Published in 1749, the story of Mrs. Teachum and the nine pupils who make up her “little female academy” is widely recognized as the first full-length novel for children, and the first to be aimed specifically at girls. The daily experiences of Mrs. Teachum’s charges are interwoven with fables and fairy tales illustrating the book’s underlying principles, which draw on contemporary theories of education and virtue. As central to the history of the novel as it is to the development of children’s literature,
The Governess is a pioneering work by one of the eighteenth century’s most respected women writers.
This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction that places The Governess in its cultural and literary context; appendices include examples of eighteenth-century educational literature and selections from Fielding’s correspondence.
“With this fine edition of Sarah Fielding’s so-called ‘children’s novel,’ Candace Ward has provided an extraordinary service to students, critics, and readers of eighteenth-century writing. In the context of debates over the novel’s origins, The Governess appears at once to extend and to challenge the mandates of early modern fiction. More than that, this superb edition enlarges our understanding of the essentially social nature of novel reading, a feature Sarah Fielding built into her own unique conception of the genre.” — Mike Hill, University at Albany, State University of New York