Texts, Lies and the Marketplace:
Eliza Haywood and the Literary Marketplace
at Mid-Century
Catherine Ingrassia
Virginia Commonwealth University

     In trying to think of a title for this presentation, I longed for a way to make it sound relevant, non-academic and tremendously interesting. When dealing with a little-known, eighteenth-century women writer (three categories that make many shudder in fear of feminist polemic or utter boredom), the catchy phrase, the clever turn, the proverbial academic 'sexy title' sometimes seems elusive. I realized my search for titular titillation, as it were, was somewhat ironic in light the way Eliza Haywood, the subject of my talk today, was constructed as only a titillating, indeed scandalous writer by her literary contemporaries (and, unfortunately some of my academic ones). Alexander Pope certainly set the trend when, in the 1728 edition of the Dunciad, he made Haywood the first prize for the winner of the urinating contest; a chamber pot was the reward for the runner-up. Condemning her 'profligate licenciousness' and 'scandalous book[s],' Pope described her as one of "those shameless scribblers (for the most part of that sex, which ought least to be capable of such malice or impudence) who in libellous memoirs and novels, reveal the faults and misfortunes of both sexes to the ruin or disturbance, of public fame or private happiness."

     Eliza Haywood is often discussed mainly as a writer--of amatory fiction, periodicals or plays. Until recently many critics, like Haywood's contemporaries, cast her as a crafty, cunning manipulator of the literary marketplace (an image consistent with a broader construction of her as a scandalous female novelist). She is regarded as an author who produces literary commodities to be sold by others, someone who markets her texts and her authorial persona to accumulate a kind of credit within print culture. Such a characterization may be adequate to understand Haywood's activities in the 1720s, the decade of her greatest popularity, or even the 1730s, when she turned to dramatic texts working with Fielding at Little Haymarket.

     However, Haywood's activities in the 1740s confound that notion of her. During that decade, Haywood attempted to secure literary and financial 'success' (clearly a relative term) as something other than a novelist. Once amatory fiction lost its popularity, Haywood in a sense re-invented herself as not just as a write and but as a member of the print trade in control of marketing and selling her own texts and potentially those of others. By 1741 she opened her own bookseller's shop at the Sign of Fame in Covent Garden. Though she kept the shop less than a year, Haywood continued to operate as a distributor, and possibly printer/publisher of texts for the rest of the decade; yet her position was undefined, marginalized and ultimately unsustainable. Haywood achieved the lingering notoriety but only the fleeting financial and social success of someone always skirting the centers of power. She failed to shift successfully from a producer of imaginative to a producer/distributor of tangible commodities. Today I want to focus on the 1749 incident which casts Haywood's unmarked position within print culture into sharp relief and highlights the subtle forces of gender, class and genre which hindered her full entrance into that trade.

     In December 1749, a pamphlet entitled A Letter from H---G--g, Esq....To a Particular Friend appeared in various print shops in Fleet Street, Charing Cross and Peacock near Temple Bar. A narrative about the Young Stuart Pretender's journeys following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the pamphlet combined romantic fiction and loosely written political philosophy. Despite its potentially provocative subject matter--the travels of Bonnie Prince Charlie--the text itself was not particularly inflammatory. Nevertheless, its appearance provoked enough attention to have the alleged "Author, Printer and Publisher of [the] Scandalous Seditious and Treasonable Pamphlet," Eliza Haywood, taken up and, held in custody for "some weeks" by the messenger Carrington.(1)

     Simultaneously Four male booksellers, as well as the wife of printer George Woodfall, and Haywood's servant, were all examined by Lord Stanhope on December 12, 1749.(2) Haywood, previously excused because of 'illness', was interrogated a month later, on January 14, 1749/50; yet, from all available evidence, Haywood was never prosecuted.(3) In some respects this incident appears insignificant--Haywood was taken up but never prosecuted for a pamphlet that ultimately sold fewer than 100 copies. Yet the details in these examinations, drawn from PRO State Papers Domestic, provide a glimpse into the print trade of mid-eighteenth-century London and suggest that despite her acquired reputation for commercial savvy, during the decade of the 1740s Haywood was always slightly behind the power curve, imitating, appropriating scrambling to maintain a foothold in the profession, but unable to gain access to the machinery of print culture in which she wanted to participate.

