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