Nicola Lloyd »

Nicola Lloyd is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Bath Spa University.  She specializes in fiction of the Romantic period, with a particular focus on the Irish national tale and the interactions between Romanticism and Enlightenment. Her doctoral thesis, which she is currently preparing for publication, considered the influence of Enlightenment discourses of moral philosophy and perception on Romantic-period fiction. Nicky has published articles on the Irish novelist Lady Morgan and is one of the authors of The Palgrave History Gothic Publishing: The Business of Gothic Fiction, 1764–1835, due for completion in 2017. She is currently preparing a scholarly edition of Mary Julia Young’s gothic–national tale Donalda; or, the Witches of Glenshiel (1805). 

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This article is copyright © 2008 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.). The matter contained within this article provides bibliographical information based on independent personal research by the contributor, and as such has not been subject to the peer-review process.

Referring to this Article

N. S. LLOYD. ‘Mary Julia Young: A Biographical and Bibliographical Study’, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840,18 (Summer 2008).

Online: Internet (date accessed):

Mary Julia Young

A Biographical and Bibliographical Study


Mary Julia Young was a prolific author of fiction and poetry between 1791 and 1810. Although she was listed as one of the ‘Mothers of the Novel’ in Dale Spender’s 100 Good Women Writers Before Jane Austen, she has never been an author of established literary reputation. [1] Despite her self-proclaimed association with the celebrated Augustan Graveyard poet Edward Young, critical focus on Young has been restricted to cursory entries in encyclopaedias of women’s writing or Romantic poetry and a few passing references in more general works of criticism to ‘Julia Maria Young’. [2] Nonetheless, in 2007, Young’s 1798 novel Rose-Mount Castle; or, False Report was republished for the first time. [3] This interest in Young’s work—a product of the ongoing attempt to recuperate minor authors of the Romantic period—is the first indication of her potential significance. Indeed, while she was not especially influential in her own time, Young provides a striking example for the modern scholar of the female literary professionalism that transformed the book trade during the course of the eighteenth century.

As one of a growing number of women who wrote, as she termed it, ‘for a maintenance’, [4] Young offers a valuable insight into the role of women’s fiction in a market of mass novel production. It is only within the last two decades that the full extent of women’s involvement in the literary marketplace at this time has begun to be explored, demonstrating that in the eighteenth century there was ‘a fairly continuous presence of “dependant professional” female writers in the literature market’, which continued into the 1800s and beyond. [5] Young’s literary career encapsulates many of the hardships faced by these ‘dependant professional’ women who were financially reliant on their literary output. Writing appears to have been her principal occupation and she was forced to seek financial assistance from the Royal Literary Fund in 1808 after her publisher went bankrupt, owing Young a considerable sum. Throughout her writing career, Young—like many other professional female writers—was placed under immense pressure from the publishing entrepreneurs of the day and forced to be highly attuned to the fluctuations of the market she sought to exploit.

Little is known about Young’s personal life. She is often confused with Mary Sewell (née Young), the daughter of Sir William Young, who married the Revd George Sewell and lived in Surrey and then Chertsey until her death in 1821, producing a number of works of poetry. [6] In fact, the dates of Mary Julia Young’s birth and death are not known and very little information about her family and upbringing remains. The only existing biographical information is found in Young’s application to the Royal Literary Fund (RLF), in which she writes that she was born into ‘two very large families’ and brought up by her ‘sensible and virtuous mother’. She claims that she is the last living member of these families, having ‘survived six brothers and twenty five cousins’ (RLF, 28 March 1808). The most important aspect of Young’s biography, and one that was of immense importance to her writing, was her relationship to the Augustan poet Edward Young. In her RLF application, Young declares that she is the only surviving relative of Edward Young—‘one of the brightest ornaments of English Literature’—who had been a friend of her father and was godfather to her closest brother, to whom he gave his name Edward (RLF, 28 March 1808).

Her claimed relationship to Edward Young had a marked effect on Mary Julia Young’s writing career, with publishers keen to exploit her association with an author of such distinction. Edward Young (1683–1765) was a friend of writers as disparate as Richardson, Pope, and Johnson, and he published a number of plays and poems in the early to mid-eighteenth century. These included The Complaint; or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality in June 1742, which met with immediate success and remains his most well-known work. [7] Mary Julia Young refers to Edward Young in the majority of her novels, with the first mention of her relationship to him appearing in the dedication of Rose-Mount Castle (1798). For an unknown female author such as Young, the claim of such a relationship was a way in which she could command an element of credibility—albeit by association—in a literary marketplace often hostile to female writers.

While it is the fiction of Mary Julia Young that provides the main focus of this paper, her poetry, memoir, and translations are also of note, and are representative of the need for female professional writers to produce a varied output in order to maximise commercial gain. She published three works of poetry in the 1790s: Genius and Fancy; or, Dramatic Sketches (1791; republished in 1795), Adelaide and Antonine, or the Emigrants: A Tale (1793) and Poems (1798; published in 1801 as The Metrical Museum: Part I,which also included Adelaide and Antonine). [8] Her verse exhibits the same acute awareness of literary fashion that can be identified in her fiction. Much of it is derivative of the sentimental genre popularised by the Della Cruscan school in the late 1780s and early 1790s, and it prefigures the more domesticated sensibility of late-Romantic female poets like Felicia Hemans and Letitia Elizabeth Landon. Young also received an entry in the 1999 anthology A Century of Sonnets, acknowledging her use of a form that was popular with female poets of sentiment in the period, most notably Charlotte Smith. [9]

Her poetry also demonstrates an engagement with contemporary politics. Adelaide and Antonine takes place within the setting of revolutionary France and her ‘An Ode to Fancy’ (from Genius and Fancy [1791] and also published in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1794) is a rewriting of Joseph Warton’s ‘Ode to Fancy’ (1746), which was highly influential in its poetic treatment of war. [10] Interestingly, one commentator has noted that Young’s version of Warton’s poem ‘reveals both the generic constraints placed on her as a woman poet and the role that sensibility had come to play in responses to the sufferings of war.’ [11] Like many other women writers of the period, Young’s gender and her appropriation of sentimental style limited the possibility of extensive political dialogue. In addition to her poetry, Young also produced three translations—Lindorf and Caroline (1803), The Mother and Daughter (1804), and Voltairiana (1805) [12] —in accordance with the fashion for translations from both French and German during the period, and a memoir of the actress Mrs Crouch, whom she greatly admired. [13] Interestingly, it is this work that has provided the most lasting legacy for Young, being cited frequently in accounts of the stage in the Romantic era. [14]

Mary Julia Young is generally considered to have written nine novels. The attribution of the first of these nine novels—The Family Party (1791)—to Young is, however, problematic. It is ascribed to Young by Dorothy Blakey in The Minerva Press, 1790–1820 (1939), in which she states her source to be ‘a Minerva Library Catalogue of 1814’. [15] However, while examination of Minerva catalogues for this date does show an entry for ‘The Family Party, 3 vol., 9s.’ no mention of Young can be traced. It is also omitted by Young in her 1808 letter to the RLF, which includes the other seven novels that had been published by this date. The interim of seven years (a relatively long interval for a novelist of this period, and in particular one who was financially dependent on their writing) between this and Rose-Mount Castle (1798) cannot in itself provide convincing proof of a misattribution. However, an examination of the novel reveals other features that seem to conflict with the rest of Young’s fiction. The style and content of The Family Party differs considerably from the other novels, with frequent direct addresses to the reader (in contrast to the omniscient narration of the other eight works), [16] and an engagement with debates of proto-feminist politics characterised by a forthrightness unfamiliar in the rest of Young’s work.

Likewise, while it was by no means unusual at this time for an author’s first novel to be published anonymously, this does seem curious in the case of Young, given her supposed connection to Edward Young. In addition to the mention of their relationship in the dedication to Rose-Mount Castle, Young’s poetry appears in four of her other novels in the form of epigraphs or quotations within the text. [17] It seems unlikely that any publisher would choose for Mary Julia Young to remain anonymous, with no other titles to her name, when referring to her relationship to Edward Young would have been such a potentially lucrative marketing technique. These factors, coupled with the apparent inaccuracy of Blakey’s reference to the 1814 Minerva catalogue, make it seem likely that the attribution of The Family Party to Young is incorrect. Therefore, for the remainder of this report, the novel will be classified as a spurious attribution. [18]

Accordingly, the remaining eight novels published by Young are as follows: Rose-Mount Castle (1798), The East Indian; or Clifford Priory (1799), Moss Cliff Abbey; or, The Sepulchral Harmonist. A Mysterious Tale (1803), Right and Wrong; or, The Kinsmen of Naples. A Romantic Story (1803), Donalda; or, The Witches of Glenshiel. A Caledonian Legend (1805), A Summer at Brighton. A Modern Novel (1807), A Summer in Weymouth; or, The Star of Fashion (1808), and The Heir of Drumcondra; or, Family Pride (1810). Young’s fiction characterises her engagement with dominant literary trends of the Romantic period and, while few of the novels can be neatly classified within a particular genre, they all pastiche elements of popular modes of fiction. Public reception of other works provided a model for hack writers seeking commercial success, who could recycle popular modes, styles, and titles common to current literary fashions. This is particularly evident in the number of Gothic novels that flooded the market in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. [19] Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), M. G. Lewis’s The Monk (1796), and Regina Maria Roche’s Children of the Abbey (1796) in particular spawned a multitude of novels with derivative titles, including T. J. Horsley Curties’s The Monk of Udolpho (1807), Mary Anne Radcliffe’s Manfroné; or, the One-Handed Monk (1809), and Sophia Woodfall’s Rosa; or, the Child of the Abbey (1805). [20]

The title of a novel could determine its level of success, for many circulating libraries listed their works by title alone (and sometimes also by subtitle). [21] Young was no exception to the number of authors that appropriated elements of popular titles for their own work. The title of Rose-Mount Castle; or, False Report—castles being even more popular than abbeys in titles at this time—and the opening chapter in which the male protagonist discovers a ruined castle containing a buried human head and three dead bodies, carries a strong suggestion of the Gothic. However, it transpires that this Gothic opening is nothing more than commercial exploitation: the title of the work refers to the setting of a novel that becomes increasingly generic and sentimental. The Critical Review refers to ‘the gang of Irish defenders, who rob and murder in a very sentimental style’ and the numerous love-matches in the novel, ‘all which prove abundantly prosperous’—another disreputable feature of novels of sentiment. [22] Despite the fact that by the end of the 1790s the popularity of the novel of sensibility was in decline—in part owing to its growing association with radicalism in the public consciousness—Young continued to utilise the plot devices and affective discourse of sentimental fiction, divested of its Jacobin leanings, in almost all of her novels.

