Ethelinda: Or, the Fair Maid of the Inn. An Interesting Tale

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Ann Lemoine and J. Roe
Publication Year: 1812
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.8cm x 16.8cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.R66 1800z no.3

Material History

In this copy of Ethelinda; or, The Fair Maid of the Inn. An Interesting Tale, the binding is shared with four other chapbooks, with The Fair Maid fitting directly between the four others. This suggests that the previous owner collected the five chapbooks separately and had them sewn together and glued to the binding. This is evident in the stitching seen in the book. The pages themselves are yellowed and stained with dirt and ink smudges on numerous pages. The brittle feel of the paper and the bleeding of the ink from one page to the next suggest that the paper is of cheap quality. The full title of the chapbook is displayed on the title page adjacent to the frontispiece, but “The Fair Maid” is also printed again on one side of each page in the large header space. While the header of each page separating the text from the edge is quite large, the side margins are much slimmer. This, along with the gutter space and font of Ethelinda, is unlike the other chapbooks, suggesting that they were, in fact, printed separately and later combined. On the bottom of certain pages is a signature—a letter, sometimes accompanied by a number—which serves as a guide for the binder to know how to fold the printed sheets into the correct order based on the page number.

The frontispiece of Ethelinda depicts a lady standing at the front of an inn accompanied by a gentleman. “The Fair Maid” is printed under the illustration in a box, and below the box on the bottom left corner is the Latin phrase “w.b.del,” which translates to “he or she drew it.” On the bottom right corner is “S.Sharps” with the final “s” printed as a long S that looks like an f. There is another illustration on the bottom of page 36 that depicts a hooded figure lying on its side, reaching for an object beside it. On the title page adjacent to the frontispiece, the publishers, J. Roe and Ann Lemoine, are acknowledged at the bottom of the page. The title page also displays the cost of the book, which at the time sold for sixpence. Not included on the title page is an author, which remains unknown.

The inside of the binding holding the five chapbooks has several markings, possibly done by the collectors. Located at the top of the inside of the binding are the words “chap book,” “4 vol,” and “pat-” with a part of the word scribbled over. There is also writing that could be read as “coloured” or “colonel” followed by another word that appears to start with an “L”. Along with the scribblings is a sticker that seems to have been ripped off with only half the sticker and some unintelligible writing remaining.

The binding itself is a reddish-pink color and appears to be some sort of board covered in a paper material. The spine of the book is blueish green and has a sticker reading “Romances.” Ethelinda; or, The Fair Maid of the Inn An Interesting Tale is a total of 36 pages from its frontispiece to its last page, and the dimensions of the entire book containing all five chapbooks are 10.8 cm across and 16.8 cm from top to bottom.

Textual History

Ethelinda: or, the Fair Maid of the Inn is a chapbook written by an unknown author and published by J. Roe and Ann Lemoine, two well-known publishers in the gothic chapbook world. Roe and Lemoine utilized a form of printmaking called aquaintint printing which served as a turning point in printing and publication (Potter 6). Lemoine is also recognized for her marketing techniques, which popularized gothic chapbooks among the middle classes. Additionally, she ushered in a new trend of publishing chapbooks with similar themes as collections, rather than only individual chapbooks (Potter 56).

There are currently four known 1812 editions of the Ethelinda: or, the Fair Maid of the Inn chapbook, one residing at the University of Virginia, one at the University of California, one at the University of Missouri, and one at Princeton University. There was an earlier edition, published in 1804 also by J. Roe and Ann Lemoine, and this edition is owned by Harvard University. In this edition, the date of 1804 is printed under the frontispiece, and the price—which is fourpence instead of sixpence—is listed on the title page. Oxford University also holds a copy of the chapbook that their library catalog dates between 1809 and 1812. Like the 1804 edition, the copy held by Oxford is listed at a price of fourpence instead of sixpence; the size of the chapbook is also smaller than the 1812 edition, measuring at 14cm instead of 17cm.

Ethelinda’s subtitle, “The Fair Maid of the Inn,” is fairly common and generates some confusion around the precise publication history of this text. The chapbook Ethelinda: or, the Fair Maid of the Innis based on the 1647 play The Faire Maide of the Inne by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. In 1769, Matthew West wrote a play titled Ethelinda: Or, Love and Duty which appears unrelated to the chapbook Ethelinda. The Fair Maid of the Inn is also listed in Robert Campell and Co’s Catalogue for 1796 and 1797 as part of the second volume of an unnamed collection but it is unclear if this is referencing the Ethelinda chapbook or an unrelated work with the same subtitle, though the fact that it appears several years before Lemoine and Roe’s edition likely suggests it is a separate title.

Narrative Point of View

This chapbook is narrated in the past tense by an unnamed third-person narrator with no connection to the characters in the book. The narration describes the characters’ mannerisms, feelings, and thought processes in detail but does not describe their appearance except for the fair maid. The narration often focuses on two characters conversing with one another and presents these moments as dramatic dialogue.

