Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Thomas Tegg
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Dimensions: 18.4cm x 11.3cm. 
Pages: 16
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F368 1810

In this circa 1810 chapbook, backdropped against the outskirts of Italy, a complicated web of family, loyalty, and betrayal spirals a noble family into conspiracy and murder. 

Material History

Fatal Vows is presented in a disbound pamphlet. The pamphlet was once bound, but there is no longer a hardcover. Paste on the spine of the pamphlet and gilding on the top edge of the pages reflect its previous state. Presumably, Fatal Vows was at some point bound with other pamphlets for ease of storage and style—a common practice at the time. The pages themselves are a linen blend (with perhaps a bit of cotton) in fairly decent shape. The paper is browned by age, but not brittle. There are no significant stains and few splotches—none that obscure the text or decrease legibility. 

The title page for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, along with the printer’s information

Fatal Vows is 18.4 x 11.3 cm in dimension, and sixteen pages long. Along the top of the pamphlet the pages are uniformly trimmed, but all other edges are slightly irregular. This variation is presumably due to the nature in which the collection of pamphlets was bound. Commonly, pamphlets of varying sizes were trimmed to the dimensions of the largest pamphlet. Works smaller than the largest pamphlet were often missed by the blade on a few sides, leading to irregularities in page edges like Fatal Vows’.

The front page of the pamphlet, once the University of Virginia note is moved aside, reads “William Coventry // Piccadilly.” This inscription indicates that the text was likely part of a personal collection. The next two pages feature the only two illustrations in the pamphlet, one in the frontispiece and one on the title page. The frontispiece illustration is brightly colored and depicts two men standing outside of a building. The man on the right, with a red cape and green suit, is holding out a sword. The man on the left, with yellow trousers and a blue tunic, appears to be making a vow on the sword. This illustration is helpfully captioned “Rinaldo binding Montavoli by an Oath.” Below the caption is the mark of the publisher, “Pub. By T. Tegg June 1810.” 

The second illustration follows immediately after the title. At the top quarter of the page is the title, which varies between flowing cursive and block lettering (indicated by italicized and non-italicized text, respectively) reading: “Fatal Vows, // or // The False Monk, // a // Romance.” Below the title is the second illustration, depicting a man in purple leading a man in green down a staircase and into a stone room. The caption curves around the bottom of the illustration and reads “The Spirit of Montavoli’s Brother ledding him to a place of Safety.” Below the caption, once again, are three lines of the publisher’s information. The first line, “London”, indicates the city Fatal Vows was printed in. The next line repeats “Printed for Thomas Tegg, III, Cheapside June 1-1810” and the final line indicates the price: “Price Sixpence.”

Once the story itself begins, the page layout is relatively consistent. Aside from the first page, which repeats the title (interestingly adding a “the” before the title, the only point in the chapbook where this occurs) before beginning the story about halfway down the page, the margins on the page vary slightly from page to page but average out to a 2 cm outer margin, 1 cm inner margin, 2.5 cm bottom margin, and 0.5 to 0.75 cm top margin. At the top of each page, centered just above the text, is the title in all caps: FATAL VOWS. The page numbers are on the same line as the title, to the far left (for even number pages) or right (for odd number pages) edge of the text. The text itself is single-spaced. The only notable features in the story pages are the occasional letters at the bottom center of the page. Page six has a B, page nine has B3, page seventeen has a C, page nineteen has a C2, and page twenty-one has a C3. These letters serve to assist the printer in ordering the pages—pamphlets like these were generally printed on one large sheet, folded together, and then trimmed to allow for page-turning.

Textual History

Unfortunately, there is very little either known or recorded on Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance. Both the author and illustrator are unknown. Francis Lathom has been named as the author, notably by Google Books, due to the similarities in titles between Fatal Vows and his work The Fatal Vow; Or, St. Michael’s Monastery, but this is a misattribution. Only two copies of Fatal Vows are available online: one on Google Books courtesy of the British Library (although the author is misattributed, as Francis Lathom), and one through the University of Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection. Fatal Vows is mentioned in a handful of catalogs listing known gothic novels, but with no opinion or further insight attached to it, with one exception.

The frontispiece for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk

Fatal Vows has not been featured in much academic work. However, that does not mean Fatal Vows was entirely unnoted beyond the commercial sphere. Its one notable reference is an allegation that Fatal Vows is a plagiarism of, or at least very heavily influenced by, Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk. In Peter Otto’s introduction to the Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia, he notes: “Like Radcliffe’s works, Lewis’s novel inspired a host of plagiarizers, imitators and competitors. The mystery of the black convent (London: A. Neil, [n.d.]) and Fatal vows, or The false monk, a romance (London: Thomas Tegg, 1810) are two of the many chapbooks that draw heavily on The Monk.” This is the only academic work to articulate opinions on Fatal Vows, although it is cited in other works and catalogs.

There appear to be no prequels, sequels, reprints, translations, or adaptations connected to Fatal Vows. Even when published, there is no surviving (if any) mention of Fatal Vows in the ads or articles of the time. There was no announcement in the newspapers of the time and no evidence that Fatal Vows stirred any public notice or controversy.

The only name that can be reliably connected to Fatal Vows is the publisher of the novel. T. Tegg (or Thomas Tegg III) is listed on both available scans as the publisher and bookseller and is comparatively much more well documented. Tegg set himself apart from his contemporaries by both the low prices and the lower quality of the books he produced. His self-description as “the broom that swept the booksellers’ warehouses” fairly articulates his practice of reprinting successful novels, works past copyright protections, and remainders (Curwen 391). Considering the nature of the works published by Tegg, it is perhaps not unsurprising that Fatal Vows was published with little fanfare.

Narrative Point of View

Fatal Vows combines the main story told in the third person by an omniscient, detached narrator, and interpolated stories told by characters explaining things that either occurred off-page or before the story began. There is no meta-narrative of the story’s origin or any relation to the narrator, but characters often narrate their own backstories through letters and oral stories, which are narrated in the first-person voice of the relevant character. The style is fairly formal, with no contractions and winding prose. The epistolary narratives vary slightly depending on the character narrating them, ranging from powerful emoting to detached cynicism, but the overall tone is still formal and vaguely antiquated.