Her second novel, The East Indian, or Clifford Priory (1799), is the most identifiably Gothic of Young’s publications. The epigraph—in a style reminiscent of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts— refers to ‘the sepulchral gloom of dreary vaults, where the long buried dead in silence sleep’ and plot devices such as a dilapidated and reputedly haunted building and the discovery of secret passages, vaults and a mysterious locked room clearly resemble those of the Radcliffean Gothic. Young—never one to miss the opportunity of an allusion to a writer of eminence—refers directly to Radcliffe when the heroine Elinor Clifford enters her new bedroom and the coverlid on her bed ‘remind[s] her of the black pall in the Mysteries of Udolpho’, [23] and Elinor’s subsequent discoveries of a black cloth curtain concealing the skeleton of a monk and a locked room containing two wax effigies in coffins are clearly derivative of Udolpho. The title of Young’s next novel Moss Cliff Abbey; or, the Sepulchral Harmonist. A Mysterious Tale (1803) was so obviously Gothic that it was singled out by the Critical Review, which wryly conceded the benefits of a ‘taking title’ and declared that ‘we augur well of the success of the “Sepulchral Harmonist”, in these days when ghosts and mysteries are so fashionable.’ [24] The use of the word ‘mysterious’ in the title is of course another allusion to The Mysteries of Udolpho, while the familiar Radcliffean plot device of the ‘explained supernatural’—such as the ‘pale, shrouded forms’ (IV, 114) that turn out to be statues—is employed throughout the novel.

Right and Wrong; or, the Kinsmen of Naples (1803) begins in the popular Gothic setting of Italy and, with its shift in location from Italy to Wales, borrows from the fashionable Porteresque fiction of the period. Like Jane Porter’s highly popular Thaddeus of Warsaw of the same year, in which the hero absconds to Britain from the politically volatile Poland, Right and Wrong fuses its pan-European focus with domestic sentimentalism. Porter, like Young, was not wholly committed to one fictional mode and her ‘historical’ novels were highly sentimental. Similarly, after its initial shift from violent dynastic strife in Italy, Right and Wrong lapses into exaggerated sensibility, making use of the popular sentimental device of discovered origins, revealing the mystery surrounding the protagonist’s birth at the novel’s close, finally giving him the freedom to marry. Donalda; or, the Witches of Glenshiel (1805) at once appropriates the burgeoning interest in regional fiction and anticipates the trend for historical fiction of the 1810s. It carries the sub-title ‘A Caledonian Legend’ and is set in eleventh-century Scotland, featuring the Scottish royal family and drawing frequently on events from Macbeth. Its Shakespearean elements conveniently overlap with the contemporary trend for the Gothic, with its inclusion of ghosts, witches, and the supernatural appearance of drops of blood on a dagger.

Young’s next two publications mark her most obvious exploitation of an already successful subgenre. A Summer at Brighton (1807) and A Summer at Weymouth; or, the Star of Fashion (1808), are two of the most pronounced examples of the numerous scandal novels published in the wake of T. S. Surr’s A Winter in London (1806). Young’s plots utilise the devices of the illegitimate child and scandalous affairs and elopements that characterise this type of fiction and the novels also draw on the fashion for ‘royal tales’ in the setting of Brighton, the location of the Prince Regent’s alternative court, with both featuring episodes marked by the appearance of royalty. It is notable that Young published both novels anonymously, referring only to herself as ‘the author of A Summer at Brighton’ on the title page of A Summer at Weymouth. This suggests an astute awareness of the paradoxical nature of scandal novels, which, while remaining pro-morals and anti-fashionable society, were often considered salacious and immoral. While A Summer in Brighton brought Young the greatest success of her literary career, with the novel running to five editions, the fashion for scandal fiction was short-lived and Young’s next novel is representative of the conservative domestic fiction that became popular in the early 1810s, following the success of Hannah More’s evangelical Cœlebs in Search of a Wife (1808). [25]

The Heir of Drumcondra; or, Family Pride (1810), in direct opposition to the sensational accounts of the beau monde in Young’s previous two novels, contrasts the idleness and libertinism of the gentry with the industriousness and benevolence of the merchant classes, the epigraph to the work reading ‘Let high birth triumph! What can be more great? | Nothing—but merit in a low estate’. The novel is dedicated to the Jewish merchant and financier Abraham Goldsmid, who provided an important contribution of loans to the British government during the Napoleonic wars and, according to Young, ‘nobly supports the eminent character of a British Merchant; and renders himself an honour to this glorious land of commerce’. [26] The novel marks a clear departure from the mode of scandal fiction and falls broadly within the emergent trend for moralising domestic fiction that would be prevalent for the next two decades. Young’s fictional conversion is representative of the literary marketplace more generally; as Peter Garside notes, at this time ‘[e]ven more run-of-the-mill novelists show signs of wanting to distance themselves from the general decline in standards’. [27] This perceived decline was as much moral as it was aesthetic. The backlash against radical sensibility and scandal fiction brought about an insistence on didacticism and dissemination of benevolence in women’s fiction and Young, as a writer reliant on the commercial success of her novels, could not afford to ignore such a significant change in the market.

The Publishing Industry and the Literary Marketplace
Young’s apparent awareness of the tastes and trends of the literary marketplace is likely to have been largely a result of her publishers. As Cheryl Turner observes, professional female writers were heavily reliant on their booksellers, who were ‘in a position to nurture a literary career by advising upon the content of material, thus guiding the author towards a larger readership and a higher income.’ [28] Many publishers of the period—including William Lane, who issued Rose-Mount Castle—pioneered both commercial circulating libraries and the publication of the type of fashionable novels produced by Young. [29] Young writes in her RLF application that she had a ‘fair reading in circulating libraries’ (RLF, 28 March 1808) and this may be attributed in part to her publishers. [30] As well as owning a circulating library, Lane focused on the sale of generic fiction and his Minerva Press dominated the sale of novels during the opening decades of the nineteenth century. [31] He may have been attractive to Young as an author wishing to market her first novel given his attempts to ‘facilitate the process of initial contact between author and publisher by advertising his desire for new material’, using both ‘magazines and his own publications for this purpose.’ [32] While Young published twice with the Minerva Press and once with another publisher, the remaining five of her novels were published by James Fletcher Hughes. Like Lane, Hughes also published fashionable novels, and his aptitude for aggressive and innovative promotion is evident in the advertising of Young’s work.

Peter Garside details a list of works ‘Just Published’ by Hughes in 1803, in which Young’s translation Lindorf and Caroline; or, the Dangers of Credulity is listed as ‘deriving from the German of Professor Kramer, author of Hermann of Unna’, and where Right and Wrong is said to be written by ‘Miss Young, niece of Dr. Young, author of “Night Thoughts” ’. [33] Billing Young’s works in this way and associating them with Kramer’s popular novel of the 1790s and the equally popular Night Thoughts was typical of Hughes’s ‘puffing’ techniques. Mary Julia Young’s relationship to Edward Young would have been extremely attractive to publishers seeking to market her work, and—as mentioned previously—references to him appear in no less than five of her novels, all of which were published by either Hughes or the Minerva Press. [34] Garside also notes that the title of Mary Julia Young’s translation The Mother and Daughter (1804) is clearly reminiscent of the title of Amelia Opie’s Father and Daughter, published three years earlier—a pronounced example of Hughes’s propensity for capitalising on popular titles. [35] Hughes sought to follow the success of T. S. Surr’s A Winter in London (1806) with Young’s two scandal novels and A Summer at Brighton was advertised as ‘a Continuation of that very popular production, “The Winter in London”’. [36] It achieved great success in the circulating libraries and ran to five editions in its year of publication, with the addition of a fourth volume to the third edition ‘containing the Memoirs and Intrigues of the Modern Laïs, a well-known woman of rank and fashion’ sold separately. [37 ] However, it is worth noting the possibility that these editions were merely unsold earlier copies that were freshly titled, a technique often employed by Hughes to shift excess stock. [38]

It is clear that Young’s literary production was heavily influenced by her publishers and she refers in her application to the RLF to ‘the restraint laid on [her] pen’ (RLF, 28 March 1808), presumably by her previous publisher, Hughes. Of course, her dependence on her publishers was also financial, and when Hughes went bankrupt in 1808, he left Young in severe pecuniary difficulty. She was forced to apply to the Royal Literary Fund—which had been founded in 1790 with the aim of aiding authors in straitened circumstances—for financial assistance, stating in her correspondence with them that ‘my publisher became a Bankrupt when he was indebted to me above seventy pounds of which I have received only one dividend of about seven pounds’ (RLF, 28 March 1808). This letter highlights the extent of Young’s financial dependence on her writing. It also demonstrates the moral sensitivity required of a female novelist. Young is careful to profess her awareness of her moral responsibility, given the status of ‘[n]ovels as a species of literature sought after with avidity by the younger part of both sexes’. She goes on to declare that she had:

invariably, to the best of my abilities, endeavoured to render the strictest observance of relative duties indispensable to amiable and sensible characters and to inculcate virtue, fortitude, and benevolence by the most encouraging examples.

This emphasis on the didactic content of her novels appeared to be effective in procuring Young financial support, for she was subsequently granted £15 by the RLF.

However, her efforts were not so well received elsewhere. Young was aware of the potential for harsh reviews of her work, publishing a poem in 1798 entitled ‘To a Friend, on his Desiring Me to Publish’, where she considers her position as ‘an unknown, untaught woman’ who, if she chooses to publish her writing, will:

Expose myself to dread Reviews
To paragraphs in daily news […]
To gall-dipp’d pens that write one down
To Envy’s hiss, and Critic’s frown [39]

Indeed, given the response of contemporary reviewers to Young’s work, this apprehension appears well grounded. In the in text preceding the Anti-Jacobin’s review of Right and Wrong, the reviewer refers to the publication’s deliberately scant focus on novels and the ‘worthless trash which, year after year, come forward to load the groaning shelves of our circulating libraries’, of which ‘nonsense and folly are, not unfrequently, the most innocent ingredients.’ [40] He then remarks that novels are often ‘intentionally filled with poison of the most destructive kinds; with sedition, irreligion, and the grossest immorality’ and goes on to refer to the ‘seductive and dangerous’ novels of Rousseau, lest the reader be in any doubt about the association of novels with Jacobinism and moral corruption.

While the reviewer cannot find anything quite so pernicious in Young’s novel, he is far from complimentary. In fact, Young never found a favourable reception amongst contemporary critics. The majority of the reviews of her work focus on the improbability of the plots and while some state that her work ‘is not to be read without interest’, [41] many were considerably more condemnatory. Certainly, the tone of the reviewer for the Anti-Jacobin is distinctly acerbic, declaring that ‘as this lady translates from German and French, we hope that she understands these languages; for we cannot, with justice, compliment her on the accuracy with which she writes her own.’ (AJR, 19: 428) The reviewer does allow for typographical errors—‘[s]ome of the blunders which we have observed may be errors of the press’ [42]—but is not prepared to make any further allowances, following this comment with the statement that ‘many of them are such as can be accounted for from ignorance alone.’

