The first novel to be written for serial publication by a major female author, Sophia follows the story of two siblings, the virtuous and well-read eponymous heroine and her flighty and coquettish sister. While the latter leads a vapid life in the fashionable world of London, the former flees from a potential seducer to the country, where she pursues true friendship, learning, and an independent living. Previously out of print, the novel explores such issues as the place of female education, the opposition of city and country, the emergence of the literary marketplace, and the development of the individual.
This Broadview edition reproduces images from the novel’s original serial publication and also includes other articles from Lennox’s periodical The Lady’s Museum, contemporary reviews of Sophia, and writings on sentimentalism.
“Norbert Schürer’s introduction provides the literary and cultural contexts for this wrongfully neglected novel of a major English novelist. He explains why Lennox was ‘the most important female writer in Britain around the middle of the eighteenth century’ and describes the innovations Sophia introduced both in its content and its format; it was one of the first novels to be published in serial installments in a magazine. This scrupulously edited volume is a treasure trove of information about Lennox’s life, the contemporary publishing world, and pervasive aspects of English culture such as titles, money, and transportation. It is a lively and authoritative contribution to our knowledge of the eighteenth-century British novel.” — Ruth Perry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“While placing Lennox in a patriarchal literary marketplace dominated by Richardson, Fielding, and Dr. Johnson, Schürer provocatively reads this ‘two sisters novel’ both with and against the grain, to argue that Lennox both affirms and subverts Sophia's moral example and the novel’s conservative didacticism. Strengths of this edition include the reproduction and discussion of eighteenth-century illustrations of scenes from the novel, and the reprinting of otherwise hard to find contemporary biographies of ‘the celebrated’ Charlotte Lennox.” — Eve Tavor Bannet, University of Oklahoma