This Broadview edition also includes a rich selection of historical materials, including writings from the period on sexuality, women’s work, Pamela and the print trade, and education and conduct.
Catherine Ingrassia is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. She is the author of Authorship, Commerce and Gender in Early Eighteenth-Century England: A Culture of Paper Credit (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Betsy Thoughtless is the story of the slow metamorphosis of the heroine from thoughtless coquette to thoughtful wife. Ironically, the most decisive moment in this development may be when Betsy decides to leave her emotionally abusive and financially punishing husband; it is only after experiencing independence that she returns to her marriage and to what becomes her husbands deathbed. Betsy Thoughtless may be the first real novel of female development in English. In this edition the text is accompanied by appendices, including writings from the period that shed light on Haywood’s life and work, and on her relationship with contemporaries such as Henry Fielding.
Haywood’s frankness about female sexuality may explain the later neglect of Love in Excess. (In contrast, her accomplished domestic novel, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, has remained available.) Love in Excess and its reception provide a lively and valuable record of the challenge that female desire posed to social decorum.
For the second Broadview edition, the appendix of eighteenth-century responses to Haywood has been considerably expanded.