The review illustrates the extent of hostility towards female novelists, declaring that Young’s ‘authority […] will not be sufficient to render legitimate’ the ‘new words’ she coins (AJR, 19: 428). It goes on to criticise the examples of Young’s poetry that appear in the novel, stating that ‘the following stanza contains one of those hard words, with which ladies should not meddle, as they cannot be supposed to have studied Latin prosody’. However, even Young’s anonymous works—divested of the negative effects of her gender—were received unfavourably. A review of A Summer at Brighton condemns writers who publish continuations and classes the novel as ‘a contemptible production, by some anonymous scribbler’, stating that the Monthly Magazine considers continuations of this type to be ‘picking the pockets of the public, and robbing the author of his reputation.’ [43] This shows both an awareness of and contempt for hack writers like Young, one of the ‘emergent literary professionals for whom writing, quite blatantly, need be little more than an appropriate means of earning a living.’ [44]

Julia Young is a particularly relevant case for bibliographic study, offering critics a greater understanding of the opportunities available to professional women writers in the Romantic period, as well as the restrictions placed upon them. Young’s literary career demonstrates the interplay of numerous factors required to attain commercial success in a highly competitive marketplace, involving both a dynamic appropriation of literary trends and negotiation with publishers and booksellers. As Cheryl Turner observes, financial difficulty was one of the few acceptable grounds for a woman writing commercially: ‘virtue in distress could succeed with public sympathy where references to ambition or entitlement would probably fail.’ [45] However, while literary professionalism had become more acceptable for women by the time Young was writing, it is clear that tolerance for female authors remained conditional.

. Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel: 100 Good Women Writers Before Jane Austen (London and New York: Pandora, 1986). For the entry on Mary Julia Young (MJY), see p. 137. While this book is a valuable resource for scholars of women’s writing in the Romantic period, it is perhaps unsurprising that it yielded no further study of MJY, given the number of inaccuracies in the entry. Rose-Mount Castle (1798) is incorrectly cited as Ragamount Castle (and dated 1799), Donalda (1805) as Donatan, and The Heir of Drumcondra (1810) as The Heir of Drumoindra.

2. These include E. J. Clery, The Rise of Supernatural Fiction, 1762–1800 (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), p. 108, and Michael Gamer, Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception and Canon Formation (Cambridge: CUP, 2000), p. 72.

3. The novel is available in a print-on-demand edition from the American publishing house Kessinger, Montana.

4. Archives of the Royal Literary Fund, 1790–1918, 145 reels (London: World Microfilms, 1982–83), Reel 6 (Case 216), letter dated 28 March 1808. All further references to MJY’s correspondence with the Royal Literary Fund are given parenthetically in the text as RLF, followed by the date of correspondence. Transcriptions of this correspondence are given in Section IV.

5. Cheryl Turner, Living by the Pen: Women Writers in the Eighteenth Century (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), p. 61.

6. This biographical information is mistakenly cited as that of Mary Julia Young in Janet Todd, A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660–1800 (London: Methuen, 1984), pp. 337–38. For a list of spurious works by Mary (Young) Sewell attributed to MJY, see Section II.

7. James E. May, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2004). The ODNB records Young’s success as an author, mentioning a number of his plays, among them Busiris, King of Egypt (1719), which was produced at Drury Lane, and the more successful The Revenge (1721), a variation of Othello. Between 1725 and 1728, Young published a series of satires called The Universal Passion, which influenced Pope’s own satirical works. Young published a number of Odes, followed by The Complaint; or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality in June 1742, which met with immediate success. Young continued to write until his death in April 1765, his last work being a poem called Resignation (1761, rptd and expanded 1762). Young had a son, Frederick, whom he refused to see for many years, but during his illness before his death sent a message of forgiveness, leaving him the majority of his property. Frederick Young does not appear to have been mentioned by MJY in any of her correspondence and the nature of her relationship to Edward Young remains undetermined.

8. For full details of MJY’s poetry, see the bibliographical entries in Section II.

9. Six of MJY’s sonnets from Poems (1798) are reproduced in A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival, 1750–1850, edited by Paula R. Feldman and Daniel Robinson (Oxford and New York: OUP, 1999), pp. 68–70.

10. For a full discussion of the relationship between the two poems, see Simon Bainbridge, British Poetry and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars: Visions of Conflict (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 23.

11. Ibid.

12. For full details of these translations, see the bibliographical entries in Section II.

13. MJY appears to have had a strong interest in theatre. Her memoir of Anna Maria Crouch includes a more general ‘Retrospect of the Stage, During the Years She Performed’ and in one anthology of poetry, MJY’s first work of poetry, Genius and Fancy; or, Dramatic Sketches (1791), is referred to as ‘a survey of the London stage’, British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology ed. Paula R. Feldman (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), p. 844. The dedication to Genius and Fancy is to ‘those, whose dramatic excellence suggested the following little poem’, Mary Julia Young, Genius and Fancy; or, Dramatic Sketches (London: H. D. Symonds and J. Gray, 1795), p. 1.

14. These include Catherine B. Burroughs, Women in British Romantic Theatre (Cambridge: CUP, 2000), p. 130, Catherine B. Burroughs, Closet Stages: Joanna Baillie and the Theater Theory of British Romantic Women Writers (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), p. 48 and Dror Wahrman, The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 337.

15. Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, 1790–1820 (London: Oxford University Press, 1939), p. 153.

16. See, for example, this extract from the second volume, where the narrator takes on a masculine persona and states: ‘Now as the writer of this history is not clear as to Mrs. St. John’s meaning—whether by the social ties she figures to herself and others, the restraints of a large party, or the regulating turn of her countenance, he would be obliged to any of his readers—that can assist his dulness [sic], and enable him to comprehend it— ’, The Family Party, 3 vols (London: William Lane, 1791), II, 19.

17. For a full reference to these quotations, see note 34.

18. Interestingly, while the majority of bibliographic sources relating to fiction of the period have attributed The Family Party to MJY, at least two critical sources on poetry cite an entirely different work—The Family Party; a Comic Piece, in Two Acts (1789)—as MJY’s first publication. See British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology, edited by Paula R. Feldman (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), p. 844, which cites this play as an example of MJY’s involvement in theatre, and Feldman and Robinson, Century of Sonnets, p. 68. The play can be identified in the British Library Public Catalogue as having gone to two editions, the first in London in 1789, the second in Dublin—printed for ‘P. Wogan, etc.’—in the same year. It is worth noting that the two critical sources identified have the same editor, so it is possible that this is a misattribution reproduced in both texts.

19. See Peter Garside, ‘Historical Introduction: The English Novel in the Romantic Era: Consolidation and Dispersal’, in 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), II, 15–103 (p. 56), in which he notes that the optimum years for the number of Gothic novels published were 1796–1806. All further references are to this edition.

20. The extent of this exploitation of popular titles meant that between 1800 and 1829 no less than sixteen titles appeared which had the word ‘Monk’ in the title; seventeen which included the word ‘Mystery’ or a variant; and twenty six which included the word ‘Abbey’.

21. Garside, ‘Consolidation and Dispersal’, p. 49.

22. Review of Rose-Mount Castle, in Critical Review, 24 (Dec 1798), 470. For transcriptions of reviews mentioned in this section, see the notes to the bibliographical entries in Section II.

23. Mary Julia Young, The East Indian, or, Clifford Priory, 4 vols (London: Earle and Hemet, 1799), II, 224. All further references are to this edition and are given parenthetically in the text.

24. Review of Moss Cliff Abbey, in Critical Review, 3rd ser. 1 (Jan 1804), 119.

25. See Garside, ‘Consolidation and Dispersal’, p. 43, for an account of the backlash against scandal fiction in the early 1810s.

26. Mary Julia Young, The Heir of Drumcondra; or, Family Pride, 3 vols (London: Minerva, 1810), I, 1. MJY’s dedication to Goldsmid echoes her sympathetic portrayal of a Jewish moneylender in The East-Indian (1799), which goes against contemporary anti-Semitic stereotypes, prefiguring the representation of Jewish characters in the novels of Edgeworth and Scott.

27. Garside, ‘Consolidation and Dispersal’, p. 43.

28. Turner, Living by the Pen, p. 86.

29. James Raven, ‘Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age’, in English Novel 1770–1829, I, 15–121 (p. 74).

30. Moss Cliff Abbey (1803) was available at 7 out of 19 possible circulating libraries, Right and Wrong (1803) at 5 out of 19, Donalda (1805) at 5 out of 19, Summer at Brighton (1807) at 13 out of 19, Summer at Weymouth (1808) at 6 out of 19 and The Heir of Drumcondra (1810) at 6 out of a possible 17. 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 <> [28 April 2008].

31. See Table 12: ‘Leading London Novel Publishers, 1770–1799, by Publication of New Prose Fiction Titles’, in Raven, ‘The Novel Comes of Age’, p. 73, and Tables 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3, which show primary publishers 1800–1829, in Garside, ‘Consolidation and Dispersal’, pp. 83–84.

32. Turner, Living by the Pen, p. 94.

33. Peter Garside, ‘J. F. Hughes and the Publication of Popular Fiction, 1803–1810’, The Library, 9 (1987), 240–58 (p. 244). All further references are to this edition.

34. See Rose-Mount Castle, 3 vols (London: Minerva, 1798), I, 1, in which MJY writes in the Dedication that she ‘can boast of being allied to the author of the Night Thoughts’; the epigraph of vol. 3 of Moss Cliff Abbey, 4 vols (London: Crosby and Hughes, 1803); the epigraph of vol. 3 in Right and Wrong, 4 vols (London: Crosby and Hughes, 1803); A Summer at Weymouth, 3 vols (London: J. F. Hughes, 1808), III, 169, and Heir of Drumcondra, I, 186.

35. Garside, ‘Hughes and Popular Fiction’, p. 244.

36. See the review of A Summer at Brighton, Monthly Magazine, 22 (25 Jan 1807), 643, where the novel is referred to with the title A Summer at Brighton: Being a Continuation of the Winter in London.

37. Peter Garside, ‘Hughes and Popular Fiction’, p. 252.

38. The fact that A Summer in Brighton appears to have been MJY’s most notably marketed novel, being advertised three times in The Morning Chronicle between 13 Jan 1807 and 12 Sep 1807, may also support this possibility.

39. From Mary Julia Young, Poems (London: Minerva, 1798). For transcriptions of representative samples of MJY’s poetry, see Section VI.

40. Review of Right and Wrong, Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, Vol 19 (December 1804), 424–29, (p. 424). All further references are given parenthetically in the text as AJR, followed by the page number.

41. Review of Moss Cliff Abbey, Monthly Magazine, 17 (1804), 667. See also the review of Right and Wrong, Critical Review, 3rd ser. 3 (December 1804), 470, which declares the plot to be ‘not wholly without interest’.

42. This is something of which MJY herself was painfully aware, referring to ‘the numerous typographical errors’ that appear in her novels in her application to the RLF. She appears to have had an almost complete lack of control over her work, being forced to send it sheet by sheet to the press ‘without time even to reperuse them’ (RLF, 28 March, 1808).

