A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood

By Kathryn R. King | Go to book overview

3
THEATRICAL THIRTIES: 1729–37

Around 1729, Haywood began redirecting her energies towards the theatre, and it was probably at this time that she entered into friendly relations with two playwrights, William Hatchett and Henry Fielding, who would figure importantly in her professional life for the next two decades. She did not leave off print production altogether during the 1730s. In addition to Eovaai, discussed in the next chapter, she published a ‘sequel’ to her very popular upmarket translation La Belle Assemblée, which appeared in 1734 under the title L’Entretien des Beaux Esprits, and a volume of theatre commentary entitled The Dramatic Historiographer (1735).1 All appeared anonymously. The sparseness of her print output combined with information collected in The London Stage suggests that she had thrown herself into the theatre in the 1730s, and was more heavily involved in the day-to-day activities of the playhouse than at any time since the summer of 1723, when she played the leading role in A Wife to be Lett at Drury Lane.

The old view that the ‘torrent of filthy abuse’ in The Dunciad cut deeply into Haywood’s psyche and inflicted lasting damage on her career no long prevails.2 Students of the career now recognize that far from being silenced, Haywood not only survived but thrived in the immediate post-Dunciad period. It can now be added that it makes good professional sense that she would return to the stage in the late 1720s. The breakaway success of Beggar’s Opera in 1728 had re-energized the theatre and boosted the professional prospects for playwrights and players alike. Haywood’s first response to the expanded opportunities seems to have been a play designed to appeal to the royal family. In March 1729, a little over a year after the The Beggar’s Opera had become in Fielding’s words ‘the whole Talk and Admiration of the Town’, her tragedy Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh was staged at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.3 The following year she took the lead role in Hatchett’s The Rival Father at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, the theatre with which she would be associated throughout the heady pre-Licensing Act days that ended in April 1737.

Some have seen her return to the stage as a calculated attempt to trade on the notoriety conferred by The Dunciad and there may be some truth in that, but the full story cannot be told without reference to developments in the London thea-

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A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Eighteenth-Century Political Biographies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Biographical Prolegomenon xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - ‘Her Approach to Fame’- 1714–29 17
  • 2 - Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to Utopia 35
  • 3 - Theatrical Thirties- 1729–37 55
  • 4 - AD Ventures of Eovaai 73
  • 5 - At the Sign of Fame- 1741–4 95
  • 6 - The Female Spectator 111
  • 7 - The Parrot 133
  • 8 - Epistles for the Ladies 155
  • 9 - Was Haywood a Jacobite? 177
  • Epilogue- the Invisible Spy 193
  • Notes 203
  • Works Cited 243
  • Index 259
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