Example of Third-Person Narration:

Rinaldo now informed Count Montavole that Miranda was his own daughter by Serina. The Count grew very faint; to encrease his misery Rinaldo added: “Know likewise that it is a BROTHER who is the death of thee.” He had no sooner finished this speech than he was seized for the murder of the Count, and as he quitted the dungeon he put a paper into Alberto’s hands. Montavole only lived to ejaculate, “a brother ! Miranda too my daughter ! oh—” (25)

Example of Interpolated Oral Tale of Susanna’s Confession:

Unconscious of what I did, I took the dreadful oath, and went gently into Lady Leonora’s room, and changed children with her, by which means Montavole has reared up his brother’s son instead of his own. (20)

Example of Interpolated Tale of Rinaldo’s Letter:

Hereupon I was seized by two footmen in livery, who dragged me to a noble palace: I was conducted to an elegant saloon, when a nobleman, for so I learnt he was, desired me to relate the whole adventure; accordingly, I did. He then observed that I had been used ill, and in return desired his nephew to give me a diamond ring. (26)

Overall, this chapbook’s narration focuses much more internally than externally—there is little imagery or scene building, but a heavy emphasis on the actions of the characters, which drive the majority of the plot. This contrasts with the low-key delivery the narrator uses to convey plot twists or surprises, as exemplified in the first passage. Miranda being the daughter of Count Montavole is a devastating plot twist even by itself, but Rinaldo being the brother of Count Montavole is even more so. However, the verbs used to describe Rinaldo’s proclamation are low-energy (“informed” and “added” are not exactly declarations) and Montavole’s death (who, in fairness, was already on the way out) is received without much fanfare. Within the scene, the room is full of characters that would be rattled by these announcements, but their perspectives are not noted. Even the announcement of Miranda’s parentage reads like an afterthought. 

When characters themselves are narrating, more of their personality is able to shine through and influence the story. Susanna’s passage, when she explains the kidnapping she committed almost two decades ago, is full of qualitative adjectives and descriptors; Susanna is one of the kinder, moral characters in the story. This is juxtaposed against Rinaldo describing an altercation in his boyhood, where he describes his own actions with more understated neutrality.


Fatal Vows takes place on the outskirts of Italy, in a castle owned by a Count named Savini. Count Savini has two sons: Montavole and Alberto. Alberto is the youngest and is a charming and obedient son, while Montavole is morose and selfish. Montavole leaves home at an early age to pursue his own interests, breaking Count Savini’s heart. While on his travels, Montavole is attacked by bandits. His life is saved by a stranger, who identifies himself as Rinaldo and commands Montavole to repay his debt by swearing a vow of friendship and loyalty. Montavole is troubled but agrees, and Rinaldo vanishes into the night with an ominous “be careful of Saint Peter’s day” (7).

This page shows the first page of the actual story, along with one of the folding guide markings

Eventually, Montavole hears word that his father is critically ill and returns home to see him before he passes. Unfortunately, he is too late, but in their grief Montavole and Alberto reconcile and Montavole decides to settle down. Montavole marries a rich woman named Leonora, and Alberto marries his fianceé, Matilda. Montavole and Leonora are miserable, as their marriage was one for money rather than love and Leonora is afraid of Rinaldo, who Montavole now keeps company with, but Alberto and Marilda are happy and in love. However, tragedy strikes one night when Alberto is murdered. The murderer escapes into the night, and the heavily-pregnant Matilda dies of grief in labor shortly after. 

Over the next twenty years, two things of note occur. Firstly, Rinaldo is arrested after killing a man in a dispute, but escapes from jail just before his execution. Secondly, a baby girl is left on Montavole and Leonora’s doorstep with a letter in her crib. Leonora reads the letter, swoons, and decides to raise the child (now named Miranda) as her own, locking the letter away without explanation. 

At the end of these twenty years, Leonora is now on her deathbed. Montavole and their son, Alphonso, (who is in love with Miranda despite the two being kept apart by his father) have been out of the kingdom for weeks, leaving only Miranda around to tend to Leonora. Knowing her time is coming to an end, Leonora decides it is time for Miranda to know the truth about her birth. She gives Miranda a key to a cabinet that holds the mysterious letter from her crib. Leonora directs her to read the letter, burn it, and then leave the castle to join the nearby convent. Her only warning is to avoid the castle’s resident monk, Roderigo, who she finds suspicious. After Leonora dies, Miranda goes to the cabinet, but the letter is not there. She despairs, but is interrupted by a mysterious voice that tells her “You have a father living… your father is a murderer!” (13—14). Overcome with shock, Miranda faints. 

 Alphonso and Montavole return, too late to say goodbye to Leonora. Alphonso rushes to Miranda but Montavole stops him. He has betrothed Alphonso to the daughter of a man to whom he owes a significant amount of money. In exchange for Alphonso’s hand (and prestigious family name) the man will not only forgive Montavole’s debts but offer a substantial dowry. Alphonso is heartbroken but consents. 

Miranda, in the meantime, goes for a walk in the surrounding countryside to bolster her spirits. She comes across a cottage with an old woman named Susanna and her nephew, Alonzo, who is insane. Susanna tells Miranda that eighteen years ago, a woman who looked very much like her came to the cottage and died, leaving behind a baby who was taken away by a “mean-looking man” (15). Miranda concludes that she must have been the baby, but returns homes before uncovering anything else. However, as soon as she returns home Roderigo (the suspicious monk Leonora was so afraid of) seizes her and locks her in an abandoned tower. Montavole ordered her to be locked away so she could not get in the way of Alphonso’s wedding, and Roderigo tells her she will stay there for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, with Miranda effectively out of the picture, Alphonso and Cassandra’s wedding goes off without a hitch. In the ceremony, however, Cassandra drinks a goblet of wine (provided to her by Roderigo) and dies of poisoning. There was another goblet of wine meant for Alphonso, but he disappears shortly after the ceremony and is spared from the chaos. The castle descends into an uproar. 

After a few days in the tower, Miranda discovers a key to the door and flees to Susanna’s cottage. She begs Susanna to let her stay the night before she leaves the kingdom, and Susanna readily agrees. That night, however, Montavole and Roderigo break into the cottage. Miranda tries to intervene but she is powerless to stop Montavole and Roderigo, and they murder Alonzo. Susanna comes down just in time to see his death and exclaims “Count Montavole you have killed your son, the real offspring of Leonora… you cruel man!” (19—20). Shocked, Montavole flees. Roderigo takes away the body, and Susanna confesses Alonzo’s backstory to Miranda.

