supposed to have famously responded to her request: ‘Let her publish and be damned!’ In addition to her memoirs, Wilson also wrote two comic novels, including Paris Lions and London Tigers , a satire on Londoners abroad.

Paris Lions is prefaced by an ‘advertisement by the Editor’, noting that pre-publicity for the novel claimed it was a secret history: ‘no sooner had the following little volume, got wind, than all the world was on the qui vive , to learn what characters, it was to contain.’ [29] The ‘Editor’ comically portrays Wilson ‘tenderly sympathizing with her unhappy publisher [Stockdale]’ in his fears that he’ll be sued for libel, and therefore gallantly resolving to ‘[draw] on her imagination for her modern romance, of Paris Lions and Tigers’ to protect him. The editor implies that Wilson’s fashionable readers, instead of threatening to sue, are so eager to be identified with characters in her novel that they provide a key to the secret history themselves. The editor writes that an ‘anonymous correspondent, assisted as he says by many persons, no less comme il faut, than himself, avows that the list, hereto subjoined, is a true key to the characters of this romance’. Wilson’s publisher, ‘thinking the joke too good to be altogether lost’, agrees to the list’s publication—presumably because it reveals the absurdity of its writers’ thirst for celebrity (p. 1). In Wilson’s literary career, we see the lines continue to be blurred between legitimate narrative satire, the secret history, and the potentially libellous memoir.

In the range of satirical novels described and analyzed here, we have seen the ways that gender and genre interacted to shape both authors’ and reader/reviewers’ responses to this important sub-genre during the Romantic period. Understanding the range of satirical novels written by women provides us with a greatly enhanced understanding of the evolution of the novel in the period between the publication of Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818). It also provides us with a larger field in which to study how narrative techniques develop in relation to satirical ones. The wide range of artfully self-conscious narrative poses used by these novelists to establish their authority as satirists and shape their relationships with the readers further provides us with a fuller picture of the authorial practices of women writers in the period that also sees the consolidation of the figure of the male Romantic author.

1. I want to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities and Steve Behrendt, as well as my colleagues at Steve’s 2003 summer seminar for college teachers, ‘Rethinking British Romantic Fiction’ to whom this essay is indebted.
I have identified at least twenty-five satirical novels written by women in the period between 1790 and 1830—excluding ‘sentimental comedy’ titles by Burney, Edgeworth, and Austen. During the same period, around forty titles were published by male authors and at least twenty titles were published anonymously or pseudonymously by authors whom we’ve not yet identified. See the timelines provided in Appendices A and B.
I do not necessarily mean to suggest that greater numbers of satirical novels were written in the early part of the nineteenth century than in the eighteenth century. The tremendously useful database of British novels, British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception, allows one to search by full title and subtitle, and so enabled a fuller search of nineteenth-century titles than the eighteenth-century ones. (See P. D. Garside, J. E. Belanger, and S. A. Ragaz, British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database of Production, Circulation & Reception, designer A. A. Mandal, Online: Internet (14 June 2006) <>). However, I also consulted The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles, edited by Peter Garside, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerling, 2 vols (Oxford: OUP, 2000) and The English Language Literature of the 18th and 19th Centuries short-title catalogue of the Corvey collection (Wildberg: Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst, 1999) in my survey of the satirical novels of the Romantic period.

2. In Jane Collier, Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting, edited by Audrey Bilger (1753; Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2003), p. 32.

3. Gary Dyer, British Satire and the Politics of Style, 1789–1832 (Cambridge: CUP, 1997), p. 150.

4. Ibid., p. 151.

5. Dyer considers the work of female satirists Mary Robinson, Sarah Green, and Jane Austen in British Satire. Robinson provides his main example of a woman who wrote verse satire—he argues she ‘was practically alone in appropriating this classical form’ and describes her as ‘transgressing gender expectations’ in so doing (p. 150). He gives two literary examples to support his point that women authors themselves believed that writing satire was a transgressive act—one from Green’s The Reformist, the other from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. In both examples, fictional young female characters are chastised for using an inappropriately satirical style of conversation. I do not agree with Dyer that these fictional scenes about young women’s conversation necessarily represent the novelists’ views on the propriety of their own writerly practice.