43. Review of A Summer at Brighton, Monthly Magazine, 22 (25 January 1807), 643.

44. Cheryl Turner, Living by the Pen, p. 101.

45. Ibid., p. 57.


Bibliography of Mary Julia Young’s Work

Below is included all of Mary Julia Young’s original fiction, as recorded in condensed form (this report includes additional notes and transcriptions of reviews) in The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Fiction Published in the British Isles, edited by Peter Garside, James Raven and Rainer Schöwerling, 2 vols (Oxford: OUP, 2000). Works of non-fiction, translations, and any spurious works attributed to Mary Julia Young are also included. All of the entries have been viewed directly from the Corvey Microfiche Edition (CME) where possible and, for all other cases, copies have been viewed at the British Library.

The entries are arranged in chronological order within each section, first listing the date of publication, then the author’s name, with any parts of the name not given on the title page being recorded in square brackets or in curly braces if portions of the name have appeared elsewhere in the work. The following line of the entry provides a transcription of the title page, with the omission of any epigraphs, volume specific details, and the publisher’s imprint (which appears in the following line). Each entry subsequently records pagination, format and, where possible, the price of the work (with the source of this information in brackets). The next line provides library details of the copy examined, followed by catalogue entries for the works as given in the English Catalogue of Books, the Eighteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue for works up to 1800 or the Nineteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue for works 1801–1870, and the OCLC WorldCat database. When the entry does not appear in one of these last two sources, this is denoted by a preceding ‘x’. The final component of each entry consists of any notes of interest and transcriptions of reviews of the work (with sources of notes provided where necessary).


adv(s). advertisement(s)
Blakey Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, 1790–1820 (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1939)
BL British Library
BLPC British Library Public Catalogue (online)
BN Catalogue of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
C&K R. S. Crane and F. B. Kaye, A Census of British Newspapers and Periodicals 1620–1800 (1927; London: Holland Press, 1966)
CME Corvey Microfiche Edition
CR Critical Review (C&K, 156)
ECB R. A. Peddie and Quintin Waddington (eds), The English Catalogue of Books 1801–1836 (1939; New York: Kraus Reprints, 1968)
EN The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Fiction Published in the British Isles, edited by Peter Garside, James Raven and Rainer Schöwerling, 2 vols (Oxford: OUP, 2000)
EngR English Review (C&K, 213)
ER Edinburgh Review, 510 vols (1802–1929)
ESTC Eighteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue on CD-ROM (London: British Library, 1992)
ME Monthly Epitome (C&K, 571)
Min Prospectus of the Minerva Library (1798) reproduced as Appendix IV in Blakey
MJY Mary Julia Young
n.d. no date
n.s. new series
NSTC Nineteenth-Century Short-Title Catalogue on CD-ROM (Newcastle, 1996)
NUC National Union Catalog
OCLC Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) WorldCat Database
RLF Royal Literary Fund / Archives of the Royal Literary Fund
ser. series
Summers Montague Summers, A Gothic Bibliography ([1940]; London: Fortune Press, 1969)
t.p. title page
trans. translator
trans. translation
unn. unnumbered
ViU University of Virginia

A. Mary Julia Young’s Original Fiction, 1798–1810

YOUNG, M{ary} J{ulia}.

London: Printed at the Minerva Press, for William Lane, Leadenhall-Street, 1798.

I 259p; II 278p; III 278p. 12º. 10s 6d boards (CR); 10s 6d sewed (Min).

CME 3-628-45219-8; ESTC n013327; xOCLC.

Notes. Dedication to Mrs Trant (pp. 1–3), signed Mary Julia Young, in which she humbly writes that ‘though I can boast of being allied to the author of the Night Thoughts, a very small portion of his talents have descended to me.’ 1p. advs end vol. 1; 1p. advs end vol. 2; 2pp. advs end vol. 3. Chs 16 and 17 of vol. 3 mistakenly numbered 15 and 16.

Critical Review, n.s. 24 (Dec 1798), 470: ‘We cannot recommend this work either for entertainment or instruction. It is almost destitute of fable or of any excitement to curiosity, if we accept the introduction of a gang of Irish defenders, who rob and murder in a very sentimental style, and one of whom becomes afterwards a personage of high consequence in the groupe [sic] of lords and dukes, having relinquished his youthful error. Many characters are introduced, and coupled in love-matches, all which prove abundantly prosperous; but there are no traits in their history so interesting as to compensate their vapid and common-place conversation, which occupies the greater part of the work.’

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed for Earle and Hemet, No. 47 Albermarle-Street, Piccadilly, by John Nichols, Red-Lion-Passage, Fleet-Street. Sold also by T. Hurst, No. 32. Paternoster Row, 1799.

I iii, 304p; II 292p; III 277p; IV 278p. 12º. 16s (ME).

CME 3-628-45214-7; ESTC t118949; OCLC 30878314.

Notes. Dedication to the Countess of Derby p.iii signed ‘The Author’. Ch. 8 of vol. 2 mistakenly numbered 6.

Further edn: Dublin 1800 (ESTC n001223; OCLC 13323777).

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed by W. S. Betham, Furnival’s-Inn-Court, Holburn, for B. Crosby and Co., Stationer’s Court, Ludgate-Hill; and J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, 1803.

I 198p; II 215p; III 196p; IV 216p. 12º. 12s boards (CR).

CME 3-628-48993-8; ECB 654; xNSTC; xOCLC.

Notes. Imprint in vol. 2: ‘London: Printed by W. S. Betham, Furnival’s-Inn-Court, Holborn, for B. Crosby and Co. Stationer’s Court, Ludgate-Hill; J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street; and C. Fourdrinier, Charing Cross, 1803’. Imprint in vol. 3: ‘London: Printed by D. N. Shury, Berwick-Street, Soho, for B. Crosby and Co. Stationer’s Court, Ludgate Hill; and J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, 1803’. Imprint in vol. 4: ‘London: Printed by D. N. Shury, Berwick-Street, Soho; for B. Crosby and Co. Stationer’s Court, Ludgate Hill; and J. F. Hughes, Wigmore-Street, 1803’. Ch. 11 of vol. 1 mistakenly numbered 9.Critical Review, 3rd ser. 1 (Jan 1804), 119: ‘In the days of Curl, a “taking title” was as fashionable as at present; and we augur well of the success of the Sepulchral Harmonist, in these days when ghosts and mysteries are so fashionable. The novel, though abounding with events scarcely within the verge of probability, is interesting, from its frequent and sudden changes of fortune: the characters, however, are in no respect new, and merely captivate from their situation; and, while we “incredulously hate” the unexpected alternations of misery and happiness, disapprobation vanishes, in our eagerness to follow the events.—We have laughed a little at the ghost of an opera tune; but this is the ghost of an elegy; and the poetry is wild and “full of fantasy,” well adapted to the situation. The Booth and Amelia of Fielding seem to have been in Miss Young’s view, when she sketched George and Harriet Newton.’

Monthly Magazine, 17 (1804), 667:Moss Cliff Abbey; or the Sepulchral Harmonist, is a novel by Miss Young: the incidents are not very probable, nor are the characters very natural. The story is, nevertheless, not to be read without interest.’

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed by D. N. Shury, Berwick Street; for Crosby and Co., Stationers’ Court; and Hughes, Wigmore Street, 1803.

I 232p; II 228p; III 201p; IV 242p. 12º. 12s boards (CR); 14s (ECB).

CME 3-628-48995-4; ECB 654; NSTC Y236; OCLC 13323844.

Notes. MJY features as ‘author of The Kinsmen of Naples’ in both Lindorf and Caroline (1803) and Moss Cliff Abbey (1803), though a copy with this section of the title page appearing first has not been discovered. Summers (p. 380) states that Hughes advertised The Kinsmen of Naples, 2nd edn of 1808, but again no such edition has been located (EN2). Dedication to G. E. A. Wright, Esq.

Critical Review, 3rd ser. 3 (Dec 1804), 470: ‘These “kinsmen” are the Tom Jones and Blifil of Naples; the former without his libertinism, and the latter with the perfidy and cruelty of a dæmon. The characters are well supported, and the story not wholly without interest. The dénoûment [sic], however, is highly improbable, and of course leaves an unpleasing impression.’

Anti-Jacobin Review, 19 (Dec 1804), 424–29: ‘Whether this fair lady be maid or matron, we are wholly ignorant; for we do not remember to have ever heard of her name before, although her pen appears to have been sufficiently prolific. Beside the publications enumerated in the present title page, she announces herself, at the end of the work, as the translator of “Lindorf and Caroline, or the Dangers of Credulity, a Cabalistical Romance, in three Volumes, from the German of Professor Kramer;” and of “Leonora, or Love and Fortitude, a Tale of Distress, in three Volumes, from the French of M. Berthier.” Having never seen any of these numerous productions, we can judge of her qualifications to instruct and amuse the public only from that now before us; and, un-gallant as the declaration may seem, we must frankly confess that we do not feel ourselves warranted to rate them very high. […]
‘In this novel there are several inferior characters; but none of them are very strongly marked. The best delineated are those of Corinna l’Abandoni, a rich, and not unfeeling, demi-rep; of Lucentio, the profligate and faithful old soldier, who emulates every virtue of his master Duvalvin. The fair author has, likewise, been pretty successful in drawing an honest Hibernian sailor, in the person of Captain Morton. The other characters are merely ciphers.
‘As this lady translates from German and French, we hope that she understands these languages; for we cannot, with justice, compliment her on the accuracy with which she writes her own. Some of the blunders which we have observed may be errors of the press; but many of them are such as can be accounted for from ignorance alone. Be is repeatedly put for is. Thus Vol. II p. 57. “With my sword I will answer any one whom it be not a disgrace to fight.” Vol. IV. p. 81. “When you find that Lord Glynvale be, in every respect, as amiable as Mr Fitz Alvin.” P. 123 “See what it be now,” &c. The same part of the verb is employed for are. “Unworthy as you be.” Vol. I. p. 28. Were perpetually occurs for was. “Those with whom he were acquainted.” Vol. I. p. 137. “Particularly now that he were a little elevated.” Vol. II. p. 42, &c. &c. She has taken the liberty to coin some new words, which her authority, we fear, will not be sufficient to render legitimate. Thus we have “to gloom his features,” (Vol. II. p. 17) “to gloom his youthful brow,” (p. 71) and “to gloom the serene mind of Duvalvin,” (III. 148.) In her last volume almost every thing is frenzied. We have frenzied manner (p. 110), frenzied look (p. 119), the frenzied Wynfride (p. 121), frenzied exclamations (p. 133) and frenzied deeds (p. 151.) She does not seem to have entered deeply into the study of English grammar, which, to own truth, she very frequently transgresses. Thus in Vol. I. p. 71 she writes: “If they had condescended to have heard you, they would be sensible of your merit.” Again: “My little musician, who I will introduce” (p. 81.) So. II. 136. “to quit whoever he belonged to;” P. 137. “one who, at first sight, she both admired and loved,” and IV. 233, “a handsome young man, who the Signora could not behold with indifference. Lastly, in Vol. IV, p. 156, “Duvalvin acquiesced to the Doctor’s opinion.”
‘This fair lady, as appears from her title-page, has published a volume of Poems. But if we may be allowed to judge from a specimen inserted in the present work, her poetry is nearly on a par with her prose. This specimen is intituled [sic], “Leontine and Clarabel, a Tale of Wonder.” A most doleful tale, to be sure it is; as how Sir Leontine proved false in love; as how Clarabel, as was sitting, in consequence died; as how her pale ghost, in a stormy night, came to his bedside, to summon him to another world; and as how the poor Knight was obliged to comply. The fair poet, with great composure, suits the pronunciation of her words to the structure of her line. Her lovers are sometimes Léontine and Clàrabel; sometimes Leontíne and Clarabél. The following stanza contains one of those hard words, with which ladies should not meddle, as they cannot be supposed to have studied Latin prosody. The description is that of a “dark fiend,” who was eager to run away with Sir Leontine.
“Tho’ still on the castle’s high tower he stands,
His torch and his scorpions have dropp’d from his hands;
He folds his black wings round his head in despair,
And their bitumen feeds the foul snakes in his hair.”
‘[…] If Mary Julia Young had employed her pen on any other subject, we should certainly have taken the liberty to complain of the very small quantity of letter-press which she has given us for our money. But, if the public are content to throw away twenty shillings for four such volumes as these, they have themselves alone to blame.’

