Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Haywood, Eliza

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HAYWOOD, Mrs. ELIZA (1693?–1756), authoress, daughter of a London tradesman named Fowler, is said to have contracted at an early age a marriage, which proved unhappy, with a man named Haywood. Literary enemies represented that her character was bad, and that she had two illegitimate children, one by a peer, and the other by a bookseller (Curll, Key to the Dunciad, p. 12). Her friends asserted, on the other hand, that her husband, Haywood, was the father of her two children, and that, when he abandoned her and them, she was driven to the stage, and ultimately to literature, in order to support them. She seems to admit ‘little inadvertencies’ in her own life (cf. Female Dunciad, p. 18), but her novels hardly suggest that their author was personally immoral. She owed her evil reputation to the freedom with which she followed the example of Mrs. Manley in introducing into her romances scandals about the leaders of contemporary society, whose names she very thinly veiled.

Mrs. Haywood first appeared in public as an actress at Dublin in 1715 or earlier, but soon came to London. Steele, to whom she dedicated a collection of her novels in 1725, described, in the ‘Tatler’ for 23 April 1709, a visit which he paid to ‘Sappho, a fine lady who writes, sings, dances, and can say and do whatever she pleases without the imputation of anything that can injure her character.’ Again, in the ‘Tatler’ for 12 July 1709, Steele refers to his intimacy with Sappho, and writes more respectfully of her. The editors of the ‘Tatler’ identify Steele's Sappho with Mrs. Haywood, but the dates scarcely admit of the identification (cf. Tatler, ed. Nichols, 1786, i. 54, ii. 50; ib. ed. Chalmers, 1806, i. 54, 427). On settling in London Mrs. Haywood was employed in 1721 by the theatrical manager Rich to rewrite a manuscript tragedy, in blank verse, entitled ‘The Fair Captive,’ by a Captain Hurst. Her version was acted without success at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre on 4 March 1721, with Quin in the chief part (Mustapha), and it was published in the same year with a dedication to Lord Gage (cf. Genest, iii. 59–60). Two years later she wrote a comedy, ‘A Wife to be Lett.’ This was acted at Drury Lane, 12 Aug. 1723, and in the absence (it was stated), through indisposition, of the actress to whom the heroine's part (Mrs. Graspall) was assigned, Mrs. Haywood herself undertook that rôle, and also spoke the epilogue (ib. iii. 113–14). The piece was published in 1724. Once again she tempted fortune with a tragedy, ‘Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh,’ which was acted at Lincoln's Inn Fields, 4 March 1729 (ib. iii. 241–2), and published immediately afterwards, with a dedication to Frederick, prince of Wales, and a disclaimer of any intention of reflecting on current politics. Her only other association with the theatre was as collaborator with William Hatchett in the libretto of ‘Opera of Operas, or Tom Thumb the Great … set to music … by Mr. Lampe,’ an adaptation of Fielding's ‘Tragedy of Tragedies,’ which was successfully performed at the Haymarket and Drury Lane theatres in 1733 (ib. iii. 408).