6. Audrey Bilger, Laughing Feminisms: Subversive Comedy in Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), pp. 22–36.

7. Garside, et al. suggest that ‘Caroline Burney’ may be a pseudonym (English Novel, II, 318). The name ‘Lindamira’ may refer to earlier pseudonymous eighteenth-century adventure or scandal fictions such as the 1702 The Adventures of Lindamira, a Lady of Quality, Written by her Own Hand, to her Friend in the Country, in IV Parts, Revised and Corrected by Mr Thomas Brown, reprinted under this and other titles through at least 1758. 1723 also saw the pseudonymous publication of Royal Gallantry: Or, the Amours of a Certain K––g of a Certain Country, Who Kept his C–––t at a Certain Place, Much in the Same Latitude as That of W––stm–nst–r: Related to the Unhappy Adventures of Palmiris and Lindamira; in Which the Characters of Tersander and Caesarina, Are Vindicated from the Aspersions That Have Been or May Be Cast upon Them, and the Unfortunate Death of the Former Set in a True Light (authored by ‘Cato’ and printed for ‘A. Moor’).

8. See Janice Farrar Thaddeus, ‘Elizabeth Hamilton’s Modern Philosophers and the Uncertainties of Satire’, Cutting Edges: Postmodern Critical Essays on Eighteenth-Century Satire, edited by James E. Gill (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995), pp. 395–418.

9. Quoted in Kathryn L. Dawes, ‘Anonymity and the Pressures of Publication in the Early Nineteenth Century’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, 4 (May 2000). Online: Internet (1 June 2006): <>, § 7.

10. Quoted in Dyer, British Satire, pp. 150–51.

11. Abbott, in An Essay on the Use and Abuse of Satire (1786) follows the literary-critical conventions of the late eighteenth century in grouping satires by type of target: personal, political, moral, and critical (quoted in Dyer, British Satire, p. 19). However, most satirical novels take aim at two or more of these types of targets: for example, the kind of satire we find in Elizabeth Hamilton’s fictional Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800) might be said to encompass all four types, especially in the sections where she targets radical novelist Mary Hays—personally, politically, morally, and literarily.
Other period definitions seem to make distinctions of degree as well as of kind. Corbyn Morris’s Essay Towards Fixing the True Standards of Wit, Humour, Raillery, Satire, and Ridicule (1744) argues that ‘the aim of Raillery, is to please you, by some Embarrassment of a Person; Of Satire, to scourge Vice, and to deliver it up to your just Detestation; And of Ridicule, to set an Object in a mean ludicrous Light, so as to expose it to your Derision and Contempt’—quoted in Frances Burney, Evelina, edited by Susan Kubica Howard (1778; Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2000), p. 662. Morris’s definition, that satire ‘scourge[s] Vice’, suggests that it is the wit’s most potent weapon; his definition also implies that true satirists confine themselves to targeting abstract moral standards. As do Abbott’s definitions of satire, Morris’s definitions resist easy application to individual novels, however.

12. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present, edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy, and Patricia Clements (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990) calls Martin the ‘obscure author of five intelligent, various, stylish Minerva novels (not Sarah M., author of a 1795 cookery book; or Sarah Catherine M., author–illustrator of the rhyme of Old Mother Hubbard, pub. 1804; or the minor-novelist great-aunt of Mary Martin)’ (p. 721). We know little else of her biography.

13. ‘Mrs Martin’, The Enchantress; or Where Shall I Find Her? By the Author of Melbourne, Deloraine, Reginald, &c. (London: Minerva-Press for William Lane, 1801), p. 15. Subsequent references are taken from this edition of the novel, and will be given in the main text.

14. Biographical information on Green is scarce, and is potentially unreliable in being mostly culled from her literary works themselves and from reviews of her work. The Feminist Companion notes that Green was a ‘novelist and miscellaneous writer publishing in London’ and attributes to her a 1790 novel, Charles Henley, as well as the 1793 conduct book Mental Improvement for a Young Lady (p. 457). Her record of publication then apparently ceases until she begins to publish again starting in 1808. We cannot be sure that the Green who wrote in the 1790s is the same as she who wrote after 1808. Reviews of a selection of her novels are reprinted online at British Fiction, 1800–1829 and also at The Corvey Novels Project at the University of Nebraska: Studies in British Literature of the Romantic Period, edited by Jamie Mraz and Hyejung Jun, Online: Internet (1 June 2006)<>.

