American Women Writers to 1800

By Sharon M. Harris | Go to book overview

Novels

Susanna Haswell Rowson (1761-1824)

Born in Portsmouth, England, Susanna Haswell came to America with her parents, Susanna Musgrave and William Haswell, in 1768. Her early education in the classics and a life of comfort were halted by the onset of the Revolutionary War. William Haswell's Tory sympathies led first to the confinement of the Haswell family and later to their removal to England. Impoverished by these events, the family struggled to regain its economic stability, and Susanna aided the family by working as a governess until her marriage to the merchant William Rowson in 1786.

Marriage, however, did not bring economic security; when her husband failed in his business ventures, Haswell Rowson supported the family through her writings and on the stage. In 1792 she settled in Boston, her home for the next quarter century. While directing a school for young women, she continued to write novels, poetry, plays, short stories, and textbooks. Her early novels are rarely acknowledged today, but Haswell Rowson's fourth novel, Charlotte Temple ( 1791), became America's first best-selling novel. Susanna Haswell Rowson died in her adopted city of Boston on March 2, 1824.

Selected Works: Victoria ( 1786); The Inquisitor; or, Invisible Rambler ( 1788); Mary; or, The Test of Honor ( 1789); Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth ( 1791); Mentoria; or, The Young Ladies Friend ( 1791); Rebecca; or, The Fille de Chambre ( 1792); Trials of the Human Heart ( 1795); Reuben and Rachel; or, Tales of Old Times ( 1798). Bibliography: Castiglia; Davidson, introduction to Charlotte Temple; Davidson, Revolution and the Word; Weil.


From Charlotte Temple1

Chapter VI. An Intriguing Teacher.

Madame Du Pont was a woman every way calculated to take the care of young ladies, had that care entirely devolved on herself; but it was impos-

____________________
1
Chapters II through V of the novel outline Charlotte's ancestors; in Chapter VI she has been sent to Madame Du Pont's finishing school.

-393-

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American Women Writers to 1800
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Note on the Text xii
  • Introduction 3
  • I- The Ages of Women 31
  • Youthful Reflections 41
  • On Women''s Education 63
  • Domestic Records 79
  • Businesswomen''s Writings 105
  • "Death-Bed" Declarations Skate''Ne (choctaw) 123
  • II- Emerging Feminist Voices 133
  • Feminist Visions 137
  • III- Origins, Revolutions, and Women in the Nations 161
  • First Women 173
  • Spiritual Narratives 197
  • Captivity Narratives and Travel Journals 217
  • Epistolary Exchanges 235
  • Petitions, Political Essays, and Organizational Tracts 251
  • Revolutionary War Writings 269
  • Poetry 303
  • Histories 349
  • Drama 373
  • Novels 393
  • Notably Early American Women 413
  • Selected Bibliography 421
  • Index 432
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