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed by D. N. Shury, No. 7, Berwick Street, Soho; for J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, 1805.

I 288p; II 315p. 12º. 13s (ECB); 10s (ER).

CME 3-628-48991-1; ECB 653; xNSTC; xOCLC.

Notes. 1p. advs end vol. 2.

Further edn: [1843] (NSTC 2Y2017).

[YOUNG, Mary Julia].

London: Printed by D. N. Shury, Berwick Street, Soho, for J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, 1807.

I 256p; II 246p; III 246p. 12º. 13s 6d (ECB).

BL 1261.bbb.6; CME 3-628-48731-5; ECB 569; NSTC Y231; xOCLC.

Notes. ECB dates Dec 1806 (EN2). 2pp. advs. end vol. 2. T.p. to vol. 3 carries the words ‘Second Edition’. Ch. 4 of vol. 2 mistakenly numbered 3. Examination of the 2nd edn in CME shows it to be identical to BL 1261.bbb.6.

Further edns: 2nd edn 1807 (Corvey), CME 3-628-48731-5; 3rd edn 1807, with additional 4th vol. containing The Story of Modern Laïs (NUC), 4th edn 1807 (NSTC); 5th edn 1808 (NSTC).

Monthly Magazine, 22 (25 Jan 1807), 643: ‘The great success and unprecedented sale of Mr. SURR’S “Winter in London” has induced some ingenious gentleman, or perhaps lady, to publish a novel under the title of “A Summer at Brighton: being a Continuation of the Winter in London.” The trade of continuations is as old as the time of Richardson and Fielding; when the Grub-street manufacturers of their day imputed upon the curiosity of the town “Pamela in High Life,” and “Tom Jones in the Married State.” The continuation of a successful work is always a dangerous (and in our opinion) a mean expedient, even when attempted by the original author; but when, as in the present case, a most contemptible production, by some anonymous scribbler, is announced in such a manner as to induce an opinion that it is the work of a popular writer, we consider it in the light of a double fraud: it is picking the pockets of the public, and robbing the author of his reputation.’

[YOUNG, Mary Julia].

London: Printed for J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square, 1808.

I 264p; II 250p; III 250p. 12º. 15s (ECB, ER).

CME 3-628-48732-3; ECB 569; xNSTC; xOCLC.

Notes. ECB dates Nov 1807. 2pp. advs end vol. 3. Imprint in vol. 1: ‘Printed for J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square’. Colophon in vol. 1: ‘T. Wallis, Printer, Little Coram Street’. Imprint in vol. 2: ‘G. Sidney, Printer, Northumberland-Street, Strand’. Colophon in vol. 2: ‘T. Wallis, Printer, Little Coram Street’. Imprint and colophon in vol. 3: ‘G. Sidney, Printer, Northumberland-Street, Strand’.

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed at the Minerva-Press, for A. K. Newman and Co. (Successors to Lane, Newman, & Co.) Leadenhall-Street, 1810.

I 224p; II 217p; III 255p. 12º. 15s (ECB).

CME 3-628-48992-X; ECB 653; NSTC Y237; xOCLC.

Notes. ECB dates May 1810. Dedication to Abraham Goldsmid, in which Young writes that he ‘nobly supports the eminent character of a British Merchant; and renders himself an honour to this glorious land of commerce’. Colophon in vol. 3 reads ‘Laine, Darling, and Co. Leadenhall-Street.’ 1p. advs of the works of Mary Julia Young end vol. 3. Last page of vol. 2 mistakenly numbered 241.

B. Mary Julia Young’s Non-Fiction

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed by J. P. Coghlan, No. 37, Duke-Street, Grosvenor-Square; and sold by Messrs. J. Debrett, Piccadilly; Booker, Bond-Street; Keating, Warwick-Street; Lewis, Russell-Street, and Robinsons, Pater-noster Row, 1793.

14p. 4º. 1s (t.p.).

BL 11641.g.45; ESTC t126028; OCLC 15432815.

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Sold by H. D. Symonds, Paternoster-Row; W. Lee, New-Street, Covent-Garden; and J. Gray, Glasshouse-Street, 1795.

48p. 4º.

BL 11630.e.18(4.); ESTC t040710; xOCLC.

Notes. While the BLPC describes earlier edition (dated 1791 by ESTC [t040709] and OCLC [37801887]), containing as MS letter by the author, correspondence with BL indicates this to be missing. There is consequently no entry for the 1791 edition. Dedication to ‘those, whose dramatic excellence suggested the following little poem’, signed ‘The Author’.

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed at the Minerva Press, for William Lane, Leadenhall Street, 1798.

172p. 8º.

BL 11644.bbb.32; ESTC t078087; OCLC 48922790.

Notes. Published in 1801 as The Metrical Museum. Part I.

YOUNG, Mary Julia.

London: Printed for J. Fisher, n.d. [1801].

98p. 12º.

BL 11644.bbb.14; NSTC Y235; xOCLC.

Notes. Frontispiece of Venus and a cherub, with inscription that reads: ‘Published March. 1. 1801. by G. R. Clarke, Tavern Street, Ipswich’. The catchword ‘Autumn’ in bold print on p. 98 denotes an imperfect edn. This edn is a reprinted version of Poems, which shows the poem ‘Autumn, a Rural Sketch’ on the following page.

YOUNG M[ary] J[ulia].

London: Printed for James Asperne, at the Bible, Crown, and Constitution, Cornhill, 1806.

I 284p, ill.; II 328p. 12º.

BL 641.b.21; NSTC Y233; OCLC 2279457.

Notes. Dedication ‘To the Reader’, 2pp. unn.

C. Translations by Mary Julia Young

[NAUBERT, Christiane Benedicte Eugenie]; YOUNG, Mary Julia (trans.).

London: Printed for B. Crosby and Co. Stationers’-Court, Ludgate-Street, by W. S. Betham, Furnival’s-Inn-Court, Holborn, 1803.

I vi, 221p; II 228p; III 247p. 12º. 10s 6d (ECB).

ViU PZ2.N38Li.1803; ECB 325; xNSTC; OCLC 6958874.

Notes. Trans. of Lindorf und Caroline but no such German original discovered. BN lists French trans. Lindorf et Caroline; ou les dangers de la crédulité, traduit de l’auteur d’Hermann d’Unna (Paris, 1802). Dedication to Viscountess Wentworth, by ‘the Translator.’ 1 leaf [2 pp.] advs following Dedication, before start of novel (8 titles). ECB dates Mar 1803 (EN2).

[BERTHIER, J. B. C.]; YOUNG, Mary Julia (trans.).

London: Printed by R. Exton, Great-Portland-Street; for J. F. Hughes, Wigmore-Street, Cavendish-Square, 1804.

I 261p; II 226p; III 218p. 12º.

CME 3-628-48994-6; NSTC Y234; xOCLC.

Notes. Trans. of Felix et Éléonore, ou les colons malhereux (Paris, 1801). MJY states that The Mother and Daughter is a translation from Berthier in a letter to the RLF committee (28 Mar 1808; RLF, Reel 6, Case No. 216). While such an origin is not mentioned on the t.p. and there are no preliminaries, MJY’s narrative describes a journey to the Americas from France in 1789 and has Felix and Eleonora as key characters. The source title above is listed in BN, and is the only work given there by the author (EN2).

VOLTAIRE (pseud.) [AROUET, François-Marie]; YOUNG, Mary Julia (trans.).

London: Printed by D. N. Shury, No. 7, Berwick Street, Soho; For J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, Cavendish Sqaure, 1805.

I 230p; II 260p; III 255p; IV 255p. 12º.

BL RB.23.a.1288.8; NSTC Y232; OCLC 14170685.

Notes. Frontispiece portrait of Voltaire with the inscription ‘Published by J. F. Hughes, Wigmore Street, 1805’. 1p. advs. end vol. 4.

D. Spurious Works Attributed To Mary Julia Young

Below are listed spurious works attributed to MJY. Bibliographical details have not been recorded, except in the case of The Family Party.

[YOUNG, Mary].

London: Printed for J. Robson, 1777.

BL 164.n.64; ESTC t036666; OCLC 11644717.

Notes. Attributed to MJY by ESTC and OCLC.

Further edn. 1788 (ESTC, OCLC).


London: Printed for J. Evans; and sold by T. Hookham; and T. Lake, Uxbridge, 1790.

BL 11641.g.46; ESTC t078082; OCLC 11644726.

Notes. Attributed to MJY by OCLC.

[?YOUNG, Mary Julia]

London: Printed at the Minerva, for William Lane, Leadenhall Street, 1791.

I 191p; II 171p; III 177p. 12º. 7s 6d (EngR); 9s (EN1).

BL 12614.b.33; ESTC t076788; xOCLC.

Notes. Attributed to MJY by EN1, ESTC, and OCLC. All entries refer to Blakey, in which she states that the title is attributed to MJY ‘by a Minerva Library Catalogue 1814’ (p.153). However, examination of Minerva catalogues for 1814 reveals an entry for ‘The Family Party, 3 vol., 9s.’, but no attribution to MJY. Not included in the list of her claimed works in letter to RLF, 28 March 1808 (RLF, Reel 6, Case 216). 1p. advs end vol. 1; 1p. advs end vol. 2; 3pp. advs end vol.3. Duplication of pp. 169–177 in copy examined.


Plot Synopses of Mary Julia Young’s Original Fiction*

*While The Family Party is likely to be a spurious attribution, a plot synopsis is included at the end of this section for the purposes of completeness.

