Edward and Eleonora; or, The Adventures of A Stroller
Author: Frederic Chamberlain
Publisher: J. Lee
Publication Year: Unknown, likely between 1804 and 1824
Book Dimensions: 11.2cm x 18.6cm
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C43 E n.d.
This circa early nineteenth-century chapbook by Frederic Chamberlain demonstrates how a farmer’s generosity leads to the reunion of two long lost family members, as well as the spark of a fated romance.
The cover of Edward and Eleonora has no title and is just a blank paper binding that features only the mark of the Sadleir-Black Collection presented by Robert K. Black. When the book is opened, the backside of the cover features an illustration of two men and a woman, standing by a tree with what appears to be a small castle or church protruding not far behind them in the background. One man is holding a shovel in his left hand and the other stands behind the woman holding her. They all appear to be looking downwards at a grave that rests at the foot of the tree and gesturing to it with their hands. Beneath the illustration on the same page, in formal cursive text, is the caption, “With downeast Looks she surveyed the Grave of the dear departed.”
The title of the chapbook first appears at the top of the following page in bold capital letters. It states “EDWARD AND ELEONORA;” and then beneath it in a different font, “or, THE ADVENTURES of A STROLLER.” Beneath this title there is a bolded horizontal line that separates the title from “A ROMANCE” followed by another horizontal line beneath that separating the authors name, “BY FREDERICK CHAMBERLAIN,” with another line beneath his name. Underneath the author’s name reads “London: printed and published by J. LEE, No.24, Half Moon Street, Bishopsgate: and sold by all the booksellers.” At the bottom of the title page are the words: “Price Sixpence.” This title page is the only one in the book that features the title or the author’s name.
The dimensions of the book in centimeters are 18.6 by 11.2. The title page is on page 3, and the book starts on page 4 and finishes on page 38. One’s first impressions of the book are that it is small, both in dimensions and length. Furthermore, it appears quite old, worn, and cheap, especially around the edges of the pages where they are slightly frayed and torn in places. Despite this, the paper is in relatively good shape as there are no significant tears and the paper is fairly sturdy. The paper has a yellowed color to it and is flexible. The binding is paper and the book is disbound, with no decorations featured on the binding. There are no other decorations found anywhere on the cover or within the pages of the book. Additionally, the frontispiece illustration is the only one throughout the book. The pages within the book have fairly large top and bottom margins, with smaller side margins. The text on the page is small, close together, and there is little space between each line. It is dark and easy to read and only slightly faded on a few pages. On the last page of the book at the end of the text the word “FINIS” appears at the bottom. Apart from the pages appearing worn, there are no post-production markings anywhere on the pages from previous readers.
The author of Edward and Eleonora; or the adventures of a stroller is known only from his chapbooks as Frederic Chamberlain. He is described as a “novelist, of whom hardly anything is known” (“Mulvey-Roberts”). It is unknown where he is from but Edward and Eleonora was a fictional chapbook, printed and published in London by a man known only as J. Lee. The chapbook was originally written in English and is thought to have been printed and published sometime between 1804 and 1824 (WorldCat). Frederic Chamberlain wrote another chapbook called Lucretia; or, The Robbers of the Hyrcanean Forest. Both Lucretia and Edward and Eleonora were short gothic romances, showing a general trend in the type of genre towards which Frederic Chamberlain tended to gravitate.
