or, The Fortunate Mistress
  • Publication Date: April 14, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118079 / 1551118076
  • 420 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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or, The Fortunate Mistress

  • Publication Date: April 14, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118079 / 1551118076
  • 420 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Almost three hundred years after its first publication, Roxana continues to challenge readers, who, though compelled by Roxana’s story, are often baffled by her complex relationships to her children, her fortune, and her vices. As one of Daniel Defoe’s four major fictions, Roxana has long been understood as central to the history of the novel, and provides readers with Defoe’s sharpest and most specific commentary on the complexities of life in seventeenth-century London. This edition offers a range of contemporary documents that will help readers understand the struggles of Roxana’s life as series of metaphoric engagements with pressing issues of her time.


“Rare is that edition that gives us a fresh interpretation of a primary work, but that is precisely what Melissa Mowry has accomplished in this excellent edition. The introduction details Roxana’s place in Defoe’s career and the ways the novel evokes his Dissenter politics, while also shedding new light on the novel’s imbrication in debates about political sovereignty, feminism, and prostitution. The supplementary materials are all artfully chosen to produce fresh readings of the novel. Finally, the inclusion of some of the alternate endings written for Roxana, along with a brief reception history of Defoe’s work, invites speculation about changes in the representation of gender and sexuality over the course of the long eighteenth century in Britain.” — Scarlet Bowen, University of Colorado

Daniel Defoe: A Brief Chronology
Defoe’s Times: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text


Appendix A: Roxana’s Shifting Identity and the Tradition of Whore Biography

  1. From The Lawyer’s Clarke Trappan’d by the Crafty Whore of Canterbury (1663)
  2. From The London Jilt (1683)
  3. From The Whores Rhetorick (1683)

Appendix B:Women’s Work

  1. A True Copie of the Petition of the Gentlewomen, and Tradesmens-Wives (1641)
  2. Mary Collier, The Woman’s Labour: An Epistle to Mr. Stephen Duck (1739)

Appendix C: Court Culture

  1. Poor-Whores Petition (1668)
  2. The Gracious ANSWER … To the Poor-Whores Petition
  3. John Dunton, The Night-Walker (1696)

Appendix D: City Culture

  1. The Character of a Town-Miss (1680)
  2. Auction of Whores (1691)

Appendix E: The Great Debate on the Poor

  1. From Matthew Hale, A Discourse Touching Provision for the Poor (1683)
  2. From Thomas Firman, Some Proposals for the imployment of the Poor (1681)
  3. From Daniel Defoe, The Poor Man’s Plea (1698)
  4. From Daniel Defoe, Every-Body’s Business is No-Body’s Business (1725)
  5. From Bernard Mandeville, Modest Defense of the Publick Stews (1724)
  6. From Daniel Defoe, Some Considerations Upon Street-Walkers (1726)

Appendix F:Women and Marriage

  1. From Mary Astell, Some Considerations on Marriage (1700/1706)
  2. From Daniel Defoe, Conjugal Lewdness (1727)

Appendix G: Alternate Endings of Roxana

  1. Daniel Defoe, The fortunate mistress (1740)
  2. Daniel Defoe, The history of Mademoiselle de Beleau (1775)

Appendix H: Defoe, Roxana, and Posterity

  1. From Charles Gildon, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Mr. Daniel Defoe (1719)
  2. From The History of Mademoiselle de Beleau; or,The New Roxana (1775)
  3. John Howlett, The Insufficiency of the Causes to which the Increase of the Poor’s Rates Have Been Commonly Ascribed (1788)
  4. George Chalmers, The Life of Daniel Defoe (1790)
  5. Thomas Ruggles, The History of the Poor (1797)
  6. The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1833)

Select Bibliography

Melissa Mowry is Associate Professor of English at St. John’s University, New York.