     The four male booksellers questioned by Lord Stanhope (Barnes, Chappelle, Corbett and Jolliffee) all they claim that 25 copies of the pamphlet were left at their shop when they were not there. Though these pamphlets were left anonymously, the men seem certain that they were from Eliza Haywood.(4) Two of the booksellers, Corbett and Barnes, indicate they are "accountable" or "indebted" to Haywood for the pamphlets and that they typically settle their financial account with her at the end of the month. Although Corbett hadn't seen Haywood for four years, he, like the other booksellers, had apparently operated under this method of distribution and repayment before: "he has sold several things wrote and published by the sd. Mrs. Haywood and has paid her servant Maid for them." Corbett also expected to get the book "under the price it is published" because "to persons in the same trade a shilling pamphlet is always sold for nine pence and that he was to pay himself nine pence each to Mrs. Haywood."

     Corbett refers to Haywood as "a person from the Trade" suggesting her role as some sort of bookseller, and he observes that "she has been the author of many things which she publishes in the same manner she has published this."(5) The examination of Haywood's servant Hannah Stredden suggests that 'this same manner' entails a very limited means of production marked by instability, marginalization and localized distribution. Although Hannah Stredden claims not to know the author or printer of the pamphlet, she describes how "a large quantity of said pamphlets" appeared "in sheet" at Haywood's lodging, and that Stredden herself "stiched the said sheets into books and by the Directions of her Mistress, delivered them to the shops...[and] left word at those places where she came from and where they might have more."(6) If the Penny Post is correct in calling Haywood author, printer and publisher of the pamphlet (something Stredden's statement would seem to support), it suggests that she attempted to retain (or was forced to perform) all aspects of that trade (including distribution) herself.(7) Though her 1741/2 foray into the bookselling business would perhaps qualify Haywood as the 'person from the trade' Corbett describes, it seems increasingly apparent Haywood had a more complicated relationship with other booksellers as she functioned as an author, printer and distributor of texts, potentially a more difficult and precarious role.

     When finally examined in January, Haywood (in a departure from the other statements given) attempts to disassociate herself from most of the activity surrounding the pamphlets. She, of course, denies responsibility for authorship or assembly of these texts. She(8) states that 750 of the pamphlets were simply left at her Lodgings about two months earlier, something she claims happens to her often: "frequently...pamphlets have been left at her lodgings and she has not known from whome they come and...she has Distributed them at the shops and Received the money from them and...in about a month the proprietor came and the examinant accounted with him for the sale; but says that no body has yet demanded an account of her for the said pamphlets nor does she know who she must account to."(9) Haywood casts herself as a holder and distributor, someone who profits only in the most minimal way for labor very much not her own and who is ignorant about the individuals involved. She defines herself as largely uninvolved and uninformed. Yet the description of this purely financial arrangement conflicts with what her servant said about actually stiching the pamphlets which arrived in sheet.

     It seems likely Haywood is obscuring the situation when she claims the pamphlets 'appeared' at her lodgings, but her statement raises questions about the parameters of her role within the trade. Haywood may be describing a scaled-down version of her previous attempts at a bookseller's shop; she has kept her ties to printers, but only in rudimentary way. She no longer sells these things on her own, but, now a notch lower on the print trade hierarchy, acts only to assemble and distribute the texts that others have written and/or printed. The claim that she does not know to whom she must account could be her attempt to protect someone who has printed a potentially treasonable pamphlet. (And given Haywood's probable authorship of the pamphlet, it seems unlikely that she was unaware of the printer.) Her response (indeed her statement as a whole) seems designed to forestall further interrogation. Haywood's other responses also reveal her familiarity with stock means of avoiding incrimination. For example she claims that she has "lost her Eyesight about six months and kept her bed above two months," a potentially fanciful excuse typical of any number of people examined because of potentially 'treasonous' activities.'(10)

