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Showing posts from October, 2020

Ignored, patronized and mislabeled: Eliza Haywood and The Female Spectator

I have been reading a selection of articles from The Female Spectator in an edition selected and edited by Mary Priestley and published in 1929. The introduction is by the writer J B Priestley (1894–1984), who was Mary’s brother. Generally, introductions tend to display at least some respect for the author whose work follows. Priestley takes a different approach: he uses his introduction to demolish Haywood’s credibility, deny her talent, and belittle her achievement. The Female Spectator was conceived, written and edited by Eliza Haywood (1693?–1756). It was modelled on the Spectator, a paper run by Richard Steele and Joseph Addison from 1711 to 1712, but it broke new ground in being the first magazine for women written by women. It was, says Priestley, the “ancestress” of modern women’s periodicals, although “like an ancestress, it is of course wildly different from anything we know now.” Eliza Haywood, Priestley tells us, had   “tried her hand at many things” before she bec