There exists another story, titled Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy, by British writer James Thomson. This play was published shortly before Frederic Chamberlain’s, in 1751. Furthermore, it was adapted to the stage in 1795 by Thomas Hull. The plots of Thomson’s Edward and Eleonora and Chamberlain’s Edward and Eleonora appear to be unrelated and generically distinct, since one is a tragedy and the other a romance. However, there are a few uncanny similarities between the actual history of James Thomson’s play and the fictional plot of Frederic Chamberlain’s chapbook. It is very likely that Frederic Chamberlain derived the title for his chapbook from the popularity of James Thomson’s tragedy. In both stories, the characters Edward and Eleonora are husband and wife. Furthermore, much of Frederic Chamberlain’s plot in his story revolves around Edward trying to obtain a license from Frederick, Eleonora’s brother, that would permit him to perform a play for Frederick and Eleonora. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century, James Thomson’s play was originally banned from performance at Covent Garden by the Lord Chamberlain, due to the licensing act of 1737, which restrained what was allowed to be said about the British Government in theatrical performances (“Wilson” 175). The play was banned because the portrayal of James Thomson’s characters, Edward, Prince of Wales, and his relationship with his father, Henry III, was viewed as a political attack that reflected the real life relationship of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his father, George II, at the time (“Wilson” 177). Frederic Chamberlain’s plot in Edward and Eleonora, involves Edward attempting to obtain a license from Frederick so he can perform a play. Similarly, James Thomson could not perform his play Edward and Eleonora because he could not obtain the license from Lord Chamberlain, since his characters were representations of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his father. It appears clear that Frederic Chamberlain’s plot and characters in Edward and Eleonora loosely model much of the actual conflict James Thomson experienced with his play Edward and Eleonora. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that Frederick Chamberlain was also a member of the Inns of Court, and thus a barrister himself (see the history for Chamberlain’s other chapbook, Lucretia).
There is no evidence of any prequels or sequels to Edward and Eleonora and no introduction or preface. Additionally, there is no information regarding the popularity of the chapbook when it was published and nothing to suggest it was ever advertised in any way, neither at the time of publication nor at a later date. It appears there are no later publications of the book, as well as no alternate versions or existing digitized copies. The book is held in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library among the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction. The only other known locations of the book are in the University of California, Los Angeles Special Collections, and New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. There is no scholarly study to be found on this book, however, the title and author are briefly cited in A Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers (304).
Narrative Point of View
The narration of Edward and Eleonora is in the third person by a narrator whose identity is never revealed to the reader. The narrator goes into detail about the characters’ thought processes and emotions. The narration describes each individual situation with long sentences containing mini tangents that describe a character’s action. The style feels old-fashioned, with a lot of antiquated syntax and diction. The narrator is most frequently used as a means to transition between character dialogue.
Justice Manly was petrified — every nerve trembled — he had scarce power to call his domestics, — for his tongue denied the power of utterance ; however, he hobbled to the apartment wherein Eleonora and her brother were, by which time he was enabled to make known the situation of our hero. They precipitately entered the room, and found him stretched on the floor, with eyes strongly fixed on the portraits of his departed parents. — A flood of tears relieved him — he looked wildly at the objects around him, and enquired by what means those portraits came in the possession of Justice Manly, who replied, they were the portraits of his beloved sister and brother. — Our hero looked him steadfastly in the face, and exclaimed aloud; ‘Behold then, your unworthy nephew ; whose irregularities were the cause of a loss, which is now irreparable — your affectionate sister. — Ah what a sting has death left behind — an arrow has pierced this heart which can never be withdrawn. (35)
The narrator incorporates descriptive phrases like “every nerve trembled,” and a “flood of tears relieved him” to display the detailed imagery of the way each character experiences the scene. While the narrator describes the present situation in the book, they also employ the use of many brief tangents within the sentences to extrapolate on the emotions of the characters within the situation. This passage demonstrates the use of antiquated syntax which emulates the old-fashioned style the narrator uses to depict each scene with grace and fluidity. At the end of the passage, the narrator transitions to the next dialogue, reflecting the way the narration is used to explain the feelings of the characters in the text and then proceed into the next conversation between the characters that further continues the story.
Frederick and Eleonora are brother and sister who come into possession of their well-respected father’s farm, Friendly Hall, when he leaves it and all its livestock for them and retires elsewhere. In the following year, during a period of great harvest, a group of poor “strollers” (or vagabonds) come to town seeking hospitality (4). Their presence is met with hostility from the townspeople out of fear that their food supply will not be enough to support these newcomers.