     Equally significant, perhaps is Haywood's claim that "she has been an author many years but never wrote anything in a political way." Attempting to assert her own innocence in this instance, Haywood denies a body of work that many would read as primarily political. Her periodicals of the 20s--The Tea Table and The Parrot, her anti-Walpole writings in the 1730s, and her 1746 periodical, also entitled The Parrot, all deal on some level with political issues. Her claim to not writing 'in a political way' might cause us to examine what she would have meant in a generic sense by the term 'political.' She could have had a fairly strict understanding of 'political' as referring perhaps to something specific in its details, intention or style. Most of Haywood's works which we would consider political are marked by a hybridization which complicates their generic characterization. Her periodicals contain vast amounts of fiction, her political writings use language and situations from amatory fiction, and her fiction often details 'political' situations. For example, the 1746 periodical The Parrot , which deals primarily with the aftermath of the '45, illustrates Haywood's attempt to capitalize on the continuing preoccupation with the Rebellion and the Young Pretender. Though only published for nine weeks, this periodical addresses charged political issues and topical concerns. Yet Haywood puts herself at a remove from those issues by self-consciously 'parroting' information about trials, executions and appointments--information she reasonably could have collected and digested from other publications. She describes executions with the hyperbolic terms found in her earlier fiction [quote]. Her narrative technique potentially speaks not to her lack of specific knowledge about politics (although that is probably a factor) but to fundamental generic instabilities that complicated both the writing and marketing of such a text--was fiction "political"? was political writing fictional?

The 1749 pamphlet on the Pretender(11) raises similar generic questions. Haywood combines the stylistics of her earlier amatory fiction and with specific descriptions of the Pretender's journeys on the Continent that echo news accounts. The text is presented as an alleged letter from Henry Goring, a Gentlemen of the Chevalier's Bedchamber, a technique that allows Haywood to describe both a public and private persona: the Pretender as civic humanist who conforms to a social ideal of aristocratic honor. Similarly she offers political philosophy on the appropriate actions of the monarch as well as describing the Pretender's romantic escapades. She makes him personally desirable to increase his political viability.(12) Consequently, the text, and its subject, are both generic hybrids. Significantly, Haywood uses a moment of sexual continence to exemplify best his monarchical nature. When he sees a house on fire, he rescues a beautiful young woman (in the requisite state of dishabille) from her bed. While the scene is written like (and mistaken for) a seduction, the episode becomes an example of the virtue of sexual restraint: "I am not a Stoick...but I have been always taught that Pleasures, how pardonable soever they may be themselves, become highly criminal when indulged to the prejudice of another.--it would then have been an Action unworthy of my real character under a feigned Name, to rob her of her Innocence;" (25). In a manner reminiscent of Richardson's Pamela, Haywood titillates her reader but rather than punctuate the moment with a lesson about female morality, she instead uses the opportunity to discuss personal and political virtue. H--G-- observes that the Pretender's abstinence is another example of his "proving those Virtues, which, though most admire, few are able to imitate" (18); " Ah! How fit is he to govern others, who knows so well how to govern himself" (26). This type of discussion might be political in the broadest sense of the word, but it is not really all that inflammatory.

