In A Life Marketed as Fiction, Karen Morton argues for a reevaluation of the prolific late eighteenth century author Eliza Parsons, who at age fifty was forced to begin writing novels to provide for her family after her husband's death. In her career, she published nineteen novels, spanning more than sixty volumes, but is chiefly remembered today as the author of two of the "horrid novels" mentioned in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.
In this book, the first full-length study of Parsons' works, Morton uncovers never before revealed biographical information about this elusive author and corrects the errors of previous scholars before turning to an in-depth analysis of Parsons' works. Included are chapters on her Gothic novels and her novels of contemporary manners, but Morton delves deeper and also looks for insight into the little-known Parsons by examining her prefaces, dedications, and the letters in which she solicited money. What emerges is a portrait of a fascinating, talented, and important neglected woman writer - an author who merits recognition as more than just a minor Gothic novelist.
Chapters in the book include: Introduction, Biography, Dedications, Prefaces, Requests for Money, Novels of Contemporary Manners, Gothic Novels, and Biographical Novels. Also included is an appendix containing the subscription list of the 437 subscribers to Parsons' first novel, The History of Miss Meredith (1790), the full text of all extant reviews of her works published between 1790 and 1807, and a bibliography.
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