15. Sarah Green, The Private History of the Court of England, 2 vols (2nd edn, London, 1808), I, vii.

16. Review of Sarah Green, The Private History of the Court of England, Flowers of Literature (1808–09), lxxx.

17. Review of Sarah Green, The Private History of the Court of England, Critical Review, 3rd ser. 14 (June 1808), 217.

18. Review of Sarah Green, The Private History of the Court of England, Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 58 (Jan 1809), 101.

19. As April London reminds us, even Anti-Jacobin satirists of the 1790s had an ‘anxious sense that their satires might be seen as privately motivated’, a fear that stemmed as much from the real possibility of libel suits as from their desire to ‘distance themselves from the mockery they identified as a characteristic feature of radical writing’ and from illegitimate forms of satire—see ‘Novel and History in Anti-Jacobin Satire’, YBES, 30 (2000), 71–81 (pp. 79 and 79 n. 17).

20. See Jayne Lewis, ‘Compositions of Ill Nature: Women’s Place in a Satiric Tradition’, Critical Matrix, 2 (1986), 31–69; John Richetti, The English Novel in History, 1700–1780 (1999; New York: Routledge, 2003); Ros Ballaster, ‘A Gender of Opposition: Eliza Haywood’s Scandal Fiction’, in The Passionate Fictions of Eliza Haywood: Essays on her Life and Work, edited by Kirsten T. Saxton and Rebeccca P. Bocchicchio (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000), pp. 143–67.

21. Sarah Green, Romance Readers and Romance Writers: A Satirical Novel, 3 vols (London: Hookham, 1810), I, xii.

22. If we are to take their most obvious targets as clues to their type, then the novelistic satires of the Romantic period might be loosely grouped into three categories:
1. Both Jacobin and Anti-Jacobin political novels of the Revolutionary 1790s employ satire as weapons of debate in the ‘war of ideas’. For example, Robert Bage’s Hermsprong; or Man as He is Not (1796) is another novel, like those of Robinson and Inchbald, that defended political radicalism by employing the satirical methods of Sterne and Smollett. A number of anti-radical, anti-Godwinian satires, including Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), Edward Dubois’s The Travels of St Godwin (1800), and Isaac D’Israeli’s Vaurien (1797), were all published between 1797 and 1800.
2. Between 1810 and 1818 were published the most prominent satirical novels satirising novel writing, such as Sarah Green’s Romance Readers and Romance Writers (1810), Eaton Stannard Barrett’s The Heroine, Or Adventures of a Fair Romance Reader (1814), and Jane Austen’s posthumously published Northanger Abbey (1818).
3. Between about 1816 and 1826, a number of satirists published parodies of, or satires on, Scott and Byron, including Caroline Lamb’s Glenarvon (1816), Thomas Love Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey (1818),‘Peregrine Puzzlebrain’’s Tales of my Landlady, and Sarah Green’s Scotch Novel Reading or Modern Quackery (1823). All of these works can in some ways be seen as having primary targets that are literary, but certainly contain elements of political, social, and even personal satire as well.

23. Sarah Green, Romance Readers and Romance Writers: A Satirical Novel (1810), I, 7—available fromChawton House Library and Study Centre, Online: Internet (1 June 2006): <>. Although I had access to a copy of the preface (‘Literary Retrospection’, I, v–xxxvi) of the original 1810 edition of the novel, all other page references for Romance Readers and Romance Writers are to this electronic edition study text found at the Chawton House website. The page numbers for the Chawton edition do not correspond to those of the original.

24. Sarah Green, Percival Ellingford; or, the Reformist. A Novel. 2 vols (1810; 2nd edn, London: Newman, 1816), I, xi–xii.