Rose-Mount Castle; or, False Report (1798)

Despite its seemingly Gothic title, Rose-Mount Castle is largely sentimental and features numerous plot devices common to the novel of sensibility. The French protagonist, Villiers De Roufillon, finds himself shipwrecked on coast of Ireland. His father has been murdered in France and De Roufillon, having avenged the murder, went into hiding before setting out for Ireland to find his sister Phillipine, who lives with their aunt and uncle—Lord and Lady Claranbridge—at Rose-Mount Castle. Before reaching the castle Villiers meets Louisa, with whom he had fallen in love while she was living with the De Roufillons after the death of her mother. She is delighted to find him alive, but Villiers is despondent about the change in circumstances resulting from his father’s death, for his lack of money means that they cannot marry. On being reunited with Phillipine, Villiers discovers that she is in a similar predicament. She is in love with Mr Fitzroy, who is working as a lawyer in England, but Lord Claranbridge will not consent to the marriage because Fitzroy is neither titled nor wealthy. Lord Claranbridge proposes a marriage between Villiers and Camira Clonwell, the daughter of the wealthy Lord Clonwell. Both Phillipine and Villiers are reluctant to disoblige their uncle by marrying against his wishes.
Meanwhile, Louisa is kidnapped after being lured into the forest on the pretence of visiting a sick elderly couple. When the carriage overturns, she is restored to safety by a passing group of gentlemen, and it transpires that Sir Dennis Malone, a wealthy suitor of Louisa, had engineered her kidnap in order to rescue her and win her affection. He repents his behaviour and begins to drink heavily, revealing that he was married seven years ago, but that his wife and son had died. Shortly afterwards, a young boy appears in the grounds of Rose-Mount Castle, distressed and seeking help because he and his mother have been shipwrecked on the nearby coast. Sir Dennis rushes to assist and discovers that his wife Eliza is on board the ship and that the boy is his son. It becomes apparent that Sir Dennis and Eliza ‘have been so long separated by false report’ (III, 123); Eliza’s brother had engineered a report of the deaths of his sister and nephew, as he had lost all his money through gambling and could not afford to pay Sir Dennis the money owing from their marriage settlement. Meanwhile, Lord Claranbridge entreats Phillipine to marry Lord Benwall. When she refuses Lord Claranbridge becomes angry and berates her, causing her to fall into a fit. The severity of her subsequent illness precipitates his repentance and he consents to a marriage between Phillipine and Fitzroy. Louisa saves Villiers’s life in a duel between him and Lord Clashmere, and is accidentally shot. When she recovers, Lord Claranbridge realises the selfish nature of his ambitions for Villiers’s marriage and the novel ends in the joint wedding ceremony of Phillipine and Fitzroy and Villiers and Louisa.

The East Indian; or, Clifford Priory (1799)

MJY’s second novel fuses a focus on fashionable London society with various tropes of Gothic fiction. The first volume is set in London, where the heroine Elinor Clifford is faced with a choice between three suitors: Lord Felgrove, Sir Clement Darnley and Colonel Gayton. She loves Sir Clement Darnley, but he is unable to marry for another two years as a result of a clause in his father’s will. Elinor’s father, Mr Clifford, is involved in politics and, losing an important election, contracts numerous debts. He subsequently falls ill and dies, stating in his will that Elinor must go to live with her uncle Sir Gervais Clifford at Clifford Priory until she is married. Elinor finds Clifford Priory to be a gloomy, gothic building where the servants are terrified by rumours of supernatural happenings. Elinor cannot help being afraid and, discovering a hidden passage in the grounds, believes she hears a ghostly voice and faints. This is followed by a number of mysterious incidents, all of which are resolved by rational explanation, like the ‘pale, shrouded forms’ (IV, 114) that are actually statues and the suspicious locked room that contains wax effigies of Sir Clifford’s dead wife and daughter. She finds a skeleton in the dress of a monk behind a black curtain in the vault of the chapel, and discovers the legend of the monk of St. Augustin. Elinor has remained in contact with Sir Clement Darnley, who is in Europe, but becomes worried when his letters cease and she reads a newspaper report of a massacre of English men by the French in the town from which Sir Clement’s last letter was sent. The death of Sir Gervais Clifford brings Elinor into possession of his estate, and she takes the opportunity to distribute her wealth benevolently. Just as Elinor vows to go to Europe in search of Sir Clement he arrives at Clifford Priory, recounting his imprisonment in Italy and the long journey back to England. Sir Clement discovers a letter from his father stating the clause in his will may be annulled in the case of a prudent attachment and the novel ends with his marriage to Elinor.

Moss Cliff Abbey; or, the Sepulchral Harmonist (1803)

Moss Cliff Abbey is a pastiche of Gothic tropes, sentimental novelistic devices and commentary on the vices of fashionable society. Mr and Mrs Newton are happily married, although Mr Newton’s parents left him no inheritance so they have little income. When Mr Newton does not return home one night, Mrs Newton is extremely worried, fearing that he has been forced onto a ship by a press gang. A man named Mr Ormsley visits her and declares that he will have advertisements placed in every newspaper in order to locate her husband, and will offer a reward for any information. While Mrs Newton attempts to go into London to find work, she faints and is revived by Sir Sedley Freelove, who visits her the following day to enquire after her health. Mr Ormsley calls while he is there, and Sir Sedley warns Mrs Newton of Ormsley’s reputation as a libertine. Mrs Newton’s financial situation begins to deteriorate and she is delighted when a woman named Lady Melvern calls on her after hearing her story in the press offering her accommodation and financial assistance. Shortly afterwards, Mrs Newman travels to Melvern House, only to find Ormsley in her chamber that night. He reveals that Lady Melvern’s true identity is Mrs. Lurewell and admits that he has engineered the kidnap of her husband as a result of his love for Mrs Newton, which began before she was married. A fire breaks out at Melvern House and Ormsley becomes delirious.
The surgeon who attends to him offers Mrs Newton accommodation in the ruins of Moss Cliff Abbey. He relates to her the history of the owners of the Abbey, the Selwyns. Henry Selwyn married against his father’s will; he was required to spend time in Barbados on business, during which he received the news of the death of his wife and child, and has not been heard of since. One night Mrs Newton takes a walk in the grounds of the Abbey and hears a mysterious, harmonious voice in song and sees a white robed figure kneeling at the altar of the chapel. She continues to hear the ‘sepulchral harmonist’ on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, Ormsley recovers from his illness and seizes her from her bed before conveying her to the chapel. The mysterious singing echoes around the chapel and, in the confusion, Ormsley is accidentally shot by his servant. He recovers and attempts to pursue Mrs Newton on one more occasion, armed with a gun, in order to end their lives together, but only his life is lost.
As the narrative draws to a close, Mrs Newton’s husband returns, having been rescued by one of the servants of the Abbey that had gone away to sea. He had been imprisoned in the same cell as Henry Selwyn, with whom he has returned, and it is revealed that the ‘sepulchral harmonist’ is in fact Henry’s wife, Isabella. They had invented the report of her death because of Mr Selwyn’s disapproval of his son’s marriage. Henry’s father had been influenced by his son Marmaduke, who had intercepted Henry’s letters from prison to conceal his whereabouts. When Mr Selwyn discovers the truth, he begs Isabella for her forgiveness and accepts her as his daughter. Mr Newton discovers that he was mistaken in his belief that his parents left him no inheritance and the Newtons become financially stable, developing a close friendship with Henry and Isabella.

Right and Wrong; or, the Kinsmen of Naples (1803)

The novel begins by introducing Lorenzo di Rozezzi and Frederic Duvalvin, the orphans of the two sisters of the Conté Pliantini, who live with their Aunt and Uncle. Duvalvin’s birth is surrounded by an element of mystery and the Conté refuses to provide him with any information regarding his origins. Frederic is benevolent and caring, while his cousin Lorenzo is profoundly jealous of him and the fact that he is favoured by the Marchesa del Urbino, whom he loves. He introduces Frederic to Corinna L’Abandoni in the hope of damaging his reputation but Frederic is not seduced by her coquettish charms; instead he opens her heart to benevolence and good. Lorenzo makes an unsuccessful attempt to stab Frederic and subsequently lures him to the Castella della Balza, under the pretence of investigating rumours of the supernatural. He drugs Frederico, who wakes in a dungeon containing a number of decaying corpses. He manages to escape and, after finding a small boat, is eventually picked up by an English ship. The Doctor on the ship advises him go to Sir Llewellyn Llanmere, a Welsh Baronet of his acquaintance. Frederic, using the name of Fitz-Alvin, is taken in by the Baronet and becomes attached to his daughter, Lady Llewella Llanmere. Lady Llewella is destined to marry her cousin—the son of her mother’s brother—in accordance with her mother’s dying wish. It transpires that her uncle had married a foreign lady who bore him a son. This son turns out to be Lorenzo di Rozezzi who, on his arrival with Lord Rhyndore, Lady Ella’s Uncle, sees Frederic and stabs himself. He recovers and reveals that Frederic is the true Lord Glynvale, for the foreign lady Lord Rhyndore married was in fact Frederic’s mother, not Lorenzo’s. Frederic and Lady Llewella are therefore free to marry, and Lorenzo repents his earlier behaviour and marries Lady Wynfrida Penrhys.

Donalda; or, the Witches of Glenshiel (1805)

This ‘Caledonian tale’ charts the fate of the Donalda, a female heroine whose origins are shrouded in mystery, drawing on the legend of Macbeth and incorporating elements of the supernatural and the sentimental. Donalda has been brought up by Lord Roderic and Lady Margaret, but has no knowledge of her own family history. Lady Margaret is found dead and, on the day of her funeral, Donalda is visited by a group of witches who inform her that Lady Margaret has been murdered by Lord Roderic in order for him to obtain a younger wife. Donalda faints and when she wakes witnesses Roderic attacking an unarmed youth in the grounds of the castle. Finding the youth still alive, she brings him back to the tower and realises that he is Lord Duncan of Lochaber, who had had his marriage proposal to Donalda refused by Lord Roderic. Donalda resolves to conceal Duncan while he recovers and they decide to disguise themselves as pilgrims and escape to England. Meanwhile, Donalda attends a banquet where Lord Roderic believes he is visited by the ghost of Lady Margaret. He subsequently finds himself haunted by visions and visitations from the witches. Donalda’s servant tells her the intriguing story of Malcolm, whose wife died two years before Malcolm overcame Macbeth, leaving a daughter named Princess Malcoma. Donalda begins planning her escape to England when the witches arrive, warning her not to carry out her plans and to remain in Scotland. Donalda begins to consider the mystery of her birth and wonders if she is of royal descent, hoping that she is not the daughter of Macbeth.
Lord Roderic reveals that he wishes to marry Donalda, leaving her greatly shocked. She is compelled to discover the mystery of her birth and confronts Lord Roderic. She asks him if he killed her father, and as he denies it, drops of blood appear on the tip of his dagger. Donalda invokes the witches and they confirm that Roderic was responsible for the death of her father, but as a result of Lady Margaret’s persuasion. Donalda is kidnapped by Roderic’s son Oswyn, who also wishes to marry her. Lord Roderic sets out to look for her and, when he locates them, fights Oswyn. They find themselves at Glenshiel Castle and are met by an old woman, who turns out to be Bruma, the witch of Etterick-Pen. She reveals to Donalda that her father was Lady Margaret’s brother and that he and her mother were killed by Margaret. She also informs Donalda that her father was the Earl of Glenshiel, meaning that she is the Countess of Glenshiel. King Malcolm arrives and it transpires that Donalda is in fact his granddaughter, her mother having been Princess Malcoma. She had been taken at birth by Lady Margaret with the intention of a marriage between Donalda and Oswyn. Duncan arrives at the castle, having had his fidelity to Donalda tested by the witches, and they are married immediately.

