The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph was hugely popular in circulating libraries in the years after its publication, and its emotional intensity was often remarked upon; Samuel Johnson wrote to Frances Sheridan, “I know not, Madam! that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.” Sheridan traces Sidney Bidulph’s development in a complex epistolary novel spanning much of the protagonist’s life, and explores the tension between sexual desire and prescribed female conduct.
In addition to an introduction that places the novel in the context of Sheridan’s feminism and of the early novel, this edition provides material on discourses of female conduct, letters between Sheridan and Samuel Richardson, and contemporary reviews.
“Restoring to print an important, if neglected, eighteenth-century novel, this thoroughly annotated new edition also sets The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph in the context of its period’s attitudes toward and dicta for women, suggests the novel’s political implications, and provides a sampling of its enthusiastic contemporary reviews. The edition should create a new generation of enthusiasts.” — Patricia M. Spacks, University of Virginia