25. See, for example, Gary Kelly, who identifies Robinson as an ‘English Jacobin’, but classes her with other women novelists ‘more indebted to Sensibility’ such as Smith, Inchbald, and Hays—English Fiction of the Romantic Period, 1780–1830 (Harlow: Longman, 1989), p. 26. Kelly also mentions Robinson in The English Jacobin Novel, 1780–1805 (London: Clarendon Press, 1976) as one who ‘partook of that “brisk traffic in opinions” around William Godwin’ (p. 12). Katherine Rogers identifies Robinson’s Walsingham as showing ‘some evidence of the radicals’ feminist concerns’—Feminism in Eighteenth-Century England (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), p. 218, n. 27). Eleanor Ty reads Walsingham, The False Friend, and The Natural Daughter as narratives that employ ‘the language of sentiment, of romance, and of the Gothic’—rather than the language of satire—in order to ‘empower the feminine’—Empowering the Feminine: The Narratives of Mary Robinson, Jane West, and Amelia Opie, 1796–1812 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), p. 18. Sharon Setzer rightly points out that social ties, at least, between Robinson and Godwin were strong:
As entries in Godwin’s diary indicate, he became a frequent visitor at Robinson’s home after they were introduced by Robert Merry in February 1796. The visits came to an end, however, shortly after Godwin’s marriage to Wollstonecraft in March 1797, and they did not resume until January 1798, some four months after her death.—In Mary Robinson, The Natural Daughter. With Portraits of the Leadenhead Family. A Novel (1799), in A Letter to the Women of England and The Natural Daughter, edited by Sharon M. Setzer (Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2003), p. 19.

26. Robinson, The Natural Daughter, p. 208. Subsequent references are to this edition of the text and are given in the essay.

27. Quoted in Robinson, The Natural Daughter, p. 330.

28. Quoted in ibid., p. 329.

29. Like Romance Readers and Romance Writers, copies of original editions of Paris Lions and London Tigers are extremely rare. Therefore, page numbers used refer to the electronic edition study text found at the Chawton House website for this edition; they do not correspond to those of the original—see Chawton House Library and Study Centre, Online: Internet (1 June 2006): <>.

Appendix A: Satirical Novels by Women, 1795–1825


[Anon.] [probably female], The Observant Pedestrian; or, Traits of the Heart: In a Solitary Tour from Caernarvon to London


Frances Burney, Camilla
Elizabeth Hamilton, Letters of a Hindoo Rajah
Elizabeth Inchbald, Nature and Art


Mary Robinson, Walsingham; or the Pupil of Nature. A Domestic Story


Sophia King, Waldorf; or the Dangers of Philosophy


Mary Charlton, Rosella
Mrs [Mary] Robinson, The Natural Daughter. With Portraits of the Leadenhead Family. A Novel
Mary Robinson, The False Friend; a Domestic Story


Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, an Hibernian Tale Taken from Fact, and from the Manners of the Irish Squires before the Year 1782
[Elizabeth Hamilton], Memoirs of Modern Philosophers


[Anon.], Farther Excursions of the Observant Pedestrian, Exemplified in a Tour to Margate
[Mrs Martin], The Enchantress; or Where Shall I Find Her?
Maria Edgeworth, Belinda


Maria Edgeworth, The Modern Griselda


Maria Edgeworth, Leonora


[Sarah Green], The Private History of the Court of England


Maria Edgeworth, Tales of Fashionable Life, vols 1–3 (‘Ennui’, ‘Almeria’, ‘Madame de Fleury’, ‘The Dun’, ‘Manoeuvring’)


[Sarah Green], Romance Readers and Romance Writers
[Sarah Green], The Reformist!!! A Serio-Comic Political Novel [later retitled Percival Ellingford (1816)]
‘Caroline Burney’, Lindamira; or, an Old Maid in Search of a Husband. A Satirical Novel


‘A Lady’ [Jane Austen], Sense and Sensibility: A Novel


Maria Edgeworth, Tales of Fashionable Life, vols 4–6 (‘Vivian’, ‘Emilie de Coulanges’, ‘The Absentee’)


‘By the Author of Sense and Sensibility’ [Jane Austen], Pride and Prejudice: A Novel


‘By the Author of Sense and Sensibility & Pride and Prejudice’ [Jane Austen], Mansfield Park: A Novel
Frances Burney, The Wanderer; or Female Difficulties
Maria Edgeworth, Patronage


