Prolific even by eighteenth-century standards, Eliza Haywood was the author of more than eighty titles, including short fiction, novels, periodicals, plays, poetry, and a political pamphlet for which she was briefly jailed. From her early successes (most notably Love in Excess) to later novels such as Betsy Thoughtless (her best known work) she remained widely read, yet sneered at as a ‘stupid, infamous, scribbling woman’ by the likes of Swift and Pope.
Betsy Thoughtless is the story of the slow metamorphosis of the heroine from thoughtless coquette to thoughtful wife. Ironically, the most decisive moment in this development may be when Betsy decides to leave her emotionally abusive and financially punishing husband; it is only after experiencing independence that she returns to her marriage and to what becomes her husbands deathbed. Betsy Thoughtless may be the first real novel of female development in English. In this edition the text is accompanied by appendices, including writings from the period that shed light on Haywood’s life and work, and on her relationship with contemporaries such as Henry Fielding.
“Both scholarly and readable, Christine Blouch’s edition of Eliza Haywood’s The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless is a welcome addition to the expanding library of neglected and undervalued women novelists of the early eighteenth century that will contribute to the current re-assessment of Haywood’s work.” — John Richetti, University of Pennsylvania
“Eliza Haywood transforms the familiar tale of the reformed coquette. A comic investigation of city morals and manners develops into a dark critique of women’s vulnerability in bourgeois marriage. Christine Blouch’s informative edition clarifies the contexts of Haywood’s textual, political and personal relations.” — Ros Ballaster, Mansfield College, Oxford University
“Simply the best edition to date of Haywood’s fiction. The text and apparatus are equally impressive.” — Alexander Pettit, University of North Texas