Secresy – Second Edition
  • Publication Date: October 9, 1998
  • ISBN: 9781551112169 / 1551112167
  • 376 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Secresy – Second Edition

  • Publication Date: October 9, 1998
  • ISBN: 9781551112169 / 1551112167
  • 376 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Secresy was Eliza Fenwick’s only work for adults—a fact that may help to explain why this extraordinary novel has been so thoroughly overlooked. On one level this is a book that presents fascinating challenges to traditional structures of class and gender. Whereas Mr. Valmont, the villain of the piece, rejects merely the surface forms of fashionable society, the story of his niece Sibella and her friend Caroline implicitly rejects the substance as well as the trappings of a system that rested on class privilege and on female dependence. Secresy is also, though, a remarkable novel of human relationships: of sexuality (Sibella’s pregnancy is the occasion for the secrecy that gives the book its title), and of romantic love, but also the female friendship between Sibella and Caroline that is very much at the heart of the book. The relationships—and the grand themes—are expressed through an epistolary technique through which Fenwick (in the editor’s words) shows “a breadth of sympathy which can find comedic pleasure even in what is disapproved.”


“A novel of ideas written with passionate conviction, Secresy dramatises the intense intellectual ferment of the 1790s. Readers of Jane Austen will be fascinated by the many points of contrast with Sense and Sensibility.” — F.P. Lock, Queen’s University

“Eliza Fenwick’s fascinating novel Secresy, one of eighteenth-century scholars’ best-kept secrets, is finally within reach of specialists and lay readers alike.” — Ruth Perry, MIT


Eliza Fenwick’s Beginnings
Publication of Secresy
Fenwick’s Life after Secresy
Fenwick’s Letters
Secresy: Politics and Artistry

A Note on the Text

Secresy; The Ruin on the Rock

Volume I
Volume II
Volume III

Appendix A: Fenwick’s First Book for Children

Appendix B: Fenwick’s Second Adult Novel

Appendix C: Fenwick’s Correspondence

Isobel Grundy is Henry Marshall Tory Professor at the University of Alberta. She was co-editor of The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. She is author of a biography, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Comet of the Enlightenment (1999), and is also a co-Investigator on the Orlando Project (an electronic history of women’s writing in the British Isles).