Maria Edgeworth, Harrington and Ormond


[Anon.], Uncle Tweazy and his Quizzical Neighbours: A Comi-Satiric Novel. By the Author of The ‘Observant Pedestrian’
‘By the Author of Pride and Prejudice, &c., &c.’ [Jane Austen], Emma: A Novel
‘Mrs [Sarah] Green’, Percival Ellingford or the Reformist; a Novel [new edn of The Reformist!!! (1810)]
[Caroline Lamb], Glenarvon


‘By the Author of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, &c.’ [Jane Austen], Northanger Abbey: and Persuasion [NA completed 1803]
Susan Ferrier, Marriage [written 1810]


[Alicia Wyndham?], Harold the Exile


Mrs [Sarah] Green, Who is the Bridegroom? Or Nuptial Discoveries. A Novel.
[Caroline Lamb], Graham Hamilton


‘A Cockney’ [Sarah Green], Scotch Novel Reading or Modern Quackery. A Novel Really Founded on Facts [emphasis in original]
‘Mrs [Sarah] Green’, Gretna Green Marriages, or the Nieces. A Novel
[Caroline Lamb], Ada Reis: A Tale


‘Mrs [Sarah] Green’, Parents and Wives; Or Inconsistency and Mistakes. A Novel
Harriette Wilson, Paris Lions and London Tigers

