Tuesday 27 August 2019

William Hatchett and The Fall of Mortimer

Jina Moon was awarded her Ph.D. at the University of Tulsa in 2015, for her study “Domestic Violence in Victorian and Edwardian Fiction”; she came to my attention a few months ago for an essay she has written on William Hatchett: “‘Was Ever Treason so Unnatural?’: Phallic Mothers and Propaganda in Two Plays by William Hatchett.”

Moon’s essays opens: “William Hatchett’s The Fall of Mortimer was famously suppressed by Sir Robert Walpole’s government in 1731…”—which is a fine opening, except there is no evidence that The Fall of Mortimer was actually written by William Hatchett. The attribution was first made a century after the play was published, without evidence, and not obviously to William Hatchett, as I explained in my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood in 2004 (under De.1, De.4, De.5).

Moon only attempts to support her attribution with a footnote (393n1), not an in-text discussion. Her footnote states that “eighteenth-century historians and theatre scholars identified William Hatchett as its author”—naming Allardyce Nicoll as having made the attribution (actually he only reported the attribution, which seems to have been first made in 1834), Thomas Lockwood as having “acknowledged” it (in 1989) and Jennifer Airey—also of the University of Tulsa—as “confirming” it (2013).

All of these claims are either misleading or false (see below). It is not clear whether Moon misunderstood or intentionally misrepresented her sources, but her failure to identify the source and status of the attribution of The Fall of Mortimer to Hatchett—to either recognise or acknowledge that there is no primary source at all for it—undermines her argument and many (most?) of the claims she makes in her essay. Although many of her claims about Hatchett and the text are somewhat weak anyway, it is a shame that Moon undermined her own work at the outset, since she is certainly right that “critics have evinced almost no interest in Hatchett’s work” (384).

It is both surprising and disappointing (the usual combination) that New Theatre Quarterly’s referees did not pick up this rather fundamental flaw in Moon's argument. When I asked the editors about it they—at first—tried to ignore the question altogether, and then—when pressed—pretended that Moon had not, in fact, mischaracterised her sources at all.

Since there are so few essays on Hatchett, I think it is important to acknowledge that Moon's essay is based on an unsubstantiated claim (or, at least, a poorly substantiated one). But rather than write a formal essay arguing how Moon has mischaracterised her sources, I thought I'd simply transcribe here her footnote and the relevant sections of her sources, with a few brief notes, so the reader can judge for themselves.

Airey, ‘Was Ever Treason so Unnatural?’: 393n1: "In The Politics of Drama in Augustan England, John Loftis argues that the anonymity [of The Fall of Mortimer] was inevitable because it was ‘a dangerous play to acknowledge’ (p. 105). Likewise, its two printed versions in 1731 and 1763 did not have the author’s name. As a result, the authorship of The Fall of Mortimer remained obscure. Nonetheless, despite the anonymity, eighteenth-century historians and theatre scholars identified William Hatchett as its author. For example, in A History of English Drama 1660–1900, Allardyce Nicoll attributes The Fall of Mortimer to Hatchett, introducing a hand-list of plays (p. 371). In ‘William Hatchett, A Rehearsal of Kings (1737), and the Panton Street Puppet Show (1748)’, Thomas Lockwood also acknowledges Hatchett’s authorship of the play (p. 317). In ‘Staging Rape in the Age of Walpole: Sexual Violence and the Politics of Dramatic Adaptation in 1730s Britain’, Jennifer Airey also confirms his authorship of The Fall of Mortimer (p. 101)."

"Nicoll attributes" (nope, he avoids doing this)

Airey's citation is Allardyce Nicoll, A History of English Drama 1660–1900, 3rd edn. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 2.371 (in the "a hand-list of plays"). There were three editions of Nicoll's Early eighteenth century drama: 1925, 1929, 1952, in all editions The Fall of Mortimer does not appear under Hatchett's name (in the 3rd ed. this is on 2.334), but—instead—appears under the heading "Unknown Authors" where Nicoll records that the play had been "Attributed to William Hatchett". If Nicoll accepted this attribution, or thought it was reliable, The Fall of Mortimer would appear under Hatchett's name.

"Lockwood acknowledges the authorship" (not really, he also hedges)

Lockwood, "William Hatchett, A Rehearsal of Kings (1737)": 316–17: "It was apparently Hatchet also who reupholstered the old play of King Edward the Third as The Fall of Mortimer"; 231n6 "As Hume has noted (Henry Fielding and the London Theatre, p.80 n), the attribution to Hatchett goes back only to Lowndes's Bibliographer’s Manual, rev. Henry G. Bohn, 6 vols. (London, 1857-64), 3.1619. See also Lance Bertelsen, "The Significance of the 1731 revisions to The Fall of Mortimer’, Restoration and 18th Century Theatre Research, 2nd Ser., 2 (1987), 17–18. … If Hatchett did write The Fall of Mortimer then he would also have been the author of the pamphlet in its vindication, The History of Mortimer …". Note here "apparently," "only" and "If…then"—this is Lockwood hedging, though both of his sources are less cautious.