     While Haywood would seem to have published the pamphlet to profit (or survive) in a literary or financial sense, the result was sharply different. At first, the pamphlet appearing four years after the '45 seems another example of Haywood's bad timing. Fewer than 100 copies of the pamphlet sold (something Haywood attributed to the recent elections). However it also suggests that there was no longer a sustained interest in the Pretender. Similarly, although the government cited seditious treason as the cause of the interest, the taking up of Haywood and the examinations of the booksellers might have been designed to harass or assert control rather than to pursue any real legal action. Or it might have been used just to explore the origins of this pamphlet and gain information. The failure to prosecute certainly suggests that Haywood and her poorly selling text were not perceived as a threat due to lack of public interest. Indeed The Monthly Review claimed that Haywood's arrest, and the confiscation of all copies of the text, caused them to "be rescued from a fate they might otherwise have undergone, that of being turned into wastepaper."(13) From the government's perspective, the level of concern for any sort of treasonable words, actions or publications had been very high immediately following the Rebellion of '45, but by the time the pamphlet was published things had changed slightly.(14) Newspapers seem to be of greater concern: for example the printers and publishers of The London Evening Post were investigated and prosecuted in November and December 1749. Attention was also focused on texts that were considered obscene; John Purser, publisher of Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplified(15) and Ralph Griffith, printer and publisher of "a scandalous and obscene Book entitled Memoirs of Fanny Hill" were both prosecuted.(16) There appears to have been a shift in interest toward the moral rather than political dangers of print, as well as a greater interest in publications that reported 'facts' rather than fictionalized accounts of a political figure. The government action (or inaction), like the pamphlet itself, reveals the generic instabilities that still challenged authors and cultural perception more broadly. The ambiguous nature of the text, like Haywood's multiple roles within the print trade, complicate and at times defy categorization.

     Though considered a 'person from the trade,' Haywood clearly did not enjoy a great measure of success. "The middle decades of the 18th century were not a period of expansion for the book trades" (Gallagher 151) and Haywood's inability to secure a foothold in the material production and sale of texts seems in one way a function of her class, lack of status and marginalized position. Yet it is also clear from the available evidence that Haywood did not enjoy the benefits of the more intangible (and perhaps more meaningful) relationships individuals have to sources of power. A month after the initial examination of the booksellers taken up for handling Haywood's text, one of these bookseller's--John Jolliffee--wrote a letter to a government official [Thomas Ramfost] in which he attempts to extricate himself from any involvement with Haywood's pamphlet.(17) In his letter he reveals that if he "could produce a line from" this individual, Lord Stanhope would be persuaded to "erase [his] name" from the incident. Additionally, Jolliffee has applied to Lord Trentham, for whom he printed handbills in the last election. Lord Trentham, in turn, spoke to the Grace of Bedford on Jolliffee's behalf. The letter subtly reveals how a bookseller like Jollifee could attempt to insulate himself from legal ramifications through a network of connections--Trentham, Stanhope, Bedford--in a way that someone like Haywood could not due to her fundamental lack of access to the mechanisms of [almost exclusively male] power. Jolliffee's access to the lines of power, like his position within the trade, seems as clear as Haywood's does undefinable. This entire incident underscores the varied indeed hybrid nature of Haywood's involvement with the print industry during this period. As a female author, she writes fictionalized political pieces that attempt to titillate, educate and persuade. As a member of the print trade, she performs (or delegates) duties of bookseller, printer and author. Yet she assumes no responsibility for those actions. She is everywhere, yet her presence is unmarked. As one bookseller admits, he "believes" Haywood is responsible for the pamphlet, "tho he has no...reason for his belief." In the 1740s Haywood struggled to redefine her own professional experience as she transferred her energies from producing texts which provide her with literary 'credit' to producing texts that also have a material form, texts as 'property'. Haywood tried a variety of professional and discursive positions, but ultimately returned to the novel with The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless in 1751. Her failure appears to stem as much from the trade's inability to categorize her within a specific role as it does her own difficulty in creating and sustaining a viable position for herself within the marketplace.


1.The Penny London Post, No. 1197. Haywood also clearly knew Carrington and his professional responsibilities since she also mentions him in The Parrot.


2.PRO SP 36/111 71-76. In Notes and Queries (December 1989 475-477), Tom Lockwood mentions the arrest but, surprisingly, does not discuss the examination of Haywood herself, which occurred almost a month after these (SP 36/112 24) or that of Haywood's servant, Hannah Stredden. Both of these depositions provide information that significantly enhances and illuminates our understanding of the event.