Susanna used to be a servant at the castle. When Matilda died, her child had actually survived, but lord Montavole commanded her to take the child away to the cottage and raise it as her nephew. However, Susanna switched Alberto’s child (Alphonso) with Montavole’s (for no discernable motive) and took him instead. Shortly after confessing, Susanna dies of grief. Miranda returns to the castle, hoping to beg Alphonso for protection, but comes across Roderigo instead. He gives her the letter Leonora had meant to leave her and leaves the room. Miranda finally learns her origins.

Montavole was Miranda’s real father all along. Her mother, Serina, was a noblewoman with a sickly father and little money. Montavole secretly murdered her father, who had attempted to keep him away from Serina, took Serina in, and got her pregnant. He strung her along for a while, promising that once his father died they would get married, but one day Rinaldo revealed to Serina that Montavole’s father had died long ago. Moreover, he had been married to a rich woman for the past twelve months. Serina fled, selling her clothes and jewelry, but was robbed by a coachman. She made her way to Susanna’s cottage and died of grief, and baby Miranda was taken away to the castle. 

Meanwhile, Count Montavole is hiding out in one of his dungeons, having been led there by his brother’s ghost—but it is not his ghost. Alberto has been alive the entire time. Roderigo (who is revealed as Rinaldo) bursts in, in the middle of an unspecified fight with Alphonso, but switches tactics to kill Montavole. In Montavole’s final breath he realizes Miranda is also his daughter.

Miranda and Alphonso marry, and Rinaldo is put to death. A letter he wrote before his arrest reveals his own motivation. Rinaldo was actually Alberto and Montavole’s half-brother. His mother, Angelina, was seduced by Alberto and Montavole’s father (Count Savini), but he grew tired of her and abandoned her. Angelina gave birth to Rinaldo and managed to get by for a few years, but caught small-pox and lost her beauty. All her admirers abandoned her, and they were forced to sell all their furniture and move into a small apartment. They eventually ran out of money, and when Rinaldo was nineteen they were evicted. Angelina died in the streets, penniless and heartbroken, but before she passed she told Rinaldo about his father and begged him to avenge her death. 

Now it is Alberto’s turn to reveal how he survived. Count Montavole had hired an assassin to kill him, but the wound was not fatal. One of Rinaldo’s servants saved him but locked him in a dungeon in the castle, where he lived until the servant slipped up and left behind a key. The servant himself had conveniently died a few days ago. With all the mysteries explained, everyone lives happily ever after.


Curwen, Henry. “Thomas Tegg: Book-Auctioneering and the “Remainder Trade.” A History of Booksellers, the Old and the New 1st ed., Chatto and Windus, 1873. 

Fatal Vows: or the False Monk, a Romance. Thomas Tegg, 1810.

Fatal Vows: or the False Monk, a Romance. Thomas Tegg, 1810, Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=mDfNxphLieoC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Otto, Peter. “Introduction.” Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia. http://www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/gothic_fiction/Introduction7.aspx. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Researcher: Brynn Jefferson

The Unfortunate Daughter

The Unfortunate Daughter

The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education

Author: John Corry
Publisher: J. Corry
Publication Year: 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 17.8cm
Pages: 72
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .C674 Ed 1803 no.2

In this novella written by John Corry and published in 1803, a nobleman uses an all-female boarding school in England to seduce and subsequently elope a young woman, only to abandon her in France.

Material History

The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education was written by John Corry and published on March 1, 1803. This particular printing of the story is found as the second tale in a book labeled Corry’s Tales, sandwiched between two of Corry’s other stories also published by J. Corry in September 1802 and May 1803: Edwy and Bertha; Or, the Force of the Connubial Love and Memoirs of Edward Thornton; Or, a Sketch of the Modern Dissipation in London. In this time, it was common to bind multiple books by the same author to save shelf space in libraries. This single book measures 10.5 cm wide by 17.8 cm tall and totals 192 pages, using 55 pages for Edwy and Bertha, and 72 pages each for The Unfortunate Daughter and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, respectively. The book is half-bound with a leather spine and corners framing a unique marble paper cover that features red ripples running through a black-speckled background. The spine features Corry’s Tales written horizontally in gold print on a red background with five sets of gold lines as embellishment above and below the writing. The front cover shows more signs of wear than the back cover, and the blunted corners suggest that this book was well-read in its shelf life. The inside pages are speckled, yellowed, and softened while some more intact pages retain the look of slight vertical lines like that of watercolor paper. The printing ink appears faded in some sections of the book, namely in the middle, yet it still remains readable. Also, there is one quite substantial rip on a page in The Unfortunate Daughter, although it is unclear when this rip was obtained. Overall, despite obvious signs of use, this version of Corry’s Tales is preserved in decent condition.

This page shows the graphite markings present on the inside front cover of this edition

On the inside, each story receives its own title page and detailed black and white illustration depicting a scene from within the story. In the case of Edwy and Bertha and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, the illustrations are accompanied by a quote written in cursive directing readers to a specific passage in the respective book with a page number, while the illustration before The Unfortunate Daughter lists “page 70” at the top but lacks a caption. Each story’s title page is structured in a similar way; first, it states the title and sub-title of the story, then the author’s name, followed by a quote from a famous person, and the printing information. All stories except Edwy and Bertha advertise a price of one shilling at the time they were published, equating to around $5 each in modern times. The title pages are followed by a page labeled “Advertisement.” in each story, except that of Edwy and Bertha, which feature a short summary of the story. 

Despite these three stories being originally published separately and at different times, the font, line spacing, margins, pagination, and presentation of the title pages remain consistent and unchanged in this printing of Corry’s Tales. The book features a serif font that is well-sized. The text is given plenty of space for readability in this edition of the book—the lines contain small gaps between them, there are large spaces after periods, and the margins are considerable on each side of the page. In terms of textual layout, all three stories feature clear paragraphs and the author uses double quotation marks to indicate dialogue instead of single quotation marks. All three stories include catch words, or the repetition of the last word on the preceding page at the beginning of the following page, and signature marks, or letters systematically arranged A, A1, A2, etc., on the bottom of paragraphs, so that publishers could be assured they were aligning the pages properly. The page numbers are printed inside closed parentheses at the top of each page, and the pagination starts anew at the beginning of each book after the title page or advertisement, respectively.

