The Mary Carleton Narratives, 1663-1673: A Missing Chapter in the History of the English Novel

The Mary Carleton Narratives, 1663-1673: A Missing Chapter in the History of the English Novel

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The Mary Carleton Narratives, 1663-1673: A Missing Chapter in the History of the English Novel

The Mary Carleton Narratives, 1663-1673: A Missing Chapter in the History of the English Novel

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Two hundred and fifty years ago every Londoner had heard of the audacious adventuress Mary Carleton. To-day she is almost unknown; and the only modern account of her, -- that in the Dictionary of National Biography , -- is unreliable. Mary, whose father's name was Moders, was born in Canterbury in 1634 or 1635. She ran away from her first husband, a shoemaker, in 1658, married a second in Dover, and escaped punishment for bigamy only through the failure of her first husband to appear against her. She ran away again, -- whither we know not; but in 1663 she stepped out of obscurity into almost national prominence.

She appeared in London, took lodgings at an inn, and professed to be a high-born German lady, whose noble relations had wished to force her into a distasteful marriage. By the aid of forged letters from abroad, by a liberal display of false jewelry, and by the possession of remarkable audacity, resourceful capabilities, and charm, she imposed successfully upon all that met her, and came to be known as the German Princess. A young student of the law, John Carleton, aided by his rapacious relatives, pretended to be a lord, and in April of the same year, 1663, won her affectedly reluctant consent to marriage. A few weeks after the wedding, the real circumstances of her past were discovered by the Carletons, and Mary was arrested for bigamy.

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