Introduction: Innovations in the “Scandalous Memoir”

  • Caroline Breashears


This project contributes to the literary history of eighteenth-century women’s life writings, particularly those labeled “scandalous memoirs.” I argue that the evolution of this subgenre was shaped partially by several memoirs that have received only modest critical attention: Madame de La Touche’s Apologie (1736), Lady Vane’s Memoirs of a Lady of Quality (1751), Catherine Jemmat’s Memoirs (1762), and Margaret Coghlan’s Memoirs (1794). To illuminate their contributions, I review our current understanding of the origins and significance of the “scandalous memoir” as well as questions recently raised about women’s collaboration and the fluidity of forms. I add to this discussion with new information about these memoirists, whom I situate within historical and generic contexts. In so doing, I reveal their innovations in form and meaning.


Life writings “Scandalous memoirs” Genre Innovation Lady Vane Madame La Touche Tobias Smollett Catherine Jemmat Margaret Coghlan 


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  8. ———. Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan, (Daughter of the late Major Moncrieffe,) Written by Herself, and Dedicated to the British Nation; being Interspersed with Anecdotes of the Late American and Present French War, with Remarks Moral and Political. 2 vols. London: printed for the Author and sold by C. and G. Kearsley, 1794. Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Breashears
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishSt. Lawrence UniversityCantonUSA

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