Appendix B: British Satirical Novels in the Romantic Period, 1790–1830

1792 Robert Bage, Man As He is
Thomas Holcroft, Anna St Ives (to 1794)
1794 Thomas Holcroft, The Adventures of Hugh Trevor (to 1797)
1795 [Anon.], The Observant Pedestrian; or, Traits of the Heart: In a Solitary Tour from Caernarvon to London
1796 Robert Bage, Hermsprong; or Man As He Is Not
Frances Burney, Camilla
Elizabeth Hamilton, Letters of a Hindoo Rajah
Elizabeth Inchbald, Nature and Art
George Walker, Theodore Cyphon
1797 Isaac D’Israeli, Vaurien; or Sketches of the Times
Mary Robinson, Walsingham; or the Pupil of Nature. A Domestic Story
1798 Charles Lucas, The Castle of St Donats; or the History of Jack Smith
Sophia King, Waldorf; or the Dangers of Philosophy
‘R.S., Esq.’ [Richard Sickelmore], The New Monk: A Romance
Jane West, A Tale of the Times
1799 Mary Charlton, Rosella
Mary Robinson, The False Friend; a Domestic Story
Mrs [Mary] Robinson, The Natural Daughter. With Portraits of the Leadenhead Family. A Novel
George Walker, The Vagabond; or Practical Infidelity. A Novel
1800 Robert Bisset, Douglas: or, the Highlander
‘Count Reginald de St Leon’ [Edward Dubois], [The Travels of] St Godwin: A Tale of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Century
Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent, an Hibernian Tale Taken from Fact, and from the Manners of the Irish Squires before the Year 1782
[Elizabeth Hamilton], Memoirs of Modern Philosophers
1801 [Anon.], Dorothea; or, A Ray of the New Light
[Anon.], Farther Excursions of the Observant Pedestrian, Exemplified in a Tour to Margate
[Edward Dubois], Old Nick: A Satirical Story
Maria Edgeworth, Belinda
Charles Lucas, The Infernal Quixote, a Tale of the Day
[Mrs Martin], The Enchantress; or Where Shall I Find Her?
1804 ‘Henrico F. Glysticus’, Tears of Camphor; or Love and Nature Triumphant. A Satirical Tale of the Nineteenth Century. Interspersed with Original Poetry
1805 Maria Edgeworth, The Modern Griselda
Thomas Holcroft, The Memoirs of Bryan Perdue
[Isaac D’Israeli], Flim-Flams! Or, the Life and Errors of My Uncle and the Amours of My Aunt; together with Illustrations and Obscurities, by Messieurs Rag, Tag, and Bobtail. With an Illuminating Index!
1806 Maria Edgeworth, Leonora
T[homas] S[kinner] Surr, A Winter in London: or, Sketches of Fashion: A Novel
1807 ‘Cervantes Hogg, F.S.M.’ [E. S. Barrett], The Rising Sun; a Serio-Comic Satiric Romance
1808 ‘Author of The Rising Sun’ [E. S. Barrett], The Miss-led General: A Serio-Comic, Satiric, Mock Heroic Romance
[Sarah Green], A Private History of the Court of England
Dennis Lawler, Vicissitudes in Early Life; or, the History of Frank Neville, a Serio-Comic, Sentimental, and Satirical Tale: Interspersed with Comic Sketches, Anecdotes of Living Characters, and Original Poetry; Elegiac, Humourous, Lyrical, and Descriptive. With a Caricature Frontispiece
1809 Maria Edgeworth, Tales of Fashionable Life, vols 1–3 (‘Ennui’, ‘Almeria’, ‘Madame de Fleury’, ‘The Dun’, ‘Manoeuvring’)
1810 [Sarah Green], Romance Readers and Romance Writers. A Satirical Novel
‘Caroline Burney’, Lindamira; or, an Old Maid in Search of a Husband. A Satirical Novel
1811 ‘A Lady’ [Jane Austen], Sense and Sensibility: A Novel
‘Cervantes Hogg’ [E. S. Barrett], The Metropolis; or a Cure for Gaming. Interspersed with Anecdotes of Living Characters in High Life
1812 [Anon.], My Own Times, a Novel. Containing Information on the Latest Fashions, the Improved Morals, the Virtuous Education, and the Important Avocations of High Life. Taken from ‘The Best Authorities,’ and Dedicated, without Permission, to ‘Those Who Will Understand It’
‘A Naval Officer’, A Peep at the Theatres! And Bird’s-Eye Views of Men in the Jubilee Year! A Novel, Satirical, Critical, and Moral
Maria Edgeworth, Tales of Fashionable Life, vols 4–6 (‘Vivian’, ‘Emilie de Coulanges’, ‘The Absentee’)
1813 ‘By the Author of Sense and Sensibility’ [Jane Austen], Pride and Prejudice: A Novel
[Anon.], It Was Me! A Tale, by Me, or, One Who Cares for Nothing or Nobody
1814 ‘Humphrey Hedgehog’ [John Agg], A Month in Town. A Satirical Novel
‘By the Author of Sense and Sensibility & Pride and Prejudice’ [Jane Austen], Mansfield Park: A Novel
E[aton] S[tannard] Barrett, The Heroine, or Adventures of a Fair Romance Reader
Frances Burney, The Wanderer; or Female Difficulties
Maria Edgeworth, Patronage
[Pierce Egan], The Mistress of Royalty; or the Loves of Florizel and Perdita, Portrayed in the Amatory Epistles, between an Illustrious Personage, and a Distinguished Female; with an Interesting Sketch of Florizel and Perdita, including Other Characters
1815 John Agg, A Month at Brussels, a Satirical Novel
