When it first appeared in 1767, The Female American was called a “sort of second Robinson Crusoe; full of wonders.” Indeed, The Female American is an adventure novel about an English protagonist shipwrecked on a deserted isle, where survival requires both individual ingenuity and careful negotiations with visiting local Indians. But what most distinguishes Winkfield’s novel is her protagonist, a woman who is of mixed race. Though the era’s popular novels typically featured women in the confining contexts of the home and the bourgeois marriage market, Winkfield’s novel portrays an autonomous and mobile heroine living alone in the wilds of the New World, independently interacting with both Native Americans and visiting Europeans. Moreover, The Female American is one of the earliest novelistic efforts to articulate an American identity, and more specifically to investigate what that identity might promise for women.
Along with discussion of authorship issues, the Broadview edition contains excerpts from English and American source texts. This is the only edition available.
"Graced by an uncommonly interesting as well as learned introduction, this edition of the virtually unknown novel, The Female American, will invigorate any collection of colonial American literature. Indeed, its obscurity up to now is surprising, for it seems as central to the modes and issues of colonial fiction as such now-standard works as Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth or Hannah Foster's The Coquette."
"The Female American is a fascinating Robinsoniad ...an original blend of predecessor narratives by Behn, Defoe, and Penelope Aubin."
"This adeptly edited, page-turner of a novel is a fascinating descendant of Robinson Crusoe and an important example of the kinds of cross-Atlantic fiction being written to explore issues of colonialism, race, gender, nationhood, and human rights in the decade before the American Revolution. In contrast to Smollett's Humphry Clinker and Brooke's The History of Emily Montague, The Female American dares to give us a bi-racial heroine, a nuanced portrait of American Indians who can ask whites 'Had you no lands of your own?' and a startling exploration of religious imperialism."
A Note on the Text
The Female American
Appendix A: “English” Sources
1. Aphra Behn
2. Daniel Defoe
3. Peter Longueville
Appendix B: “American” Sources
1. Thomas Hariot
2. George Percy
3. John Smith
Appendix C: Reviews of The Female American
1. The Monthly Review
2. The Critical Review
Works Cited/Recommended Reading