Conclusion: Partisan Realisms and Canon Formation

  • Rachel Carnell


In “On the Origin and Progress of Novel-writing,” an influential, canon-shaping essay that introduces her multivolume anthology The British Novelists (1810), Anna Barbauld divides Haywood’s oeuvre into two parts: “her earlier novels” which she describes as “in the style of Mrs. Behn’s (that is, “licentious . . . also fallen”) and “her later works,” which she acknowledges are “by no means void of merit.”1 In other words, within a half century of Haywood’s death in 1756, her reputation, which was already in peril when the Whig Monthly Review dismissed her as merely the author of “novels” and “other romantic performances” in its response to her arrest for writing A Letter . . . to a Particular Friend,2 hinged on the single question of sexual morals. Although Barbauld describes Haywood as a “very prolific genius” (401), her “merit” or skill as a writer, along with her contribution to the structural evolution of the novel, remains obscured because the moral “merit” of her later works must atone for the dubious morality of her early writings.


Wild Boar Monthly Review Partisan Politics Political Writing Century Literary Canon 
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© Rachel Carnell 2006

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  • Rachel Carnell

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