The newspaper clipping pressed in this edition of Corry’s Tales

This book has a fair number of markings in the front likely unique to this printing. On the back of the front cover, there are two separate annotations in graphite pencil. On the page opposite to the front cover, “Thomas Chiviley to his Sister Sarah 21 July 1808” is written in ink suggesting that this book was once owned by Thomas and given as a gift. Immediately below this, there is a graphite smudge showing the remnants of a cursive annotation currently illegible below it. Below this are more pencil markings that resemble a handmade table of contents listing the titles of the stories in the book as well as “Crosby 1803” indicating who the stories were printed for. On the right hand side of the following page, there is one more handwritten memo about Edwy and Bertha. Additionally, there is a small newspaper clipping pressed after the page with the note about Edwy and Bertha advertising the sale of another “fine copy” of one of Corry’s works titled The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester: or, the Miseries of Seduction. A Moral Tale.

Textual History

John Corry (fl. 1792–1836), the author of The Unfortunate Daughter, was an Irish-born writer. Corry was a journalist in Dublin and later moved to London (Goodwin). In London, Corry was the editor of a periodical, a member of the Philological Society in Manchester, and a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square. In his lifetime, Corry produced a broad literary canon including histories, biographies, socio-political satires, and children books. In his early career, Corry mainly focused on poetry shown through his publication of Poems (1780)and later shifted his attention towards histories, biographies, and satirical stories. Corry wrote around eight biographies of famous men including The Life of George Washington (1800) which went on to be reprinted in multiple countries. Corry’s most notable historical work is The History of Liverpool (1810), and he later went on to write at least three other histories of cities in England. As for his fiction writing, Corry wrote a variety of short tales that were typically published in series. The first-published series was Corry’s Original Tales (1798–1800) which included seven short stories. Following that, Corry produced a multitude of other series including: Friend of Youth (1797–1798), Domestic Distresses, exemplified in five pathetic original tales (1806), An Illustration of Passions; or, Man in Miniature (1798), and Tales for the Amusement of Young Persons (1802). Outside of these series, Corry wrote two stand-alone novels—A Satirical View of London (1801) and The Mysterious Gentleman Farmer (1808) (Pitcher 83–90).

The handwritten table of contents

The Unfortunate Daughter was published as a novella by Crosby and Co. in 1803, yet sources speculate that this story may have been reprinted from a previous series. It is noted in The Edinburgh Magazine, or Literary Miscellany that The Unfortunate Daughter was published in January 1803 as tale no. 5 in Corry’s Original Tales (“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803”). However, there appears to be evidence that the story later belonged to a series titled An Illustration of the Passions. This series is known to include Edwy and BerthaThe Miseries of Seduction, The Pleasures of Sympathy, and The Elopement. The second story in this series is also known as The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester which is the story found on the newspaper clip found in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, Pitcher speculates that this series also includes Memoirs of Edward Thornton, which appeared in a pamphlet with Edwy and Bertha published by Crosby and Co. in 1803 (Pitcher 88). Since An Illustration of the Passions is known to include the two stories that sandwich The Unfortunate Daughter in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of the novella and since it is speculated that other stories belonged to this series, it is possible that The Unfortunate Daughter also belonged to this series. 

The Sadleir-Black edition of The Unfortunate Daughter lists J. Corry as the publisher of the novella on March 1, 1803. On the title page, there is a long list of people and companies who the story was printed for: B. Crosby and Co., T. Hughes and M. Jones, Tegg and Castleman, R. Ogle, J. Stuart, and C. Chapple. Most notably, the publisher B. Crosby and Co. was the publisher to whom Jane Austen sent her original manuscript of “Susan,” which was later revised to become the well-known novel Northanger Abbey (Harman). Further, this edition of The Unfortunate Daughter was printed by W. S. Betham. The frontispiece lists the name M. Betham below it, suggesting that he or she was the illustrator. 

It is unclear how many different editions of The Unfortunate Daughter there are. WorldCat lists a second edition of the novella that was published in the Baptist pamphlets. This edition has a longer title, The Unfortunate Daughter, or, the danger of the modern system of female education: containing an account of the elopement of a young English lady, with a nobleman, and a shorter length totaling 59 pages, versus the 72 pages found in the Sadleir-Black edition. It is unclear whether the discrepancy in length is due to smaller font and margins or actual textual changes. Additionally, The Unfortunate Daughter can be located on Google Books. This version parallels the appearance of the edition found in the Sadleir-Black Collection.

This page contains a note about the first tale in this book, Edwy and Bertha

This edition of The Unfortunate Daughter contains a short advertisement before the story. This functions as an introduction describing the tale’s contents briefly. Furthermore, this edition includes two quotes before the story—one on the title page and one below the advertisement. The quote on the title page is from Alexander Pope’s Epistles to Several Persons and reads: “‘Tis Education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclin’d.” The quote under the advertisement is from Nicholas Rowe’s The Fair Penitent and reads: “Were you, ye Fair, but cautious whom ye trust; Did you but know how seldom Fools are just; So many of your sex would not, in vain, Of broken vows and faithless men complain.” Similarly to the advertisement, both of these quotes serve as summaries of the lessons that will be taught in The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, the presence of these quotes mirrors the structure found within the novella, as Corry quotes Pope again on page 2 of the story and later quotes a Robert Anderson poem on page 45.

There is no evidence of book reviews or criticisms surrounding The Unfortunate Daughter following its publication. However, some of Corry’s other works were the subject of book reviews in periodicals including Edwy and Bertha, Memoirs of Alfred Berkley, The Detector of Quackery, and The Life of Joseph Priestley. Further, despite its presence on Google Books, The Unfortunate Daughter is rarely cited by modern scholars. The novella is briefly used as an example of traditional female education believes in P. J. Miller’s journal article about women’s education in the eighteenth century (Miller 303–4). However, scholars have not entirely ignored Corry’s canon. For example, Memoirs of Edward Thornton, A Satirical View of London, and The Detector of Quackery have been analyzed as criticisms of urban London culture (Mulvihill).