3. There are many ways to check to see if a seditious libel has been prosecuted, including PRO KB 15/54 which is a list of all prosecutions for seditious libels. The prosecution of Haywood does not appear. Additionally, all the other locations in which Haywood's case should appear if it prosecuted have no evidence of her prosecution.


4.PRO SP 36/111 72


5.PRO SP 36/111 72.


6.PRO SP 36/111 76


7.It is important to note that Haywood's failure to sustain her shop is certainly suggestive of the increasing limited opportunities for women in the material and production aspects of the trade as the century progressed. But it is also indicative of the difficulties for anyone to enter the trade at this point in the century. For discussions of the (typically unequal) relationship between author and publisher and the printing industry generally see (for example) A. S. Collins, Authorship in the Days of Johnson (1927), John Feather, A History of British Publishing (1988), Isabel Rivers, ed., Books and Their Readers in Eighteenth-century England (1982), and Robin Myers, The Stationers' Company Archives (1988).


8. In the examination, Haywood is named as Elizabeth Haywood, of Durham Yard in the Strand, Widow. Parish registers from this period complicate what we possibly know about Haywood. During the period following her arrest, there is no Haywood recorded as living at Durham Yard which is in St. Martin in the Fields parish. There are, however, many anonymous assessments there (all very low) and Haywood could easily be one of them. The June/November 1749 assessments for New Street and Befordbury Wards in St. Martin in the Fields lists a "Widow Haywood" at Castle Court Lane (F523 E 17). She also appears in the 1748 rate book. In 1749 she was assessed 11.8 at the first and second rate, but her column was never totaled. This failure to pay could indicate that she moved (possibly to Durham Yard?) or could not pay. In the 1750 rate book for St. Martin in the Fields, New Street Ward, lists a "Haywood, Widw" at Little St. Martin's Lane. Again the assessment is low (0-12-0) both rates and again the column is not totaled out (F525 f.99). Since assessments were typically done in June and November, it is possible that Haywood lived at Durham Yard for only a few months between her Castle Lane and St. Martin's Lane address. If so, that would suggest a very peripatetic (and none too prosperous) existence for Haywood during this time. Another explanation is, of course, that neither 'widow Haywood" is Eliza Haywood.


9.PRO SP 36 112/24


10. While there are any number of medical complications that would cause Haywood's blindness, it seems more likely that she claimed blindness to avoid prosecution, a common ploy by those working on the margins of legality. More telling is her intentional 'blindness' to the activities surrounding her.


11. The full title is A Letter From H---- G--g, Esq.; One of the Gentlemen of the Bed-Chamber to the young Chevalier, and the only Person of his own Retinue that attended him from Avignon, in his late Journey through Germany, and elsewhere: containing Many remarkable and affecting occurrences which happened to the P----during the Course of his Mysterious Progress. To a Particular Friend (London, 1750). Significantly there is no printer imprint. The presumed authorial persona is Henry Goring who traveled with the Pretender after Culloden. In the preface, the 'editor' explains that he lives in an apartment formerly occupied by the intended recipient (a man "of almost the same Name with myself, a single consonant making all the difference" (3) ). While hesitant initially to publish it, he is compelled by "the Regard owing from me to the Publick" (iv).


12.The full title is The Parrot, with a Compendium of the Times. By the Authors of the Female Spectator. The imprint is London: Printed and published by T. Garner, at Cowley's Head...1746.


13.The Monthly Review. A Periodical Work, Giving An Account, with proper abstracts of, and Extracts from, the New Books, Pamphlets, &c. as they come out. Vol II London January 1750 p. 167.


14.See for example SP 44/133, the secretary's entry books in the months following the Rebellion, in which any number of 'seditious' actions (from toasting the Pretender to cursing the King) were reported and prosecuted.


15. PRO SP 44/133 f.9


16. PRO SP 44/134 f.28; cf. PRO KB 15/54; Meres indictment in KB 10/29 Part 1 Hilary 23 George II; Purser, crown side affidavit, KB 1/10 part I Hilary 23.


17.SP 36/112 34 January 18, 1749/50.