Renouncing the Forms: The Case of Elizabeth Inchbald

  • Mary A. Waters
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


Much like Barbauld, Elizabeth Inchbald began writing literary criticism only after achieving professional success in other fields. Born 1753 in Stanningfield, near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, to a family of middle-class Catholics, Elizabeth Simpson was an unusually intelligent young girl, showing an early appetite for both reading and the stage. She had tried unsuccessfully to join Richard Griffith’s Norwich theater company, and meeting no encouragement there, at age 18 she ran away to London with the goal of becoming an actor. Two months later she married Joseph Inchbald, a much older established actor who had courted her before she had left home. Shortly after the wedding, Joseph Inchbald engaged with a Bristol theater company in the role of King Lear. Elizabeth Inchbald’s stage debut in the role of Cordelia took place toward the end of this production following weeks of determined effort to master the delivery of her lines despite a severe stammer that she was never able fully to overcome. First in the provinces and Scotland and then, after her husband’s early death, in London, Inchbald achieved some success in her chosen profession, performing with the celebrated John Kemble and Sarah Siddons, among others.


Literary Criticism Literary Work Woman Writer Periodical Publication Critical Voice 
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Copyright information

© Mary A. Waters 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary A. Waters
    • 1
  1. 1.Wichita State UniversityUSA

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