Everyone rejects their request for asylum except for Edward and Eleonora who empathize for these people who possess so much less than they do. The head of the strollers arrives at Friendly hall requesting to speak with Frederick. When Frederick arrives and speaks with the stroller he feels bad for him, hands the man a generous amount of money, and tells him to return in an hour while he considers his request. Eleonora recognizes something familiar about the stroller but cannot figure out why.
Frederick runs into the Squire Saveall who warns Frederick that it is risky to take this group of strollers in. Frederick welcomes the Squire into his home where they discuss with Eleonora. The stroller heads back to his anxiously awaiting group where he shows them the cash Frederick gave him and explains his conversation. The group of strollers use their newfound money to buy food and ale from Redcap (their current host) to celebrate. After their feast, the head of the strollers leaves for Friendly Hall to inquire about his request with Frederick.
Despite the Squire’s recommendation to Frederick, Frederick meets with the stroller. They discuss terms of the stay and Frederick decides to allow the group to stay for free. The Stroller is immensely grateful and assures Frederick that he will make sure his group will strictly adhere to any rules. The two go on to discuss ways in which the group could attain a license that would allow them to open a theater for the town’s amusement. Frederick concludes that he will speak with Justice Manly about getting them a license.
When Justice Manly arrives at Friendly Hall, Frederick asks where he has been for so long. The justice goes on to tell them a story about his quest to find his sister and nephew who had gone missing. On his quest he learns that his sister died out of grief for loss for her son (his nephew). The justice tells Frederick and Eleonora how he was left with nothing but portraits of his family members following the funeral and returned to the town. The justice says he will get the license for the strollers and leaves Friendly Hall. Back at the Crooked Billet, the group of Strollers celebrate at the news embracing in laughter and conversation. They all get drunk and proceed to sing as the night comes to a close. Meanwhile, the squire tells a story to Eleonora about a man he knew named Hawthorne who possessed admirable qualities. He was wrongly sentenced to serve in the war due to the false accusations of a woman, and there he met his fate. When the story ends the squire leaves Friendly Hall but Frederick convinces the justice to stay.
The next morning the stroller visits Frederick, who tells him his group can stay in the barn and set up their theater there. Meanwhile the justice has breakfast with Frederick and Eleonora where he officially writes them the license. Frederick gives the license to the Stroller who tells them they can visit the set. When Frederick and Eleonora visit the set, they are met with disappointment of only two sets of scenes. The performance goes on that night and despite their initial apprehensions, the conclusion is met with approval and applause from the entire audience. That night, both the justice and Eleonora feel confusion and uneasiness about the familiarity of the leader and go to bed with great sadness.
The next morning, the stroller wakes up to look for Frederick but finds out he already left to visit the justice. The stroller then decides to go to the justice’s home where he sees the portraits of the justice’s sister and brother-in-law. He then falls to the floor in agony at the sight of his lost parents. Justice Manly realizes it is his nephew who was the leader of the group of strollers and confirms it by asking him questions about his parents. The justice tells Frederick and Eleonora the truth and she is delighted in the discovery of his nephew she once admired. The justice convinces his nephew to leave the group and stay with him where his possessions will be his. The nephew goes to Eleonora and introduces himself to her as Edward. Eleonora and Edward later marry each other with an unforgettable ceremony that fills the village with joy.
Chamberlain, Frederic. Edward and Eleonora: Or, the Adventures of a Stroller. A Romance. J. Lee. n.d.
Hull, Thomas. Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy. London, Printed for George Cawthorn, 1795.
Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. “Biographies of Gothic Novelists.” Gothic Fiction – Biographies, www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/gothic_fiction/Biographies.aspx.
Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. London, Fortune Press, 1941.
Thomson, James. Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy. Dublin, Printed for G. Risk, G. and A. Ewing, and W. Smith (booksellers), 1751.
Wilson, Brett D. A Race of Female Patriots: Women and Public Spirit on the British Stage, 1688–1745. Lexington Books, 2012.
Researcher: Magnus Gould