Novel Memoirs: The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle and Memoirs of a Lady of Quality

  • Caroline Breashears


In March 1751, Tobias Smollett published The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. In which are included, Memoirs of a Lady of Quality. The title signals a fascinating experiment in the relationship between life and art, gender and genre—an experiment that led to innovations in both the novel and the “scandalous memoir.” By situating her memoirs within a picaresque novel, Lady Vane surrounds her tale with evidence that her trials reflect universal struggles. By echoing Lady Vane’s narrative in his novel’s plot, Smollett affirms the difficulty of reconciling personal happiness with social approval, and he explores how gender and genre affect the significance of particular incidents. Together, their texts and paratexts form a dialogue about social shifts, personal development, and the possibilities of collaboration.


“Scandalous memoirs” Novel Picaresque Genre Gender Experiment Paratexts Collaboration 


  1. [Hill, John.] The History of a Woman of Quality: or, the Adventures of Lady Frail. By an Impartial Hand. London: M. Cooper and G. Woodfall, 1751. Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.Google Scholar
  2. The Parallel; or, Pilkington and Phillips Compared. Being Remarks upon the Memoirs of those Two Celebrated Writers. By an Oxford Scholar. London: M. Cooper. 1748. 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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