Narrative Point of View

The Unfortunate Daughter is narrated in third-person by an unnamed narrator adhering to an omniscient point of view. The narration is unadorned and uses rudimentary language to convey major plot points efficiently without the need for additional linguistic flourishing. As such, the sentences are typically simple, making for a quick read. The narrator rarely dwells on characters’ feelings; rather, he focuses on moving the plot along through a series of quickly described events. Further, many sentences deftly employ modifiers to aid in presenting coherent images of different characters and settings. This passage below illustrates the unembellished language and readability of this novella:

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

Being a voluptuary who gloried in the seduction of young women, he offered Nannette five hundred a year, on condition that she should engage as governess in a boarding school for young ladies, and assist him in the seduction of the most beautiful girl entrusted to her care. The unprincipled Nannette agreed, and Mrs. V’s school was the place where the most diabolical scheme was to be carried into execution. (13)

The Unfortunate Daughter is set up as a story to illustrate the downfall of women brought about by improper education, as the narrator asserts in the first page of the novella: “Doubtless, many of the unfortunate females who are now ‘prostitute for bread’ in this metropolis, were educated with uncommon care” (5). To address this critique, the narrator briefly pauses to assert his opinion of the female education system at various points in the story. Additionally, the story intertwines various quotations from other prominent literary works. This passage provides an example of the narrator’s interjecting commentary:

Sample Passage of Narrator’s Interjections:

This is one, among many instances, of the pernicious effects of improper female education. Is there then a father or mother solicitous for the future honour and happiness of their daughter, who would entrust her into one of those modern temples of affectation, called Boarding-schools? No; rather let the loveliest part of our species be educated at home, beneath a mother’s guardian eye; or, if the mother be incompetent to the task, let a modest preceptress instruct the blooming girl, beneath that paternal roof, where seduction will not presume to appear, under the assumed name of refinement. This mode of education will preserve the morals of the virgin, and be particularly useful and practicable among those in the middle classes of society; as girls can not only make a regular process in useful and ornamental knowledge, which renders beauty even more amiable; but they may also be initiated in those early-acquired arts of domestic economy, peculiar to their sex. (34–35)

The editorial omniscient point of view gives the narrator substantial power to shape the story as he pleases. Since the novella begins as a warning about female education that will be displayed through a story, The Unfortunate Daughter reads as a cautionary tale with a concrete lesson to be learned, rather than a story picked up for the mere pleasure of reading. The quick, simple sentences also reflect this admonitory tone highlighting that the narrator’s primary goal is to relay his warning without any chance for errors in misinterpretation that could be caused by any ornate diction. Moreover, the supplementary quotations from outside literary works aid readers’ understanding of the narrator’s overarching message. Furthermore, the lack of insight about characters’ inner thoughts emphasizes the story’s focus of demonstrating the dangers that actions, not emotions, can cause in a young woman’s life. The narrator’s commentary, as presented above, also serves to add a satirical edge to The Unfortunate Daughter

The frontispiece and title page for The Unfortunate Daughter


The Unfortunate Daughter recounts the story of Eliza Meanwell, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Meanwell. The family lives in the countryside of England. Eliza has three sisters, Nancy, Maria, and Emma, and she is said to be the most beautiful and talented of them all. Mrs. Meanwell believes that boarding school will provide a worthwhile education for Eliza and persuades Mr. Meanwell to let her attend a boarding school. Mr. Meanwell abides, and Eliza is sent off to an unnamed boarding school owned by Mrs. V. 

A sample page from the novella depicting the generous amount of space given to the text

At school, Eliza begins learning French from her teacher named Nannette Racemier. It is revealed that Nannette used to be married to a man named Lord Wiseacre who later divorced her because she was too spritely. Despite their divorce, Lord Wiseacre offered Nannette a sum to teach at the boarding school to find and seduce an appropriate young woman to be his suitor. Upon Eliza’s arrival, Nannette finds her suitable for Lord Wiseacre and takes Eliza under her wing as her pupil. In addition to teaching Eliza French, she encourages Eliza to take up music, dancing, and jumping rope, as Nannette believes that success in these domains makes women more prone to seduction. 

After two years at school, Eliza has grown into a fine, young woman. Nannette gains the headmaster’s permission to leave campus with Eliza on special field trips and decides to take Eliza to the theatre. Here, they run into Lord Wiseacre who later offers the pair a ride back to school; instead, he takes them to his palace where he confesses his love for Eliza and asks for her hand in marriage. Eliza is bashful and intrigued by the offer, but worries about what her dad would think of the proposal. After reflection, Eliza agrees to see Lord Wiseacre again, but the pair does not wed immediately. Back at the boarding school, Nannette continues prepping Eliza to be vulnerable to seduction. In her pursuit, Nannette brings Eliza to an Imperial Female Society meeting, which calls for equality between the sexes, and she later instructs Eliza to read romance novels and to look at scandalous drawings in hopes of brewing her sexuality. 

Just as Eliza is deemed ready to elope, Mrs. Meanwell surprisingly comes to the boarding school to take Eliza home. Eliza is upset, and once at home, she acts pretentious, speaks to her family in French, and asks for a special room to conduct her music and dance. Presumably after some time has elapsed, Nannette goes to the Meanwell’s home. Here, she declares that she quit her job at the boarding school and bears news that Lord Wiseacre has a plan for them to escape to Margate via ship and get married there. The next morning, Eliza runs off with Nannette, and they meet Lord Wiseacre at the predetermined meeting space and set sail. However, Lord Wiseacre does not steer the ship to Margate; instead, they land in Dunkirk, France. 

Once in Dunkirk, Lord Wiseacre bribes a poor man to pretend to officiate their wedding. Now, Eliza and Lord Wiseacre are “married,” though Eliza does not realize this trick yet. At this point in the book, the narrator intervenes to warn the readers about the dangers of female education in a boarding school, rather than traditional domestic education in their paternal home. The narrator claims that boarding schools offer the promise of refinement of character, which really means that boarding schools make woman more prone to seduction. 

An advertisement printed before the story giving a brief overview of its plot

After this interlude, Eliza finds a note from Lord Wiseacre that admits his intentions with Eliza revealing that they were never legally married. Further, he advises her to leave him and gives her money to spend on her return home. Eliza runs off and takes shelter at a widow’s house in the French countryside. The widow, whose name is Christine, agrees to shelter Eliza temporarily, as Eliza does not want to return home and face the shame of her parents. Christine attempts to make her feel better by relaying the tragic story of her dead husband, Andre, and her two believed-to-be-dead sons, Henry and James. According to Christine, Andre died before the revolution, leaving only her sons to support her with their farm work. Unfortunately, Henry and James got heavily involved in politics and enlisted in the French army during the revolution. After some time away, Christine received word that both her sons had passed in war. As a result, she is left to live out her days alone. 