Meanwhile Mrs. Haywood had become known as a voluminous writer of fiction. Her earliest novels dealt conventionally, if at times somewhat licentiously, with the trials and temptations of virtuous ladies. She wrote clearly and brightly, and her books sold rapidly. ‘Love in Excess, or the Fatal Enquiry’ reached a fifth edition in 1724. In the same year appeared ‘A Spy on the Conjurer, or a Collection of … Stories with … Letters’ relating to Duncan Campbell [q. v.], ‘revised by Mrs. Eliz. Haywood.’ This work has been wrongly claimed for Defoe. It was doubtless concocted wholly by Mrs. Haywood (cf. W. Lee, Life of Defoe, i. 327). In 1725 appeared her ‘Tea Table, or a Conversation between some polite Persons of both Sexes at a Lady's Visiting Day,’ and there, as in her novel of the ‘Injur'd Husband, or Mistaken Resentment’ (Dublin, 1724), she warned her readers in an advertisement that she had ‘no particular persons or families in view.’ But in her ‘Memoirs of a certain Island adjacent to Utopia, written by a celebrated author of that country. Now translated into English’ (London, 1725, 2 vols. 8vo), she introduced many scandalous episodes, and appended a ‘key’ in which the fictitious names in her narrative were identified with well-known living persons (through their initials). The success of ‘Utopia’ led Mrs. Haywood to produce in 1727 a similar work, ‘The Secret History of the Present Intrigues of the Court of Caramania,’ also with a ‘key.’ These two ‘most scandalous’ works excited the wrath of Pope, and some of the bitterest and coarsest lines in the ‘Dunciad’ (1728) ridicule Mrs. Haywood (bk. ii. ll. 157 sq.). In the early editions Pope represents her as one of the prizes for which Curll and Chapman, the publisher of her ‘Utopia,’ race against each other. In the final edition Osborne's name was substituted for Chapman's, but in all Mrs. Haywood is won by Curll. In a note on the passage, Pope describes her as one of those ‘shameless scribblers … who, in libellous memoirs and novels, reveal the faults or misfortunes of both sexes, to the ruin of public fame or disturbance of private happiness.’ Mrs. Haywood seems to have mildly retaliated by contributing a few pages to the ‘Female Dunciad,’ 1729 (a collection of scurrilous attacks on Pope made by Curll). Mrs. Haywood there speaks well of Curll, but despite Pope's assumption that Curll and Mrs. Haywood were closely associated in business, their only connection seems to have sprung from a desire to avenge themselves on Pope. Pope's attack was repeated by his friends. Swift wrote of her (26 Oct. 1731) to the Countess of Suffolk, who seems to have feared her pen, as a ‘stupid, infamous, scribbling woman’ (Swift, Works, ed. Scott, xvii. 430). Lord Peterborough, in a letter to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1735, denied that Pope referred to Lady Mary in a well-known passage in his first satire. He represented that Pope had assured him that such women as Mrs. Centlivre, Mrs. Haywood, Mrs. Manley, and Mrs. Behn were alone the objects of his satire (Pope, Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iii. 279). Horace Walpole wrote contemptuously of her as the counterpart of Mrs. Behn on 10 June 1743 (Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 251). Mrs. Haywood's later works of fiction were for the most part inoffensive, although she has been credited with one later effort in slanderous literature, viz. ‘The Fortunate Foundlings, being the Genuine History of Colonel M—rs and his sister Madame de P—y, the issue of the Hon. Ch—s. M—rs, son of the late Duke of R—l—d,’ 1744, 12mo (Halkett and Laing).

In an advertisement appended to vol. i. of ‘The Virtuous Villager, or Virgin's Victory, being the Memoirs of a Great Lady at the Court of France, written by herself’ (London, 1742, 2 vols. 8vo: a translation by Mrs. Haywood from the Chevalier Mouhi's ‘Le Paysan Parvenu’), ‘Eliza Haywood’ is described as a publisher at the sign of ‘Fame’ in Covent Garden. Only two books appear on her list of publications, and her career in the profession was probably brief. Between 1744 and 1746, in association with some friends, she issued in twenty-four monthly parts ‘The Female Spectator,’ a collection of moral tales and reflections. It was reissued in 4 vols. with a frontispiece, showing four ladies seated at a table (1745–6), and the volumes were dedicated respectively to the duchesses of Leeds, Bedford, and Queensberry, and the Duchess-dowager of Manchester. There followed a like venture, ‘The Parrot, with a Compendium of the Times,’ nine numbers of a periodical issued weekly between 2 Aug. and 4 Oct. 1746. To one of Mrs. Haywood's later novels—‘The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy’ (1753, 12mo, 3 vols.; another edit. 1785, 8vo)—Sir Walter Scott refers at the close of his ‘Old Mortality,’ and makes an old lady praise it as being ‘indeed pathos itself.’ Mrs. Haywood's latest works were ‘The Wife, by Mira, one of the authors of the “Female Spectator,”’ London, 1756, 12mo, and ‘The Husband in Answer to the Wife,’ London, 1756, 12mo. Mrs. Haywood died, after an illness of three months, apparently in London, on 25 Feb. 1756.