Hume, 80n86: "The adaptation was anonymous, Lowndes credits [William] Hatchett, plausibly, but without explanation"—citing the 1857-64 edition of Lowndes's Bibliographer’s Manual. (In fact, the attribution appears first in William Thomas Lowndes, The Bibliographer’s Manual of English Literature (London: William Pickering, 1834), 3.1302: "by — Hatchett.") Hume is admirably clear and concise (plausible, but no evidence), though he does not dwell on the identification of "— Hatchett" as William Hatchett.

Bertelsen, 17: "William Hatchett, the probable reviser of The Fall of Mortimer"; 17–18 "If, as seems likely, Hatchett did indeed transform King Edward the Third…" Note that, while Bertelsen suggests that the attribution is probable, he reminds the reader that would only make Hatchett the reviser of the play (a characterisation consistent with the "Advertisement" in the 3rd ed. of 1731), before attributing to Hatchett Remarks on an Historical Play call'd The Fall of Mortimer.

"Airey confirms his authorship" (no, she really doesn't)

Unfortunately for Moon, Airey’s “Staging Rape in the Age of Walpole” does no such thing; it simply mentions The Fall of Mortimer, in passing, in a list of nine plays, in the form "William Hatchett's The Fall of Mortimer" (96). There is no evidence offered by Airey for the attribution, or any work of reference cited in proximity to this list.

Airey was the only scholar mentioned by Moon who I was unfamiliar with, and so I was anxious to read her essay, which is woeful. I was not remotely surprised to discover that Airey had not "confirmed" the Hatchett attribution, that she had simply repeated the Hatchett attribution without evidence, since I already knew that Nicoll made no such attribution and that Lockwood's "acknowledgement" amounts to nothing when it comes to evidencing an attribution.

Sadly, I found what I expected, that Moon had either misunderstood or lied about Airey in an attempt, it seems, to obscure the fact that there is no primary evidence for this attribution. At all. That Moon does not once mention either Remarks on an Historical Play or The History of Mortimer indicates just how shollow her interest is in attribution questions or—I'd argue—the play itself.

* * * * *

Jina Moon, “‘Was Ever Treason so Unnatural?’: Phallic Mothers and Propaganda in Two Plays by William Hatchett,” which was published in New Theatre Quarterly, 34, No. 4 (November 2018): 383–94.

Jennifer Airey, “Staging Rape in the Age of Walpole: Sexual Violence and the Politics of Dramatic Adaptation in 1730s Britain,” in Interpreting Sexual Violence, 1660–1800, edited by A. Greenfield (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2014), 95–106.

Sunday 25 August 2019

More Female Spectators

A few years ago I mentioned (here) that "When I set out, without much premeditation, to collect Haywood taxonomically, I had not thought that I would end up with so many 'duplicates'." (My post was prompted by the arrival of my seventh set of the “Second” edition of The Female Spectator (1748).) While this was certainly true of most of Haywood's works—even at the start—there are two items I would have excluded from this blanket statement: the first, octavo, editions of both The Female Spectator and La Belle AssemblĂ©e. Today I am going to talk about the first of these.

I provided the reason I might have wanted duplicates of the first edition(s) of The Female Spectator in my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004), 438:

It ought to be noted that to distinguish the different editions of each Book has proved to be a very difficult task … Since the bookbinder was instructed to ‘cancel [remove] every title except the general one’, few of the surviving sets contain any of the original part-titles. Since first, second and third printings are often so similar as to be almost indistinguishable except from their part-titles, and no ready method exists to identify the edition of books with cancelled [part] titles, only those sets with part-titles intact or with second edition general titles have been identified by cataloguers as containing reprinted Books. No library with these rare survivals has multiple copies of the part-published editions of The Female Spectator and so it has not been possible to compare different editions of each Book.

One of the consequences of the fact that "no single public or private library has approached completeness in gathering together the works of Haywood" (16), was that almost no library had more than a single copy of any of her works. (Spoiler alert: except mine.)

In the case of the first edition(s) of The Female Spectator, only the British Library and the Bodleian have more than a single set, and in both cases the second set is incomplete (i.e., L [94.c.12–15; 629.e.4, -v.1,4] and O [8vo Y 64–66 Jur, -v.4; G. Pamph. 1856 (14), bk.1 only]), and none of the 24 individual "Books" that make up The Female Spectator are reprints in either case.

As a consequence, when I was preparing my Bibliography, I had to compile entries for each Book based on a comparison of the Monash and Melbourne University mixed sets with a microfilm copy of the Harvard set (which has almost all of the part-titles for first edition Books) combined with with a handful of photocopies posted to me by the University of Kansas and the Riverside Library at the University of California (which both have most of the known part-titles for reprinted Books).

I concluded my headnote to The Female Spectator with a warning:

It is quite unlikely that every edition of every Book has been identified [here] and so it is not clear how many Books were reprinted. The fact that no copy is known to have survived with uncancelled part-titles for Books 10–24 and that no differences have been discovered among copies of these later Books in the few copies examined does not prove that no later Books were reprinted. It may be that reprints of the later Books have not survived uncancelled by mere chance and that the absence of any comprehensive Haywood collection has hindered the identification of differences that may exist among widely scattered copies of earlier Books.