A Summer at Brighton (1807)

The first of MJY’s scandal novels fuses an exposé of fashionable vice with a domestic focus. Sisters Mrs Amelia Howard and Miss Sybella Woodland live at Beacon Priory. Their father, Sir Osborne Woodland, married after the death of their mother and had a son, Lord Orient, who was brought up by his grandfather, being indulged throughout his childhood and receiving little education. No will was found following the death of Sir Osborne, but Lord Orient allows his sisters to reside at Beacon Priory while Amelia’s husband, Colonel Howard, is in France with the Army. The two sisters are good friends with their neighbour Mr Selby, but are curious about his reluctance to discuss the origins of his birth. A wicker basket is discovered at the gates of Beacon Priory containing a baby and a note stating that he is Lord Orient’s son. The boy’s mother is Jessy Truelove, a girl from a nearby village, but she is taken ill and dies. Lord Orient is delighted with the child but, knowing that he must conceal his illegitimate son’s existence from his wife, plans for him to be secreted in a nearby cottage with Judith, a servant at the Priory.
His wife, Lady Orient, arrives at the Priory with Lords Belton and Vandash and a trip to Brighton is planned. Sybella receives a marriage proposal from the Marquis of Bettall but realises that she loves Mr Selby, while Lord Orient becomes uneasy about the growing attachment between his wife and the Duke of Elfinwood. Lord Vandash comes across Mrs Howard and Mr Selby visiting Lord Orient’s son at the cottage and, concluding that they have an illegitimate child together, informs Lady Orient, who harbours an intense dislike of both her husband’s sisters. When Colonel Howard arrives back in England Lady Orient arranges for him to overhear a conversation revealing the existence of his wife’s illegitimate child. He is shocked, but decides to confront her before rushing to any conclusions. He confronts Mr Selby, who is forced to disclose his true identity as the Earl of Belgrove and Colonel Howard’s brother who, having been deceived in love, vowed that his title and fortune should no longer be an attraction. When Lady Orient discovers that the child’s father is her husband she elopes with the Duke of Elfinwood. She is located and although Lord Orient says he cannot take her back, he decides that he will spare her the disgrace of a divorce and they arrange to live separately. The will of Sir Osborne Woodland is discovered, leaving each sister twenty thousand pounds. The novel concludes with the marriage of Sybella and the Earl of Belgrove.

A Summer at Weymouth; or The Star of Fashion (1808)

The second of MJY’s scandal novels provides an account of Stella, the young Countess of Grassmere and the ‘star of fashion’, as she negotiates the ‘Pride, Folly, Vanity, Scandal and Immodesty’ (I, 200) of fashionable society. Stella was orphaned in childhood and brought up by her uncle, Sir Edward Fitzalbion, and her guardian Mrs Moreland. She is soon to be presented at court but, before she enters fashionable society, Mrs Moreland advises her not to follow fashion but to become a leader of it. Stella visits London, attending the King’s birthday celebrations and meeting George Arrandale, an East Indian with a mysterious history. She becomes the victim of scandalous gossip when fashionable newspapers report that she has stolen the affection of George Arrandale from a rival beauty. She goes on to meet the aptly named Lord Splendermore, who has a penchant for gaudy clothing adorned with peacock feathers, the Countess of Everbloom, a middle-aged lady who wears clothing designed for a much younger woman, and Lady Frivola Airy, a coquettish and foolish fortune hunter.
Meanwhile, Stella finds that her long term friendship with Mr Elmsberry has begun to blossom into love. She attends a masquerade, where a man named Mr Russell remarks on the likeness between Arrandale and the Rajah of Cassumbazar, inviting him to call on him the following day. A duel is fought between the Earl of Everbloom and Mr Elmsberry, in which both men are injured. Arandale visits Mr Russell who tells him that, as he has no children of his own, he is seeking an heir and if Arrandale cannot find his own father he will make him his heir. The party travel to Weymouth, and discover two orphaned children, who are genteel in appearance and manners. Mr Russell is sympathetic to their plight and agrees to adopt them after hearing their story, only to discover that they are actually his niece and nephew. The Duke of Zephyrly proposes a marriage between Stella and his son but she refuses on account of her love for Mr Elmsberry. Friovla marries the Duke of Myrtlebank but continues her coquettish behaviour, constantly flirting with the rakish Colonel Hoaxer. The mystery of Arrandale’s birth is finally resolved, and he discovers that his father is Colonel Fitzalbion. He was also Stella’s father and it transpires that he had lived in India and married, moving back to England after his wife’s death before marrying Stella’s mother. Frivola elopes with Colonel Hoaxer, causing a scandal amongst Weymouth’s fashionable society, and plans to divorce her husband so that she may marry the Colonel. At the close of the novel, a date is fixed for the wedding of Stella and Mr Elmsberry.

The Heir of Drumcondra; or Family Pride (1810)

MJY’s final novel is representative of the more conservative domestic fiction that became popular in the 1810s, exhibiting a focus on the relationship between the gentry and the professional middling classes. The male protagonist Valentine Kennedy lives with his uncle, The Earl of Drumcondra, and is heir to his fortune and title. He meets a girl named Miss Collier and her Aunt on a ship to Ireland and, on returning to London, discovers that her father is a tallow merchant. It is important to the Earl that Valentine marries into money because he has lately lost a considerable amount as a result of the extravagance of his son, Lord Kennedy. He informs Valentine that he wishes him to marry Lady Susan Melmoth but, when they meet, Lady Susan reveals that she is already married. Meanwhile, Valentine has continued to visit Miss Collier and her father, who informs him that there is no certificate of death for the Earl’s brother and his uncle may be forced to resign his title. Valentine is pursued by Lady Richmore, a coquettish and wealthy widow, and his uncle entreats him to marry her. Soon afterwards, Mr Collier visits the Earl and informs him of the attachment between Valentine and his daughter. Valentine’s uncle is furious and forbids him to maintain any contact with the family. When Valentine refuses to marry Lady Richmore, his uncle asks him to leave his house.
Valentine enlists with the Navy, but becomes extremely ill before being located by Mr Collier and conveyed to his home. When he recovers, Mr Collier—who detests the idleness of the gentry—offers Valentine a job as a clerk in his company. Lord Kennedy’s death leaves his father with numerous debts and his financial situation becomes increasingly unstable. Lady Richmore has disgraced herself by entering into an affair with the married Duke of Aircastle, but the Earl of Drumcondra, desperate to relieve his financial obligations, decides to marry her. Mr Collier is angry that she will hold the title of Drumcondra and decides to reveal his true identity. He is the brother of Valentine’s father and the Earl of Drumcondra, who had been abroad and contacted smallpox, which drastically changed his appearance. When he returned to England, he did not wish for his children to be subject to flattery and false behaviour as a result of their wealth and titles and constructed a new identity for the family. The Earl of Drumcondra is wounded in a duel with the Conte Duperelli, who he discovers had killed his son, and before his death he repents, wishing Valentine happiness. The novel concludes with the marriage of Miss Collier, whose real identity is Lady Maria Kennedy, and Valentine, who plan to settle in his recently inherited Irish estate.

The Family Party (1791)

The novel opens as the widowed Mrs St John moves to London with her two daughters Olivia and Lydia to live with her brother and his three children after the death of his wife. Mrs St John is passionate about attending a debating club and while there one evening sees an unfamiliar and intriguing man. When attending a masquerade later that week, her niece Jessy falls into the hands of a libertine and is rescued by the same man, who introduces himself as Mr Jervais. He calls on them the following day to enquire after Jessy’s health. Mrs St John believes that he is infatuated with her, and discusses the beauty that she has retained from her youth. She continues to attend debates on topics such as ‘False education is […] as fatal to ladies as to gentlemen’ (II, 51) and the nature of a man ‘who allows himself to consider the woman he has married as a mere domestic animal, created alone to govern his house, obey his nod, and make him her best courtesy for the bread her daily industry intitles her to over and above the fortune she brought him’ (II, 55). Her daughter Olivia and her nephew Redman Lawrence laugh at her vanity and of the attachments that have been formed between Mr Jervais and Jessy and Olivia’s sister Lydia and Redman’s brother Dennis.
Meanwhile, Mrs St John entreats Mr Jervais to speak at the debating club on the merits of widows and the belief that they should remarry. He argues compassionately, leaving her even surer of his admiration for her. Olivia and Redman do not appear at breakfast one morning and are discovered to have eloped to Gretna Green. Mrs St John becomes ill and her health worsens when she learns of the attachment between Lydia and Dennis, because she wants her daughters to marry wealthy and titled men. Mr Jervais vows to open Jessy’s father’s heart to him by throwing his property into commerce and articling himself to a merchant.
When he meets him, Mr Lawrence mentions his friend whose son was to have been Jessy’s husband, declaring that he could never obtain accounts of the child’s death and that Mr Jervais is a ‘perfect picture’ (III, 96) of his friend. Mr Jervais reveals that Jervais is his Christian name, used only in connection with the debating club. His real name is Johnson and his father was a captain of a man of war. Mr Lawrence is delighted to have found the son of his friend, although he has no proof of his identity. Learning of Mr Jervais’s attachment to Jessy, Mrs St John agrees to marry Doctor Pimento, who has been attending to her throughout her illness. As the novel ends, a letter is discovered from Mr Jervais’s father, revealing his true identity as the son of Mr Lawrence’s friend. Dennis and Lydia and Jessy and Mr Jervais are married.