A collected edition of the novels, plays, and poems which Mrs. Haywood had written at the time appeared in 1724 in four volumes. To it was prefixed her portrait by Kirkall, to which Pope makes contemptuous allusion in the ‘Dunciad.’ Another portrait by Parmentier was engraved by Vertue. In 1725 appeared her ‘Secret Histories, Novels, and Poems,’ a shorter collection (2 vols.), dedicated to Steele.

Besides the works already mentioned Mrs. Haywood published (all in London): 1. ‘The British Recluse, or the Secret History of Cleomira, suppos'd dead,’ 1722, 8vo; 3rd edit., Dublin, 1724. 2. ‘Idalia, or the Unfortunate Mistress,’ 1723. 3. ‘Lassellia, or the Self-Abandon'd,’ 1724. 4. ‘The Rash Resolve, or the Untimely Resolve,’ 1724. 5. ‘Letters of a Lady of Quality to a Chevalier,’ 1724. 6. ‘Poems on several occasions,’ 1724. 7. ‘The Surprise,’ 1725. 8. ‘The Fatal Secret,’ 1725. 9. ‘Fantomima, or Love in a Maze,’ 1725. 10. ‘Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, being the Secret History of her Life. Translated from the French,’ London, 1725, 8vo. 11. ‘The Disguis'd Prince, or the Beautiful Parisian,’ 1728 (from the French). 12. ‘The Fair Hebrew,’ anon., 1729. 13. ‘Persecuted Virtue, or the Cruel Lover,’ anon., 1729. (This and the former book are ascribed to Mrs. Haywood in an advertisement-sheet in her tragedy of ‘Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh.’) 14. ‘Love Letters on all occasions. Lately passed between persons of Distinction,’ 1730, 8vo. 15. ‘La Belle Assemblée, a curious collection of some very remarkable incidents which happened to Persons of Quality; translated from the French of Mdme. de Gomez,’ 1732 (?), 4th edit. 4 vols. 12mo. 16. ‘L'Entretien des Beaux Esprits,’ a sequel to ‘La Belle Assemblée,’ containing twelve novels, 1734, 2 vols., dedicated to Charles Seymour, duke of Somerset. 17. ‘The Unfortunate Princess [of Ijaveo], interspersed with several curious and entertaining Novels,’ London, 1741, dedicated to the Duchess-dowager of Marlborough. 18. ‘A Present for a Servant Maid, or the sure means of gaining Love and Esteem,’ 1743, 8vo. 19. ‘The Fruitless Enquiry. Being a Collection of several entertaining Histories and Occurrences which fell under the Observation of a Lady in her search after Happiness,’ 1747, 12mo, dedicated to Lady Elizabeth Germain. 20. ‘The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless,’ 1751, 12mo, 4 vols.; another edit. 1783, 8vo. 21. ‘Invisible Spy’ (Watt). 22. ‘Adventures of Nature’ (ib.) 23. ‘Epistles for the Ladies,’ 2 vols. (ib.) 24. ‘History of Leonora Meadowson,’ 1788, 12mo, 2 vols.

[Authorities cited; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Baker's Biog. Dram.; Pope's Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iv. 141, 330; Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anonymous Lit.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Brit. Mus. Cat., where far fewer works than those noticed here are assigned to Mrs. Haywood. The initials of the living persons mentioned in the keys to Mrs. Haywood's ‘Utopia’ and ‘Caramania’ are expanded in a contemporary hand in the British Museum copies.]

S. L. L.