Eliza Haywood: The Rise of the Woman Novelist and Her Response to Feminine Desire Through the Form of the Masquerade

The very form of the sentence does not fit her.

It is a sentence made by men;

It is too loose,

Too heavy,

Too pompous for a woman's use

-Virginia Woolf, in her Collected Essays, 'Modern Fiction.'

Eliza Haywood's novels are important documents not only of women's history, but also of literary, social, and moral tensions of their time. Her stories are usually told with a considerable amount of what Mary Anne Schofield calls "narrative energy" (116), detailing the plight of a woman whose tales of passion and strife are detailed by a world indifferent to her as a woman. She was an "aggressive writer," who made important comments upon the position and role of women during the eighteenth century.

This was a crucial time in history for women as writers. They had absolutely no rights, no individual existence or identity, and the very act of writing, particularly for a public audience, was in essence an assertion of individuality and autonomy, and often an act of defiance. To write was to be; it was to create and to exist. It was to construct and control a worldview without the interference from men. No woman writer could be oblivious to this notion, they had to know the consequences of writing and...

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