After some time has passed, it is revealed that Eliza is pregnant which provides further incentive to avoid her childhood home. Meanwhile, Mr. Meanwell searches for Eliza all over England and even submits missing person information to local newspapers without any avail, as Eliza is in France not England. Back at Christine’s, someone knocks on the door, and it happens to be Henry with his wife, Fatima, which is revealed later. Henry tells Christine that he was sent to Egypt and recounts stories of multiple battles and horrific scenes that he encountered in his time abroad at war. During a battle in Egypt, Henry prevents his troops from killing an enemy soldier. At this point, the enemy introduces himself as Amurath and expresses his gratitude to Henry by surrendering himself as Henry’s prisoner. Soon after, Amurath introduced Henry to his wife and his daughter, Fatima, at a feast. Having grown fond of Henry, Amurath told him that if he were to die in combat, he would entrust Henry with his estate and the lives of his wife and Fatima. Soon after this, Amurath died in an intense battle, leading Henry to sell his estate, move back to France with Amurath’s wife and daughter, and marry Fatima. The couple presumably leaves Christine’s house after telling this story.

In the winter, Eliza gives birth to a baby boy who dies just a few days later. Eliza falls into a depressive episode, and her health eventually resolves by the spring. Christine convinces Eliza to return home, and Eliza abides; however, Eliza reneges upon her return to England and seeks out shelter with a farmer not far from her childhood home. She passes some months here, and one day coincidentally runs into her father on a walk. Her father forgives her, and she lives at home for a while. Ultimately though, her parents send her to live out her life with a distant relative elsewhere in England.


“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803.” The Edinburgh Magazine, Or Literary Miscellany, 1785-1803, 1803, pp. 141–44.

Corry, John. The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education. London, J. Corry, 1803. 

Goodwin, Gordon. “Corry, John (fl. 1792-1836), writer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept. 23, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6357. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Harman, Claire. “Jane Austen (1775–1817).” British Writers, Retrospective Supplement 2, edited by Jay Parini, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 1–16. Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1383100011/LitRC?u_viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=342fce08. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Miller, P.J. “Women’s Education, ‘Self-Improvement’ and Social Mobility—A Late Eighteenth Century Debate.” British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, Taylor & Francis, Ltd., Oct. 1972, pp. 302-314, DOI: 10.2307/3120775. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007, Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Pitcher, E.W. “The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry (1760?–1825?).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 83–90.

Researcher: Maddie Steele

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber, or, the Terror. of. Bohemia, in which is Introduced, Stella, or, the Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale

Author: H. J. Sarrett
Publisher: Tegg and Castleman
Publication Year: c. 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 3 volumes, each 10.5cm x 8cm, 4 cm deep
Pages: 80
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .M356 1802 v.3 no.1

This chapbook translated by H.J. Sarrett and published around 1803 tells a story of murder, magic, and a maniac. A knight and his lover once separated by death may never be reunited as long as the town’s robbers are still on the loose.

 Material History

The full title of this book is Koenigsmark The Robber or the Terror of Bohemia in Which is Introduced Stella of the Maniac of the Wood, A Pathetick Tale. The cover of this edition is 10.5 cm by 8 cm and the entire novel is 4 cm deep. The front cover of this book has fallen off and is separated from the rest of the intact book; however, the cover is still included with the text. The cover is dark, chocolate-brown leather, including the binding. The leather is smooth and waxy from years of use and direct contact with skin whose oils can smooth the texture of the leather. On the spine, there are golden floral designs. The combination of leather binding and gold accents on the spine could mean this book was printed for long wear and quality. The pages are thick and smooth, similar to the texture of the average paper in a twenty-first century novel. It is sturdy and unstained, yet the paper is slightly yellowed, most likely due to age. The pages all  have small margins, about 1 cm on each side. The text fills up most of the pages. It is a small font and closely set. Most page edges are slightly worn with very few tears.

A handwritten partial table of contents for this compilation of tales appears in the opening leaves of the volume. Though Koenigsmark the Robber is the first tale in this book, whoever wrote this list did not list it here.

Koenigsmark, The Robber is the first book that appears in a compilation of seven stories listed in the following order: Koenigsmark, The Robber (1803), Phantasmagoria: Or the Development of Magical Deception (1803), Ildefonzo & Alberoni, or Tales of Horrors (1803), Ulric and Gustavus, Or Unhappy Swedes (1803), Blanche and Carlos; Or the Constant lovers: including the adventures of Valville and Adelaide, A Mexican Tale. (1803), Maximilian and Selina; Or, the Mysterious Abbot (1804), and The Voyages and Discoveries of Crusoe Richard Davis, the Son of a Clergyman in Cumberland (1801). Koenigsmark, The Robber is the only story within this book that has the author printed on the title page. The rest have no author mentioned within the book and do not appear to be by the same author as Koenigsmark, The Robber. The first six books are all printed by Tegg & Castlemen, whereas Blanche and Carlos was printed by S. Fisher. The stories do not have any evident relationship to one another except that they were published within a short time period (1801–1804) and are all of the Gothic genre. Koenigsmark, The Robber is 80 pages long.

When you first open the book, there is a bookplate with the name “Richardson Harrison” printed on it. As you turn the page, there are four blank leaves, two containing a handwritten table of contents numbered 1 through 7, correlating with the seven stories compiled together in this book. The only numbers that are filled out, though, are numbers 4 and 6.

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

Situated after the handwritten table of contents and as the first book in the volume, Koenigsmark opens with a frontispiece featuring an illustration from one of the last scenes in Koenigsmark when Koenigsmark is stabbed. Beneath the scene are the words, “Koenigsmark the Robber.” in a large font, and underneath it reads “Published June 1st 1803 by Tegg & Ca”, the publishing company for the book, Tegg and Castleman. The title page is adjacent to the frontispiece. The title covers the majority of the page and multiple lines; each line of text is a different font than the previous one. The author’s name, H. J. Sarrett, is printed in italics immediately beneath the title in a similar-sized font, as well as details about the author’s other works.

Throughout the rest of the story there are no other decorative elements: no captions, images, or texts other than the story, page numbers, and the abbreviated title, Koenigsmark, the Robber, at the top of each page.

Textual History

This edition of Koenigsmark the Robber Or, the Terror of Bohemia was published in 1803 in London by Tegg & Castleman and is credited, on the title page, to H.J. Sarrett. The book was originally written in German by Rudolf Erich Raspe and titled Koniksmark der Rauber; oderr, Der Schrecken aus Bohmen. The German version was published in 1790. H.J. Sarrett translated and adapted Raspe’s text, publishing it as Koenigsmark, The Robber in 1803. The English version by Sarrett “became the basis for a pirated chapbook purporting to be by M.G. Lewis,” the author of The Monk (Bridgwater 195). Sarrett also translated another work, The Three Monks!!!, which is mentioned on the title page of this edition of Koenigsmark.