Sample Passage:

“Yes, Sir,” answered Ethelinda, for that was the maid’s name; and making her master a curtsy, went away, leaving Avendano as disconsolate as the weary traveller is when dark night surprises him. However, he stepped out to acquaint Carriazo with what he had seen, and how he had sped. Carriazo plainly discovered his friend was in love, but would not take notice of it till he had seen the object, which he so extravagantly extolled, in magnifying the beauty of Ethelinda. They went into the inn, and Arguello, who was a woman about forty years of age, and had charge of the beds and chambers, conducted them to one that was neither good enough for gentlemen, nor mean enough for their servants, but was just fit to entertain the middling sort of people. (Ethelinda 11)

During moments of dialogue, like that which starts this passage, the narrator provides helpful context. Although the narrator describes the feelings of the characters, they do not describe the scenes and places, leaving those aspects up to the readers’ imagination. By only describing the fair maid’s appearance, the narrator emphasizes that her beauty is a key point of the story, which focuses on the attention the fair maid receives from many men, such as Avendano. Additionally, the narrator focuses a lot on Avendano’s companion, Carrazio, and how he fairs in Toledo—so much so that Carrazio seems just as important, if not more so, than the fair maid herself. Throughout the novel, the narrator maintains a light and optimistic tone even as more serious events occur, such as Carrazio injuring a man and being sent to jail and Carrazzio’s father raping Ethelinda’s mother. There is almost a comical undertone to the narration.


A young nobleman by the name of Carriazo runs away from home and embarks on a three-year adventure across Spain. During this time, he develops a love for gambling at a fishery in Almadravas. After deciding to return home and relieve his parents from their heartache, he vows to return to his vagabonding ways and beloved Almadravas. Upon his return home, he confides in his childhood friend, Avendano, about his adventures. Doing so ignites the traveling spirit in Avendano and together they devise a plan to gather enough money to support their travels. They raise the funds by convincing their fathers that they are passionate about receiving an education at a respected institute far away and will need money for lodging and other expenses. Their plan is successful and they set off, seemingly to university, with a tutor and two servants in tow.

Carriazo and Avendano once again devise a plan to escape the watchful eyes of their companions and depart with the money. As the friends run off, they leave a letter with the tutor, confessing a sudden call to serve in the military and declaring that their return should not be expected until they see their duty fulfilled. Having finally escaped from their families with ample funds and free to do as they please, they start their journey to Carriazo’s most cherished fishery in Almadravas.

On their journey, they encounter two muletiers who tell the story of the beautiful cook-maid residing at the Sevillian inn nearby who captures the hearts of many men, including the governor’s son. While Carriazo may be curious about the breathtaking maid, he is determined to return to his beloved fishery and Almadravas. Avendano, enamored by their tales, insists that he and his companion visit the inn at once.

After many hours, Avendano finally lays eyes on the fair maid. He is sure that he must stay in the city of Toledo and continue to be around her. He tells a false tale to the landlord, lying about his and Carriazo’s names and stations, and convinces him to let himself and his companion remain at the inn for a few nights. They offer to take on tasks around the inn to incentivize the landlord to allow them to stay, and as Carriazo goes about completing his task, he finds himself in an altercation that results in him injuring a man and being sent to prison. In order to free his friend from prison, Avendano pays the landlord to use his connections to pardon Carriazo.

After his release, the pair remain in Toledo for 24 days. As time goes on, Avendano finds an opportunity to reveal to Ethelinda his true identity and confess his love for her through a letter she believes to be a prayer. Ethelinda does not receive the letter well and rips it to shreds, turning down his offer of marriage.

At the same time, Carriazo returns to his gambling ways when he intends to buy a donkey and is tempted to join a game of cards with the man who sold him the donkey. Carriazo bets on four quarters of his donkey and loses each quarter. He argues that he still owns the tail of the donkey and becomes known as the man with the tail and the laughing stock of the town.

Back at the inn, the governor comes to visit after hearing stories of the fair maid from his son. Upon seeing Ethelinda and conversing with the landlord, he discovers that Ethelinda was dropped off at the inn as a baby by a wealthy woman and was placed in the custody of the landlord and his wife with a chain enclosing a secret message and a parchment describing the deal made between the landlord and the wealthy woman. The landlord was to raise Ethelinda as a country girl until a stranger came to collect her with a matching chain enclosing the other part of the message and a parchment indicating custody of Ethelinda. The landlord talks about how he had waited over fifteen years for the stranger, but to no avail.

With this information, the governor leaves for his home but returns after receiving word that two Dons (Avendano and Carriazo’s fathers) have arrived at the inn. Carriazo’s father declares that he is also the father of Ethelinda and presents the matching chain and parchment. He tells the story of how Ethelinda came to be. While hunting in the neighborhood where Ethelinda’s mother’s palace sat, he creeped into her chambers during her afternoon nap and raped her. After the incident, Ethelinda’s mother left her village and he never saw her again. Following the death of Ethelinda’s mother, the Don received money to be given to the landlord as payment for raising Ethelinda and the chain to match with the chain in the landlord’s possession.

Upon hearing this story, Ethelinda falls to her feet and cries at the realization that she has found her father. At the same time, news of Carriazo’s arrest reaches the govenor and Carriazo is brought to him. It is then revealed that Carriazo and Avendano were residing at the inn in disguise this entire time, and the fathers and sons return to the governor’s home with Ethelinda to reside there for a month before returning to their city, Burgos.

Avendano confesses his love for Ethelinda again and the two are betrothed. Carriazo abandons his dream of returning to Almadravas and is betrothed to the governor’s daughter. The governor’s son relinquishes all hope of marrying Ethelinda and agrees to a betrothal to Avendano’s sister. In the end, the Dons, Ethelinda and her husband Avendano, Carriazo and his wife, and the governor’s son, return to Burgos.


Beaumont, Francis, and John Fletcher. “The Faire Maide of the Inne.” Comedies and Tragedies. London, Humphrey Robinson and Humphrey Moseley, 1647, pp. 29–51.

Ethelinda: or, the fair maid of the inn. An interesting tale. London, J. Roe and A. Lemoine, 1812.

Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks, and Shilling Shockers. Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 2021.

Researcher: Imahküs Manns

How to cite this page:

MLA: “Ethelinda.” Project Gothic, University of Virginia, 2024,