Transcriptions of Mary Julia Young’s Correspondence with The Royal Literary Fund

1. Letter of application to the Royal Literary Fund, dated 28 March 1808.

35 Oxford Street. March 28, 1808.

As Mr Rough is at present greatly occupied by professional affairs, on the Circuit, he has requested me to thank you, most gratefully, in his name and my own for the very kind attention you have paid to his solicitations in my behalf, and to give you the account of my publications which you require; of their number and titles I will inclose a list; of their value I am an incompetent judge, and by one part of your letter to Mr R I am fearful lest you Sir should condemn them all as worthless. Trembling therefore at the difficulty of obtaining your interest as a Novelist yet permit me to plead for myself before you withdraw from me your patronage.
Brought up under the immediate care of a sensible and virtuous mother who early taught me to discriminate between right and wrong, both in living characters and those in literary productions, I have strictly adhered to her excellent instructions in the works of fancy which I have written, and considering Novels as a species of literature sought after with avidity by the younger part of both sexes I have invariably, to the extent of my abilities, endeavoured to render the strictest observance of relative duties indispensible to amiable and sensible characters and to inculcate virtue, fortitude, and benevolence by the most encouraging examples; nor can I accuse myself of having written either in my original compositions or Translations “One line which, dying, I could wish to blot” on account of the slightest immoral tendency.
May I also plead that I have followed, although at an humble distance, the steps of many Males and Females whose names are respectable and whose talents are admired tho’ they have condescended to gather their wreaths of Fame from the flowery vales of Fiction.
But if all that I can say in defence of myself, as a voluminous scribbler in Prose and Rhyme, will have no effect, may I not have some claim to your patronage as the only surviving relative of Dr Edward Young, of Welwyn, who in almost all countries and by all sects is esteemed as one of the brightest ornaments of English Literature? May the respect due to his justly celebrated name induce you Sir to be the Advocate and Friend of his lonely kinswoman, who though born into two very large families is now the last of both, even the younger braches having all died in infancy, or in the prime of life except myself who have survived six brothers and twenty five cousins, which may certainly be deemed as remarkable, as it has been to me unfortunate. Dr Young honoured my father with his friendship and was Godfather to my eldest Brother, to whom he gave his own name, Edward. I have several letters in my possession, written by the sublime author of the Night Thoughts, which Mr Rough has seen.
You ask for my chef d’œuvre—Alas! My literary family can scarcely boast of one superior to the rest, if I am partial to one more than another I think it is Right and Wrong—but as they are all in the Circulating Libraries and have what the trade call a very fair reading, perhaps some Ladies of your acquaintance may have read a part of them and will pass their judgement.
Mr Shury of Berwick Street, a subscriber to the Literary Fund, has printed most of my books and given a favourable opinion of them, he also knows that my publisher became a Bankrupt when he was indebted to me above seventy pounds of which I have received only one dividend of about seven pounds, twelve months ago, and am told that no further payment can be made until debts arrive from abroad. Had that money been, according to my expectations, paid to the full I should not now Sir have had occasion to solicit your interception in my behalf with the liberal society of which you are a member as I should be clear in the world, with a sufficiency to support me until I obtained a supply by a future production; but since that loss I have in vain endeavour’d, by the strictest economy, and the closest application to my literary pursuits, to extricate myself from pecuniary embarrassment and maintain, in the credit I have hitherto done, a life of humble retirement; and this very severe winter by injuring my health, has added to my embarrassments. If you think they intitle me to a claim on the bounty of the Literary Institution I trust my cause in your hands; and will bend submissively to your decision if you think it is not likely to prove successful as I would [not] on any account subject you Sir to the disagreeable task of pleading for me in vain.
I have taken the liberty of inclosing, with the list of my books, two sonnets, the tenth and sixteenth from my printed Poems, which I think will at least engage your pity for the writer, as they flowed from a sorrowful heart. I wish that I could as easily send you one of my Novels, as those in my library have been corrected—that is, in the numerous typographical errors with which, added to my own, they have appeared in the world; most of my originals, and all of my translations, have been committed but once to paper, and sent sheet by sheet as I finished them to the press without time even to reperuse them, such is the fate of those who write for a maintenance, and tormented with a thousand apprehensions from the moment the page went out of my hands I have felt thankful when they returned to me in print to find them what they are even with the errors of the press for which I had hoped the readers would make allowance as few books escape them.
For this intrusion on your time,
Sir, you will pardon your most
Obliged and Obedient
Humble Servant
Mary Julia Young

2. List of works included in the letter dated 28 March 1808, with additional comments from MJY.

Poems, published with, — —


Rosemount Castle, or False Report


The East Indian, or Clifford Priory


Right and Wrong, of the Kinsmen of Naples


Moss Cliff Abbey, or the Sepulchral Harmonist


Donalda, or the Witches of Glenshiel


A Summer near Brighton


The Star of Fashion, or Summer at Weymouth


Lindorf and Caroline, from the German of Professor Kramer


The Mother and Daughter, from the French of J. B. C. Berthier




Memoirs of Mrs Crouch, with a Dramatic Retrospect


Why I was chosen to write the memoirs of Mrs C the work itself will explain, it was published by Mr Asperne, of Cornhill, who knows the restraint laid on my pen by Personages who fear’d to be mention’d in those memoirs.
To my defence to Voltairiana I must refer for the character mélange which was thrown together at the express desire of my Publisher, and I hope Voltaire has not suffer’d by my choice of the selection and omissions which in some places I thought necessary for his credit and my own.

3. Sonnets enclosed in the letter dated March 28, 1808

‘To the Grave’

Insatiable Grave! Thou hast not left me one!
One gentle Relative to soften woe;
Here, wrapp’d in sable robe, I sit alone,
Here—from my heart the floods of anguish flow.
All the rich Treasures of my early years
Beneath the murky portals mould’ring lie,
While I, disconsolate, with fruitless tears
To thee complain who broke each tender tie,
No hand is left to guide my lonely way—
No voice to give my aching soul relief
My mother now—here rests her sacred clay,
No more can sooth one—Oh heart rending grief!
Insatiable Grave! Let me with her repose,
Then o’er the last-o’er me in silence close.

‘On My Birth Day’

Ah! Once with cheerful heart and spirits gay,
I hail’d the dawn of this my natal day!
With joy I then prepar’d the frugal treat
With joy beheld the valued circle meet;
From each dear Relative receiv’d with bliss
Affection’s present and Affection’s kiss
Then, with delight, I heard the wish sincere
That Heaven might bless me each revolving year.
Now I arise to solitary woe,
And as the minutes pass, sad, silent, slow
I count my Treasures lost—count one by one,
Weep for them all and find myself alone!
Fast flow my tears while I despairing say
Not one is left to bless my Natal Day!

4. MJY’s letter of response to the £15 granted to her following the letter dated 28 March 1808.

35 Oxford Street, April 3, 1808

Apprehensive lest I should have been deficient in expressing the gratitude I felt for your kindness and that of the Society of the Literary Fund, when you honour’d me by calling on me with the donation of fifteen pounds awarded to me by that noble and liberal minded society, through your solicitation in my behalf, permit me to request that, as you Sir have been the beneficent means of obtaining that sum for me, you will do me the favour to present my most grateful acknowledgement to the society for that acceptable gift, and believe me to be, with the truest sense of gratitude for your benevolent attention to my interest, Sir
Your most obliged
and most humble servant
Mary Julia Young


Contents of Mary Julia Young’s Works of Poetry

Contents of Poems (1798) [published as The Metrical Museum: Part I (1801)]

Agnes, or the Wanderer
The Flood
Adelaide and Antonine
Constancy, an Ode
The Natal Day
The Gathered Rose
The Visit
The Song of Penelope
Fragrant May
On Mrs Crouch in the Character of Æneas
Mutual Confidence, a Song
To the Zephyr
To Miss **** On Her Spending too much Time at the Looking Glass
To the First of May
To the Blighted Wind
To the Cynic
To a Friend On His Desiring Me to Publish
To The Moon
To Calliope
To Fancy, an Ode
Autumn, a Rural Sketch
The Advantages of Poetry
Sonnets, I. Constancy
Sonnets, II. Expectation
Sonnets, III. Elwinna
Sonnets, IV. Anxiety
Sonnets, V. Friendship
Sonnets, VI. To Love
Sonnets, VII. To Health
Sonnets, VIII. To Time
Sonnets, IX. To Dreams
Sonnets, X. To the Grave
Sonnets, XI. To the Evening Star
Sonnets, XII. To My Muse
Sonnets, XIII. To Nature
Sonnets, XIV. To My Pen
Sonnets, XV. On an early Spring
Sonnets, XVI. On My Birth Day
Thalia, or Dramatic Sketches
To De Courcy
The Apotheosis of Mrs. Pope
An Impromptu

Contents of Genius and Fancy (1795)

Genius and Fancy, or Dramatic Sketches
The Flood. An Irish Tale
Constancy. An Ode
To Miss ——, on Her Spending too much Time at the Looking-Glass
The Gather’d Rose
The Natal Day. To a Westminster Scholar at Windsor, during the Autumn Recess. Wrote August 21, 1787.
To The Blighting Wind
On the Character of Æneas, in the Opera of Dido. Being Performed by Mrs. Crouch.
A Song
To The Zephyr
A Sonnet
Sonnet to Dreams
An Ode to Fancy


Representative Samples of Mary Julia Young’s Poetry

Taken from Poems (1798)

‘On Mrs. Crouch, in the Character of Æneas’

Clad like a modern courtly dame,
From Paphos Isle fair Venus came,
To view her glorious son once more
Leaver Carthage and the Lybian shore,
Cold to the love-devoted queen,
Whose woes inspired the mimic scene.
“Alas!” the Cyprian goddess cried,
With all a partial mother’s pride,
“Who dare assume his more than mortal charms,—
His awful brow, so terrible in arms?
What dauntless hero now has strength to wield
Æneas’ spear, or bear his pond’rous shield?”
As thus she spoke, loud martial notes proclaim
The man whose prowess won immortal fame.
“O father Jove!” the queen of beauty cries,
“What form effeminate insults mine eyes?
Is this the warrior tuneful Maro sung,
While I, enraptured, blest the poet’s tongue!
That slender frame, and smooth unrazor’d chin;
Those ruby lips, soft eyes, that silken skin;
That voice which emulates celestial song,
Could they to brave Æneas e’er belong?
Could those weak shoulders too, with filial care,
The sacred load of great Anchises bear?
O no! ‘tis jealous Vulcan’s envious deed,
Who, like my son, has dress’d thy Ganymede.
Recall, dread fire, recall thy lovely page;
His false appearance will deceive the age!
How can that form in warlike habit shine,
Which in a female garb resembles mine?”

‘To Miss **** on Her Spending too much Time at the Looking Glass’

WHILE at the mirror, lovely maid,
You trifle time away,
Reflect how soon your bloom will fade,
How soon your charms decay.

By nature form’d to please the eye,
All studied airs disdain;—
From art, from affectation fly,
And fashions light and vain.

Turn from the glass, and view your mind,—
On that bestow some care;
Improve, correct it, till you find
No imperfections there.

Make it the feat of ev’ry grace,—
Of charms that will encrease,—
And give bright lustre to the face,
When youth and beauty cease;

Charms that will gain a worthy heart,
And lasting love inspire,—
That will thro’ life true bliss impart,
Nor yet with life expire.

‘To a Friend, On His Desiring Me to Publish’

With artless Muse, and humble name,
Shall I solicit public fame?
Shall I, who sing the pensive strain,
To soothe a mind oppressed with pain,
Or in the maze of fancy stray,
To pass a cheerless hour away,
Boldly to meet Apollo rise,
And flutter in his native skies?
Presumptuous, giddy, proud, elate,
Forgetting Icarus’ sad fate,
High on my treacherous plumage soar,
And fall, like him, to rise no more?
Or, to assume a strain more common,
Shall I, an unknown, untaught woman,
Expose myself to dread Reviews,—
To paragraphs in daily news?
To gall-dipp’d pens, that write one down,—
To Envy’s hiss, and Critic’s frown?
To printers, editors, and devils,*
With a thousand other evils,
That change the high-rais’d expectation
To disappointment and vexation,
And chase, abash’d, from public fame,
The artless Muse, the humble name?

*Boys belonging to the printers, who are call’d so from their black appearance.