Thursday 19 October 2017

Early Reviews of Haywood's Memoirs of Utopia (1725–26)

The following note and editorial addition, concerning Haywood's Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia, appears in the Critical Review, 4 (November 1757): 272 (online here):

To the Author of the Critical Review.

  LAST winter a book called Modern Lovers was published, pr. 3 s. but in fact was only part of The Memoirs of Utopia. This month the same publisher has exhibited a book called Prostitutes of Quality, which is likewise extracted from Memoirs of Utopia, and yesterday a book was published, called Memoirs of B— Tracey, which in fact is only a part of an absence book, called A History of the Human Heart, which is not fit to be read by the public.

Nov. 26, 1757.
      Your obedient servant,
            T. L.

N. B. The authors of The Critical Review are obliged to T. L. for the above letter; and should be obliged to him for the same sort of information hereafter; for they would heartily join him in detecting such notorious and infamous impositions on the public.

The four works mentioned here are:

[1] Modern Lovers; Or, The Adventures of Cupid, the God of Love: A Novel (London: Printed for J. Cooke, at the King’s-Arms, in Great-Turnstile, Holbourn, 1756); ESTC: t66385.

[2] Prostitutes of Quality; Or, Adultery á-la-mode. Being Authentic and Genuine Memoirs of Several Persons of the Highest Quality (London: Printed for J. Cooke, and J. Coote, opposite Devereux-Court, in the Strand, 1757); ESTC: t46030.

[3] Memoirs of B— Tracey (London: Printed for J. King, in Great Turnstile, Holborn, [1757]); ESTC: t118902.

[4] A History of the Human Heart; Or, The Adventures of a Young Gentleman (London: Printed for J. Freeman, 1749); ESTC: n17696.

* * * * *

Putting aside, for a moment, the question of whether [1] Modern Lovers and [2] Prostitutes of Quality are, in fact, "only part of The Memoirs of Utopia"—the other two works are certainly related to each other: [3] Memoirs of B— Tracey is "in fact is only a part of" [4] A History of the Human Heart—about two-thirds of the former being a word-for-word reprint of the latter (i.e., about 214 of 314 pages). Both titles appear in George Colman's imaginary "Catalogue of a Circulating Library," as nos. 142 and 89, which I posted here.

T. L. wasn’t the only person to comment on the thefts. The Monthly Review, notes Memoirs of B— Tracey is “All stolen from a wretched book, published about seven years ago, entitled, The History of the Human Heart; and now imposed upon the Public for a new Work.” And the reviewer at Annales typographiques comments on “Mémoires du baron Tracey,” that it is “Pillé d'un mauvais livre publié il y a sept ans, intitulé: The history of the human heart [Stolen from a wicked book published seven years ago, entitled: The history of the human heart].

* * * * *

As for [1] Modern Lovers and [2] Prostitutes of Quality (Coleman nos. 153 and 163): both are comprised exclusively of unauthorised reprints from Haywood’s Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia (1725–26), 2 vols. The eighteen chapters of Modern Lovers being very lightly revised, out-of-sequence excerpts from Memoirs of Utopia (1725), 61–71, 89–91, 103–25, 140–74, 177–94, 196–210, 260–74; the six stories in Prostitutes of Quality being even more lightly revised, out-of-sequence excerpts from Memoirs of Utopia (1725), 58–71, 72–120, 121–26, 126–56, 265–75 and Memoirs of Utopia, vol.2 (1726), 126–40.

The publisher of these two unautorised reprints, J. Cooke, appended the following to his first volume of stolen text:

I am but just commenced Author, and therefore cannot form any Judgment of my Ability to please or instruct the Public; but one Thing I can venture to promise, that if this Performance meets with a general Approbation, the Public shall hear again from their
      Most obedient Servant,

The publisher's misdirection continued in the Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, 10 November 1756, where Cooke notes "Great Enquiry having been made to discover the Author of this Performance; this is to assure the Public … that the Characters herein are all general, and not pointed at any particular Person, as hath been most falsely suggested.”

In 1756, the Monthly Review did not recognise Cooke desception, commenting only that Cupid “is here made to relate a number of silly, barren stories, each chapter being a distinct history," and noting that "At the end of the book, the public is threatned with a future visitation from the same quarter.” That "future visitation" was [2] Prostitutes of Quality.

With the publication of Prostitutes of Quality in 1757, both the Critical Review and Monthly Review recognised Cooke desception. The Critical Review is quoted at the start of this post—the Monthly Review adds that Prostitutes of Quality is “Cull’d from the lewd Eutopian romances that so much delighted the chamber-maids and ’prentices of the last age:—Surely, such wretched author-craft cannot fail of its reward!”

What is particularly interesting here is to see the reaction of reviewers when confronted with Haywood’s early work—after her death—work that was published before any of these journals, dedicated to reviewing literature, were established. The Monthly Review described the passages from Memoirs of Utopia as "silly, barren stories" in 1756, and “lewd” and “wretched” in 1757, but there is a back-handed complement, a grudging recognition, that the book “delighted … chamber-maids and ’prentices.” T. L., however, identifies all of the works he(?) mentions as “not fit to be read by the public.”

* * * * *

BTW: I am not really sure what "an absence book" is, unless absence is Latinate pun with ab- and sense: ab- being a prefix meaning "off, away, from" and, therefore, absence may be synonymous with something like "senseless." But this is a stretch. If there is an accepted meaning of this word/phrase, I am not familiar with, and neither are the editors of the OED.

Alternatively, "an absence book" may be a book in which absentees from Sunday School were noted, i.e., a naughty-book. The phrase is first recorded in the early nineteenth-century, but may be earlier. See, for instance, here in Hints for Conducting Sunday Schools (1811).

[NOTE: this is a revised and expanded version of a post I did almost six years ago.]

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Haywood's Distress'd Orphan — as a web comic!

Arden Powell has been inspired to adapt Eliza Haywood's The Distress'd Orphan; or, Love in a Madhouse (1726) into a web comic, under the title: Madhouse. (Madhouse doesn't have an exclamation mark, but I think it should be Madhouse!)

The first five pages will be posted today (Wednesday, 4 October 2017), with one new page every Wednesday thereafter until the complete novella is up.

According to Earla Wilputte, Arden hopes to build a large enough readership to pitch the project to publishers in the following year.

You can find "5 Reasons to Read Madhouse" here (one not mentioned is the lovely artwork), and a sample (The Garden Date) here. Enjoy!