Maria Edgeworth, Harrington and Ormond
Thomas Love Peacock, Headlong Hall
1816 [Anon.], Gulzara, Princess of Persia; or the Virgin Queen. Collected from the Original Persian
[Anon.], Uncle Tweazy and his Quizzical Neighbours: A Comi-Satiric Novel. By the Author of The ‘Observant Pedestrian’
‘By the Author of Pride and Prejudice, &c., &c.’ [Jane Austen], Emma: A Novel
‘Humphrey Glump’, A Tour to Purgatory and Back. A Satirical Novel
‘Green, Mrs [Sarah]’, Percival Ellingford or the Reformist; a Novel
‘Humphrey Hedgehog’ [John Agg], Eighteen Hundred and Fifteen; a Satirical Novel
[Caroline Lamb], Glenarvon
1817 ‘Humphrey Hedgehog’ [John Agg], The Pavilion; or a Month in Brighton. A Satirical Novel
E[aton] S[tannard] Barrett, Six Weeks at Long’s: By a Late Resident
T[homas] L[ove] Peacock, Melincourt
1818 ‘By the Author of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, &c.’ [Jane Austen], Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion (NA completed 1803)
Susan Ferrier, Marriage (written 1810)
[Anon.], Prodigious!!! Or Childe Paddie in London
‘Thomas Brown the Elder’, Bath, a Satirical Novel. With Anecdotical Portraits
‘Peregrine Puzzlebrain’, Tales of my Landlady. Edited by Peregrine Puzzlebrain. Assistant to the Schoolmaster of Gandercleugh
T[homas] L[ove] Peacock, Nightmare Abbey
1819 [Anon.], The Englishman in Paris; a Satirical Novel. With Sketches of the Most Remarkable Characters that Have Recently Visited that Celebrated Capital
[‘By the author of Prodigious!!!’], Gogmagog-Hall; or the Philosophical Lord and the Governess
[Anon.] [Alicia Wyndham?] Harold the Exile
[Anon.], London: Or a Month at Stevens’s, by a Late Resident. A Satirical Novel
[Anon.], The Metropolis. A Novel, by the Author of Little Hydrogen, or the Devil on Two Sticks in London
1820 [Anon], Edinburgh: A Satirical Novel. By the Author of London; or a Month at Stevens’s
Charles Lucas, Gwelygordd; or, the Child of Sin. A Tale of Welsh Origin
1821 Pierce Egan, Life in London; or the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom, Accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis. […] Embellished with Thirty-Six Scenes from Real Life, Designed and Etched by I. R. & G. Cruikshank; and Enriched also with Numerous Original Designs on Wood, by the Same Artists
Innes Hoole, Scenes at Brighton; or ‘How Much?’ A Satirical Novel
‘A Real Paddy’, Real Life in Ireland; or the Day and Night Scenes, Rovings, Rambles, and Sprees, Bulls, Blunders, Bodderation and Blarney, of Brian Boru, Esq., and his Elegant Friend Sir Shawn O’Dogherty, Exhibiting a Real Picture of Characters, Manners, &c. in High and Low Life, in Dublin and Various Parts of Ireland. Embellished with Humorous Coloured Engravings, from Original Designs by the Most Eminent Artists
1822 [Anon.], Tales of My Aunt Martha
‘An Amateur’ [Pierce Egan], Real Life in London; or the Rambles and Adventures of Bob Tallyho, Esq., and his Cousin, the Hon. Tom Dashall, through the Metropolis; Exhibiting a Living Picture of Fashionable Characters, Manners, and Amusements in High and Low Life
Mrs [Sarah] Green, Who is the Bridegroom? Or Nuptial Discoveries. A Novel
[Caroline Lamb], Graham Hamilton
T[homas] L[ove] Peacock, Maid Marian
1823 [Anon.], Maria; or a Shandean Journey of a Young Lady through Flanders and France during the Summer of 1822. By My Uncle Oddy
‘Bernard Blackmantle’ [Charles Molloy Westmacott], The English Spy: An Original Work, Characteristic, Satirical, and Humorous
‘A Cockney’ [Sarah Green], Scotch Novel Reading or Modern Quackery. A Novel Really Founded on Facts [emphasis in original]
‘Mrs [Sarah] Green’, Gretna Green Marriages, or the Nieces. A Novel
[Caroline Lamb], Ada Reis: A Tale
1824 Susan Ferrier, The Inheritance
James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Written by Himself, with a Detail of Curious Traditionary Facts and Other Evidence by the Editor
1825 [Anon.], New Landlord’s Tales; or Jedediah in the South
John Harman Bedford, Lieut. R.N., Wanderings of Childe Harolde. A Romance of Real Life. Interspersed with Memoirs of the English Wife, the Foreign Mistress, and Various Other Celebrated Characters
‘Mrs [Sarah] Green’, Parents and Wives; or Inconsistency and Mistakes. A Novel
Harriette Wilson, Paris Lions and London Tigers
1826 [Anon.], The Eccentric Traveller
1828 [Anon.] Whimwhams
Pierce Egan, The Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic in their Pursuits through Life In and Out of London
1829 T[homas] L[ove] Peacock, The Misfortunes of Elphin
1830 [Harriette Wilson], Clara Gazul
1831 Susan Ferrier, Destiny
[Catherine Gore], Mothers and Daughters: A Tale of the Year 1830
T[homas] L[ove] Peacock, Crochet Castle
1834 Maria Edgeworth, Helen: A Tale