Part of the ownership history of Koenigsmark the Robber can be traced thanks to this bookplate

There appear to be several editions of this novel published in the early nineteenth century. Montague Summers and Ann B. Tracy both identify the first publication as 1801 (Summers 380, Tracy 155). Tracy lists this edition as published by William Cole in one volume (155). The edition primarily discussed here is dated 1803, was published by Tegg & Castleman, and has 80 pages. It is collected in the third volume of a collection entitled The Marvelous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies. There is also a shorter 38-page chapbook published by James Williams that is undated. The chapbook contains the same frontispiece as the 1803 version (but without the note regarding the 1803 publication date) and the title is slightly different: the longer version uses “A Pathetic Tale” while this 38-page chapbook uses “An Affecting Tale.” This chapbook also lists no author on the title page, and there is no link in the printed text between Sarrett and the text. This chapbook is the same story with the same plot, but the longer version goes into more detail and adds more dialogue between characters.

A separate chapbook with a different title, Koenigsmark the Robber, or, The Terror of Bohemia, including the History of Rosenberg and Adelaide, and their Orphan Daughter and attributed to Matthew Lewis was published by William Cole. This edition has only 24 pages and is not dated. Interestingly, in the longer version of Koenigsmark, the orphan daughter character is particularly minor, though here she is referenced in the title. Instead of the black-and-white frontispiece, this chapbook version has a fold-out page featuring several color illustrations (“Gothic Chapbooks”).

This work does not have any prefaces or introductions in any of the editions. Based on its multiple editions, this book appears to have garnered some interest among readers. Nonetheless, since the time of its printing, there have been no additional twenty-first-century reprintings. All editions are available online through Google Books. In scholarship, the novel is used as an example of a gothic romance text as it depicts the supernatural, betrayal, romance, and violence. Popular Romanticism, for instance, gives the chapbook version attributed to Lewis as an example of gothic chapbook form.

Narrative Point of View

Koenigsmark the Robber is narrated in the third person by an anonymous narrator who never appears in the text. The narration is laconic—often brief and to the point—and focuses on filling in gaps in the story or furthering the reader’s understanding of the scene. Throughout the novel, the narration will provide insight into the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, but never does so for the antagonists.

Sample Passage:

By the time the two friends reached the inn, the night continued stormy, and they found many travelers who were unwilling to continue their journey in such horrid weather. “Bolfield,” said Herman, addressing the landlord, “you will oblige me, my friend, with giving us particulars of Rosenberg’s death, as you heard it from this servant. “Herman,” said the landlord, “since you request it, I will comply, though the subject distresses me. Konigsal you know, lies about twelve miles from this place, across the forest. Rosenberg wished to cross the forest that night, not heeding the representations of his servant, but replied, “that a soldier ought never know fear.” As they proceeded a distant clock struck twelve; they heard the cries of murder seemingly issuing from a clump of trees at a small distance from them. (9)

As in this passage, the vast majority of the narrative is told through dialogue among the characters. The dialogue is condensed together within paragraphs rather than being separated out by character. The third-person narration primarily functions to set the scene and to provide connection and context between instances of dialogue. This makes transitioning scenes as the story progresses rather easy to follow and clear.


On a dark and stormy night, two young men named Theodore and Herman went to spend a few hours at an inn in the woods where townspeople would meet up and relax together by smoking and telling stories. On the walk there, Herman tells Theodore a story of a young woman named Adelaide and how she lost her husband. Theodore had not lived in the village for long, so he did not know the story. Herman went on to tell him that a man named Adolphus Rosenberg was a young man who had fallen in love with General Kaempfer’s daughter. When Adolphus went to ask the general to marry his daughter, the general said he would only allow it if Adolphus became a soldier for him. He made him the aid-de-camp to the Colonel Monteculi.

A sample page of text from Koenigsmark the Robber, showing the start of the story

Soon after, they set off on a long voyage and ended up being attacked by assassins in the woods called the Banditti. Adolphus saves the general’s life and for that, Kaempfer gave him his blessing to be with his daughter. Only a few weeks later they married and later had a child. Unfortunately, Adolphus was called for another voyage soon after. Adelaide felt that it was a bad idea, and it turned out she was correct. Her husband was killed in the woods by assassins and when the news came back to the general, he told his daughter that he was sick and was stuck on his voyage.

This is all Herman knows. They have reached the inn where they ask the innkeeper, Bolfield, if he knows anything else about Rosenburg’s death. He tells them the story he heard from Adolphus’s servant: they were travelling through the woods when they heard a woman’s cries. When they went to help her, a group of assassins attacked them. Adolphus was fatally shot but the servant was saved by a passerby. Theodore and Herman are told a similar story by someone else in the inn, claiming supernatural occurrences, though Theodore and Herman are skeptical.

Later, a few of the Banditti including their leader, Koenigsmark, arrive the inn where Theodore overhears their plans to attack Kaempfer. Theodore us so moved by the stories that he wants to warn Kaempfer and protect him so that Adelaide would not be fatherless as well. Theodore gathers some friends and they set off to Koningsal, where Kaempfer resides. They tell him of the Banditti’s plan and prepare for them to arrive. When the Banditti show up, Theodore and his men attack and one of the banditti says that they were ordered there by Koenigsmark and that they should beware of him, because he is invincible. Theodore and his men set off to kill Koenigsmark.

They find Koenigsmark in the woods but Theodore is quickly captured and just as they were about to torture him, Koenigsmark’s lieutenant requested that they do not harm Theodore because he had saved his life in a previous battle. Koenigsmark obliges, but says Theodore will be his prisoner in the cave they keep secret in the woods forever.

Later that night, the lieutenant that requested Theodore to be left alone comes to him in his cell. They make a plan to break him out. The next day, the pair, as well as the guard for the cell, Steinfort, escape to Kaempfer who told them to go kill Koenigsmark.

When they return to the cell to fight, the lieutenant is shot and killed while Koenigsmark gets away. So, Theodore and Herman return to the inn where they met Stella: the. maniac of the woods. Bolfield tells them the tragic story of her lover, Raymond, being executed right in front of her after he harmed a servant for his money.

