Portrait, c. 1796
Stanningfield, Suffolk, England
|Occupation||Novelist, dramatist, critic, actress|
Elizabeth Inchbald (née Simpson) (1753–1821) was an English novelist, actress, and dramatist.Her two novels are still read today.
Born on 15 October 1753 at Stanningfield, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Elizabeth was the eighth of the nine children of John Simpson (died 1761), a farmer, and his wife Mary, née Rushbrook. The family, like several others in the neighbourhood was Roman Catholic. Unlike her brother, who was sent to school, Elizabeth was educated with her sisters at home.Elizabeth suffered from a speech impediment.
Determined to act at a young age, Elizabeth worked hard to try to overcome her stammer, but her family discouraged her attempt in early 1770 to get an engagement at the Norwich Theatre. That same year her brother George became in actor. In April 1772, at the age of 18, Elizabeth went to London without permission to become an actress.Her stammer affected her performance and many audience members did not enjoy watching her on stage because of her speech impediment. Young and alone, she was apparently the victim of sexual harassment. Two months later, in June, she agreed to marry a fellow Catholic, the actor Joseph Inchbald (1735–1779), possibly at least partially for protection. Joseph at the time was not a well-known actor, was twice Elizabeth's age, and had two illegitimate sons. Elizabeth and Joseph did not have children together. The marriage was reported to have had difficulties. Elizabeth and Joseph appeared on the stage together for the first time on 4 September 1772 in Shakepeare's King Lear. In October 1772, the couple toured Scotland with West Digges's theatre company, a demanding life for nearly four years. In 1776, the couple made a move to France, where Joseph went to learn to paint and Elizabeth went to study the French language. In only one month, the couple became penniless. They moved to Liverpool and Inchbald met actors Sarah Siddons and her brother John Philip Kemble, both of whom became important friends after joining Joseph Younger's company. The Inchbalds subsequently moved to Canterbury and Yorkshire. In 1777, the couple was then hired by Tate Wilkinson's company.
After Joseph Inchbald's unexpected death in June 1779, Inchbald continued to act for several years, in Dublin, London, and elsewhere. She quarrelled publicly with Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797, when Wollstonecraft's marriage to William Godwin made it clear that she had not been married to Gilbert Imlay, the father of her elder daughter Fanny. This was deeply resented by Godwin.Her acting career, while only moderately successful, spanned 17 years and she appeared in many classical roles, as well as in new plays such as Hannah Cowley's The Belle's Stratagem .
Due to success as a playwright, Inchbald did not need the financial support of a husband and did not remarry. Between 1784 and 1805 she had 19 of her comedies, sentimental dramas, and farces (many of them translations from the French) performed at London theatres. Her first play to be performed was A Mogul Tale, in which she played the leading feminine role of Selina. In 1780, she joined the Covent Garden Company and played a breeches role in Philaster as Bellarion. Inchbald had a few of her plays produced such as Appearance is Against Them (1785), Such Things Are (1787), and Everyone Has Fault (1793). Some of her other plays such as A Mogul Tale (1784) and I'll Tell You What (1785) were produced at the Haymarket Theatre. Eighteen of her plays were published, though she wrote several more; the exact number is in dispute though most recent commentators claim between 21 and 23. Her two novels have been frequently reprinted. She also did considerable editorial and critical work. Her literary start began with writing for The Artist and Edinburgh Review.A four-volume autobiography was destroyed before her death upon the advice of her confessor, but she left some of her diaries. The latter are currently held at the Folger Shakespeare Library and an edition was recently published.
Her play Lovers' Vows (1798) was featured as a focus of moral controversy by Jane Austen in her novel Mansfield Park .
After her success, she felt she needed to give something back to London society, and decided in 1805 to try being a theatre critic.
A political radical and friend of William Godwin and Thomas Holcroft, her political beliefs can more easily be found in her novels than in her plays, due to the constrictive environment of the patent theatres of Georgian London."Inchbald's life was marked by tensions between, on the one hand, political radicalism, a passionate nature evidently attracted to a number of her admirers, and a love of independence, and on the other hand, a desire for social respectability and a strong sense of the emotional attraction of authority figures." She died on 1 August 1821 in Kensington and is buried in the churchyard of St Mary Abbots. On her gravestone it states, "Whose writings will be cherished while truth, simplicity, and feelings, command public admiration." In 1833, a two-volume Memoirs of Mrs. Inchbald by James Boaden was published by Richard Bentley.
In recent decades Inchbald has been the subject of increasing critical interest, particularly among scholars investigating women's writing.[ citation needed ]
The reception history of Elizabeth Inchbald is the story of an unknown actress who became a celebrated playwright and author. As an actress, who at the start of her career was overshadowed by her husband, Inchbald was determined to prove herself to the acting community. Some scholars recognized this describing her as "richly textured with strands of resistance, boldness, and libidinal thrills”.A very important aspect of Inchbald's reception history is her workplace and professional reputation. Around the theatre she was known for upholding high moral standards. Inchbald described having to defend herself from the sexual advances brought on by stage manager James Dodd and theatre manager John Taylor.