Obviously, since "the absence of any comprehensive Haywood collection ha[d] hindered the identification of differences that may exist among widely scattered copies of earlier Books", one of the things I hoped to achieve by collecting Haywood taxonomically, was to improve the entry for the individual Books that make up the first, octavo, editions of The Female Spectator, by collecting multiple copies.

Fifteen years later, as you can see above, I now have four copies of the octavo editions: three complete sets (two of mixed issues; all with part-titles), of the "First" octavo edition, and one odd volume (the first volume only, no part titles) of the second octavo edition.

As a result of my collecting, I now have copies of 27 of the 34 individual Books that I described in 2004, plus four more that I have since identified (Ab.60.0.1A, Ab.60.0.5A, Ab.60.0.11A, Ab.60.0.32A). I also have part-titles for 26 of these 38 entries. Combining my own copies with those I have local access to, there are now only three Books inaccessible to me: Ab.60.0.15, Ab.60.0.17, Ab.60.0.19, all only known to exist in the Riverside Library copy.

It is not clear whether the high price of my latest copy—the “Cornwell House” set, sold at the Martin Orskey sale in June—is a factor of it having come up at a prominent London auction, or the increased interest in Haywood. Although it is contrary to my interest for it to be the latter, it would be nice to think that one of Haywood's most important works was beginning to be more highly valued. If so, my chances of adding any further copies to my collection are very low. This Cornwell House set cost me almost fifteen times as much as either of the two previous sets, an extravagance I couldn't afford to repeat.

However, now that I have four copies of the first volume it is easy to show the advantage of having multiple copies of the same work. Note that, in the photo below, each copy is open to the last page of Book 1, and that the facing page is either the part title for Book 2, or the first page of text for Book 2. There are three editions of Book 1, all of which are illustrated here.

The two copies on the left are identical (Book 1 ends on page 68, both have the same tailpiece). These are both copies of Ab.60.0.1. While both copies of Book 1 on the right end, instead, on page 70, the settings are different from each other (the final line is longer bottom right), and a different tailpiece is used on each. The top one is Ab.60.0.1A, the bottom Ab.60.0.2.

As the above image suggests, it is almost impossible to overstate how valuable to be able to compare multiple copies in this way. Which is why it is so important for serious research libraries to collect authors in depth. Although a number of research libraries have been collecting eighteenth-century women writers with some enthusiasm, they appear to be collecting for breadth, not depth—as is indicated by the fact that it is still the case that there is no institutional library with even two full sets of Haywood's Female Spectator.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Teaching Eliza Haywood

At some point in the Northern Winter of 2020 (i.e., early 2020, since the Northern Winter runs from ca. December 2019 to March 2020), the Modern Language Association of America will publish Approaches to Teaching the Works of Eliza Haywood, with contributions from twenty-five scholars, myself included.

Among the broad range of Haywood scholars included in this volume, are those who have done so much to make her work available in edited form: Paula R. Backscheider (Selected Fiction and Drama of Eliza Haywood), Catherine Ingrassia (Anti-Pamela), Tiffany Potter (The Masqueraders and The Surprize), and Earla Wilputte (The Adventures of Eovaai, Three Novellas). Also included are scholars who have made a name for themselves with book-length studies, which have had a significant impact on Haywood studies: Ros Ballaster (Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740), Kathryn R. King (A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood), and Kirsten T. Saxton (The Passionate Fictions of Eliza Haywood).

David Oakleaf—another significant name in Haywood studies—comments that “The pedagogical range and resourcefulness of this volume is impressive. Any teacher of Haywood will benefit from a thorough engagement with the material presented.” I am certainly looking forward to reading the other contrutions, whichI have not yet seen.

* * * * *

My own essay ("Haywood’s Works: Availability, Editing, and Issues of Bibliography") will be in the first section, titled “Materials,” which is intended to identify "high-quality editions, reliable biographical sources, and useful background information." Although I primarily intended my essay to be a history of the availability of Haywood's works—in original editions, various micro-format duplicates, and printed editions, whether in facsimilie or edited form—what I ended up focussing on is the extent to which the growth and focus of Haywood scholarship has depended on the availability of Haywood's works in edited form.

Obviously, for works to be studied at all, they need to be available to a scholar; but for works to be widely studied, they really need to be widely available in edited form. Certainly, for the most part, those works by Haywood which have been the most frequently edited are also the ones that are most frequently discussed in scholarship. However, the correlation is imperfect, suggesting a bias among Haywood scholars for Haywood’s prose fiction and periodicals over her drama, nonfiction, and Haywood's many translations.

What my survey suggested to me is that convenient edited editions of Idalia and The Fatal Secret, for instance, are certainly called for, and would probably encourage more studies of those works, but the developing critical interest in Haywood’s periodicals and longer works of original prose fiction suggest that editions of The Young Lady or The Fortunate Foundlings would do more to expand the range of Haywood scholarship. Publishers take heed!