Charlotte Lennox

Correspondence and Miscellaneous Documents

Edited by Norbert Schürer

Publication date:

09 February 2012

Length of book:

480 pages


Bucknell University Press

ISBN-13: 9781611483901

This volume compiles and annotates for the first time the complete correspondence of the eighteenth-century British author Charlotte Lennox, best known for her novel The Female Quixote. Lennox corresponded with famous contemporaries from different walks of life such as James Boswell, David Garrick, Samuel Johnson, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and she interacted with many other influential figures including her patroness the Countess of Bute, publisher Andrew Millar, and the Reverend Thomas Winstanley. In addition to Lennox’s and her correspondents’ letters, this book presents related documents such as the author’s proposals for subscription editions of her works, her file with the Royal Literary Fund, and a series of poems and stories supposedly composed by her son but perhaps written by herself. In these carefully and extensively annotated documents, Charlotte Lennox traces the vagaries in the career of a female writer in the male-dominated eighteenth-century literary marketplace.

The introduction situates Lennox in the context of contemporaneous print culture and specifically examines the contentious question of the authorship of
The Female Quixote, Lennox’s experimentation with various forms of publication, and her appeals for charity to the Royal Literary Fund when she was impoverished towards the end of her life. The author who emerges from Charlotte Lennox was an active, assertive, innovative, and independent woman trying to find her place—and make a literary career—in eighteenth-century Britain. Thus, this volume makes an important contribution to the history of female authorship, literary history, and eighteenth-century studies.
SchD"urer (California State Univ., Long Beach) presents a learned, highly readable, and engaging set of all known letters relating to 18th-century English author Charlotte Lennox (c1730-1804). His copious, meticulous bibliographical research shows the long, complicated personal and literary life of Lennox, whose sex often negatively affected her ability to make a living. The preface details editorial practices and glosses terms. The introduction describes Lennox's enigmatic early life and her tragic final years, as it contextualizes her prolific work. Schürer fills in information on the publishing and legal worlds of the time (material that helps explain Lennox's actions) and also her close relationships with prominent literary mentors such as Johnson, Boswell, and Richardson, and aristocratic patrons such as the Countess of Bute and the Marquess of Rockingham. In the useful, extensive notes, the editor explains historical events and literary circumstances related to the letters and to supplementary documents in the appendixes. Readers need not have specialized knowledge or theoretical background to understand the content and value of this volume, which is easy to read and has an informal but scholarly tone. Summing Up: Recommended.