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The Family, Sex, and Scandal: Catherine Jemmat’s Memoirs

  • Caroline Breashears
Chapter

Abstract

In the latter half of the eighteenth century, “scandalous memoirists” begin to focus more intently on family dynamics, arraigning disloyal relations as well as cruel husbands and lovers. This change reflects a transition in the concept of the family, with kinship priorities gradually shifting from consanguineal to conjugal families. The corresponding change in the female appeal memoir begins with The Memoirs of Mrs. Catherine Jemmat, Daughter of the late Admiral Yeo, of Plymouth (1762). Jemmat frames her tale as a doomed quest for domestic happiness: the scandal of her text is not her sexual fall, which she never narrates, but her abuse and abandonment by relations. In making these arguments, Jemmat modifies the structure of the “scandalous memoir” and provides a model for later memoirists.

Keywords

“Scandalous memoirs” Catherine Jemmat Family Kinship Genre Structure 

Bibliography

  1. Gooch, Elizabeth. An Appeal to the Public, on the Conduct of Mrs. Gooch, The Wife of William Gooch, Esq. Written by Herself. London: G. Kearsley, 1788.Google Scholar
  2. Haywood, Eliza. The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless. 1751. Ed. Beth Fowkes Tobin. Oxford UP, 1997.Google Scholar
  3. Johnstone, Julia. The Confessions of Julia Johnstone, Written by Herself. In Contradiction to the Fables of Harriette Wilson. London: Benbow, 1825.Google Scholar
  4. ———. The Life of Mrs. Gooch. Written by Herself. Dedicated to the Public. In Three Volumes. London: Printed for the Authoress, and Sold by C. and G. Kearsley, No. 46, Fleet Street, 1792.Google Scholar
  5. Wilson, Harriette. Memoirs of Harriette Wilson, Written by Herself. London: J. J. Stockdale, 1825.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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