Her writing history began with various plays that Inchbald soon earned a reputation for publishing in times of political scandal.One of the things that separated Inchbald from her competitors at the time was her ability to translate plays from German and French into English works of art. These translations were popular with the public due to Inchbald's ability to make characters in her writings come to life. The majority of what she translated consisted of farces that received positive feedback from her reading audience. Over the next twenty years, she translated a couple of successful pieces a year, one of these was the very successful play, Lovers' Vows. In this translation of August von Kotzebues original piece, Inchbald gained complements from Jane Austen, who put the translation in her popular book, Mansfield Park. Although Austen's book brought more fame to Inchbald, Lovers' Vows ran for forty-two nights when it was originally performed in 1798. Not only were her plays well liked, but her famous novel A Simple Story always received praise. Terry Castle once referred to it as "the most elegant English fiction of the eighteenth century”. As she ended her career and decided to start critiquing in the theatre, the reception of her work from contemporary critics was low. For example, S. R. Littlewood suggested that Inchbald was ignorant of Shakespearian literature.
Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.
Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships at the time, received more attention than her writing. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and her works as important influences.
Maria Edgeworth was a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults' and children's literature. She was one of the first realist writers in children's literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe. She held views on estate management, politics and education, and corresponded with some of the leading literary and economic writers, including Sir Walter Scott and David Ricardo.
Elizabeth Barry was an English actress of the Restoration period.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1798.
Amelia Opie, néeAlderson, was an English author who published numerous novels in the Romantic Period of the early 19th century, through to 1828. Opie was also a leading abolitionist in Norwich, England. Amelia Opie's was the first of 187,000 names presented to the British Parliament on a petition from women to stop slavery.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1753.
Margaret Woffington, known professionally as Peg Woffington, was a British actress and socialite of the Georgian era.
Charlotte Lennox, néeRamsay, was a Scottish author and poet, mostly remembered today as the author of The Female Quixote, and for her association with Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Richardson. However, she had a long career in her own right, writing poetry, prose and drama.
Jane West, who published as Prudentia Homespun and Mrs. West, was an English novelist, poet, playwright, and writer of conduct literature and educational tracts.
The sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility is an 18th-century literary genre which celebrates the emotional and intellectual concepts of sentiment, sentimentalism, and sensibility. Sentimentalism, which is to be distinguished from sensibility, was a fashion in both poetry and prose fiction beginning in the eighteenth century in reaction to the rationalism of the Augustan Age.
Catherine Clive was a well-known English actress and occasional singer on the stages of London. She created the role of Dalila in Handel's 1743 oratorio Samson. She also did some writing.
Mary Hays (1759–1843) was an autodidact intellectual who published essays, poetry, novels and several works on famous women. She is remembered for her early feminism, and her close relations to dissenting and radical thinkers of her time including Robert Robinson, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and William Frend. She was born in 1759, into a family of Protestant dissenters who rejected the practices of the Church of England. Hays was described by those who disliked her as 'the baldest disciple of [Mary] Wollstonecraft' by The Anti Jacobin Magazine, attacked as an 'unsex'd female' by clergyman Robert Polwhele, and provoked controversy through her long life with her rebellious writings. When Hays's fiancé John Eccles died on the eve of their marriage, Hays expected to die of grief herself. But this apparent tragedy meant that she escaped an ordinary future as wife and mother, remaining unmarried. She seized the chance to make a career for herself in the larger world as a writer.
Hannah Brand (1754–1821) was an English actress and playwright. After her theater career, she became a governess.
Lovers' Vows (1798), a play by Elizabeth Inchbald arguably best known now for having been featured in Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park (1814), is one of at least four adaptations of August von Kotzebue's Das Kind der Liebe, all of which were published between 1798 and 1800. Inchbald's version is the only one to have been performed. Dealing as it does with sex outside marriage and illegitimate birth, Inchbald in the Preface to the published version declares herself to have been highly sensitive to the task of adapting the original German text for "an English audience." Even so, she left the setting as Germany.
Chawton House is a grade ll* listed Elizabethan manor house in Hampshire. It is run as a historic property and also houses the research library of The Centre for the Study of Early Women's Writing, 1600–1830, using the building's connection with the English novelist Jane Austen.
A Simple Story is a novel by English author and actress, Elizabeth Inchbald. Published in early 1791 as an early example of a "novel of passion", it was very successful and became widely read in England and abroad. It went into a second edition in March 1791. It is still in print today.
Henry Erskine Johnston (1777–1830?) was a Scottish actor.
Scottish literature in the eighteenth century is literature written in Scotland or by Scottish writers in the eighteenth century. It includes literature written in English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots, in forms including poetry, drama and novels. After the Union in 1707 Scottish literature developed a distinct national identity. Allan Ramsay led a "vernacular revival", the trend for pastoral poetry and developed the Habbie stanza. He was part of a community of poets working in Scots and English who included William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, Robert Crawford, Alexander Ross, William Hamilton of Bangour, Alison Rutherford Cockburn, and James Thompson. The eighteenth century was also a period of innovation in Gaelic vernacular poetry. Major figures included Rob Donn Mackay, Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir, Uillean Ross and Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, who helped inspire a new form of nature poetry. James Macpherson was the first Scottish poet to gain an international reputation, claiming to have found poetry written by Ossian. Robert Burns is widely regarded as the national poet.
London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013. Print.
| Library resources about |
|By Elizabeth Inchbald|