A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood

By Kathryn R. King | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE: THE INVISIBLE SPY

The Invisible Spy, a four-volume work published in 1754 after three-and-a-half decades of writing for the public, is Haywood’s last major work and a fascinating reprise of themes that have emerged in this study. Paula Backscheider, who is one of the few critics to have given thought to this ‘almost unknown work’, writes that it is about ‘the power of print – ethical, economic, and political’, and she is right.1 The Invisible Spy is about many other things as well, but crucially it is a meditation on authorship in the time of politics, publicity and the emerging public sphere and, perhaps because it engages so thoughtfully what might be called the ‘media issues’ of her moment, it brings us into contact with a Haywood who seems almost postmodern. Just when one seems to be getting a grasp on this most slippery of writers, she gives us ‘Explorabilis’, the ‘author’ of The Invisible Spy, a multiple, fluid and elusive figure who is at once male and gender-indeterminate, self-revealing and self-concealing. The invisible observer seems a figure for Haywood herself, not least in the way he/she deliberately teases the reader with what can and cannot be known about an author at a time when print enabled the construction of a ‘hundred different identities’: ‘Some will doubtless take me for a philosopher, others for a fool; – with some I shall pass for a man of pleasure; – with others for a stoic; – some will look upon me as a courtier; – others as a patriot; – but whether I am any one of these, or whether I am even a man or a woman, they will find it, after all their conjectures, as difficult to discover as the longitude.’2

The Invisible Spy was one of her more popular works, as Spedding notes, and the fact that it went through seven editions in English and was translated into German suggests the possibility of a broadly European readership.3 But was it recognized as ‘a Haywood’? The marketing campaign, which began in November 1754, appears to have involved deliberate obfuscation. The bulk of the considerable advance publicity was placed in the two papers that we know could be relied upon to work in tandem as the primary relay stations in the Haywood publicity circuit, Whitehall Evening Post and London Evening Post, and as usual the campaign was a coordinated effort involving Gardner, Charles Corbett the younger, and the proprietors of the London Evening Post. The Whitehall Evening Post led with advance notices, again as usual, the first on 26 October. On 12

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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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