A while later, Theodore receives a letter telling him that colonel Kaempfer is dead and that Adelaide has taken her baby and run into the forest. Theodore and Herman her lying lifeless on the ground without her baby, but she is still alive. They discover that Koenigsmark took the child so they fight him. While he is distracted, Steinfort, the freed servant of Koenigsmark, finds the baby and takes it to safety. Theodore wounds Koenigsmark but keeps him alive so that he can kill him later. When Adelaide is reunited with her baby, a flash of lightening lights up the room and Rosenburg’s ghost appears. Adelaide leaves her body and joins him as a ghost—leaving the baby as an orphan.

Konenigsmark is hanged for execution when a cloaked spirit appears and stabs him, telling him that he fulfilled his promise. The town holds funerals for Colonel Kaempfer and Adelaide. Colonel Monteculi then adopts the child as his own and appoints Theodore and Steinfort as their guardians and protectors if he were to ever die. Theodore and Herman then leave for the army where they are great warriors with lots of success.


Bridgwater, Patrick. The German Gothic Novel in Anglo-German Perspective. Rodopi, 2013.

“Gothic Chapbooks.” Popular Romanticism. poprom.streetprint.org/narratives/90.

Koenigsmark, the Robber: Or, The Terror of Bohemia: Including the History of Rosenberg and Adelaide, and Their Orphan Daughter. Johns Hopkins Library, catalyst.library.jhu.edu/catalog/bib_2655132.

Koenigsmark the Robber: Or, the Terror of Bohemia; In Which is Introduced Stella, or, The Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale. Portsea, James Williams, n.d.

Sarrett, H. J. Koenigsmark the Robber: Or, the Terror of Bohemia; In Which is Introduced Stella, or, The Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1803, in The Marvelous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies, vol. 3. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1802–1804.

Sarrett, H. J. The Three Monks!!! From the French. [A Translation of Les Trois Moines, by M. De Faverolle, Pseudonym of Elisabeth Guénard, Afterwards Brossin, Baroness De Méré.] 1803.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune press, 1941.

Tracy, Ann B. The Gothic Novel 1790­­–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs. Lexington, The University Press of Kentucky, 1981.

Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

Female Intrepidity

Female Intrepidity

Female Intrepidity, or The Heroic Matron, A Tale

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Thomas Tegg
Publication Year: c. 1830
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 28
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F443 1830z

In this c. 1830 chapbook set in France and featuring murder and a ghost, several romances revolve around the tensions between Catholics and Protestants.

Material History

Little is known about the nineteenth-century chapbook Female Intrepidity. The author of the work is not listed anywhere within the book, however the names of the publisher, Thomas Tegg, and the printing company, Plummer and Brewis, are printed on the title page and the final page of the novel, respectively. The office in which Female Intrepidity was printed was located in Westcheap, London, as is also shown on the final page of the novel.

On the book’s spine, which is bound in leather and decorated with thin gold-embossed lines on the top and bottom, the title reads Female Intrepidity, written also in gold, capital letters, in a serif font. However, on both the title page and the first page of Chapter One of the book, two different titles are used. On the title page, the work is called Female Intrepidity, or the Heroic Matron, A Tale. On the following page, above the text of the first chapter, the title reads Female Intrepidity; or the Dangers of Superstition, a Tale of Modern Times. Additionally, the title as seen printed on the spine, Female Intrepidity is printed at the top of every page. The reason for this printing of various titles is unknown; it may have been a marketing ploy, it may be that numerous editions of the book were printed and later editions received new titles, or it may be for some other undetermined reason.

Frontispiece and title page for Female Intrepidity

The title page and the page that precedes it are both decorated with colored engravings. The first engraving, which is labeled “Frontispiece” in script below the image, shows a woman in a bright yellow dress in the midst of an attempted stabbing of the young child that sits beneath her, while a man is shown bursting through the door, grabbing her arms to restrain her. The engraving on the title page shows a man and woman conversing by lamplight. The name of the engraver is written underneath the second image: “Engraved by T. Rowlandson Esq, London.” Also listed below the second engraving is “Price Sixpence,” indicating the price each copy was sold for.

Printer notes in the bottom margins

The material condition of the book is very good considering the book’s age. As was previously mentioned, the book is bound in leather, and additionally there are triangular pieces of leather protecting the corners of the cover. The covers of the book are decorated with red and blue marbled paper. The technique of marbling was a popular method for covering books in the nineteenth-century, and every unique cover was marbled by hand, meaning no two copies looked the same. The paper on which the text is printed is thick and rough, and the pages are covered with faint brown stains. There are also traces left on the pages, presumably by the book’s readers. On page 19, a note is written in pencil in the right-hand margin that appears to read “walter,” two lines of text adjacent to the note are bracketed off, and a box is drawn around the word “Voulere.” The type itself is relatively small and closely set, and the pages have standard margins: 1.5cm on the sides and 2cm on the top and bottom. The pages are numbered in the top-outside corners, and additional numbering is included on the bottoms of some pages in order to instruct the printing company on the correct order in which the pages should be bound. These numbers are printed in middles of the bottom margins and read B, B2, and B3 on the first pages of text and C, C2, C3 on later pages of text. The entire book measures to be 11cm wide by 18cm tall.

Textual History       

Though void of an attributable author, the nineteenth-century chapbook Female Intrepidity is entrenched in a rich history. The work itself made no evident impact on the pages of nineteenth-century British newspapers or periodicals, neither as a topic of literary criticism nor as a published advertisement, but the agents responsible for its printing and assembly were highly active during the era. Thomas Tegg, the book’s publisher, Plummer and Brewis, the firm at which the book was printed, and Thomas Rowlandson, the book’s illustrator, were important figures of the literature and arts worlds of London in the early 1800s.

Thomas Tegg was born in 1776, and, following a trying childhood, started his professional career at a printing office in Sheffield. Subsequently, he moved to London to work as an apprentice at the office of “well-known publishers,” the Messrs. Arch of Cornhill. He opened his own shop in Cheapside, London, where he amassed a significant fortune by purchasing books and reselling them at a higher price. His shop soon became one of the “biggest operations in London,” and Tegg became an important public figure. In 1843, he was elected Sheriff of London, though his declining health barred him from filling the role, and, in turn, he established the “Tegg Scholarship” at the City of London School, and donated a large collection of books to the institution as well. Tegg made such an impact on his contemporary London community, in fact, that the character “Twigg” in Thomas Hood’s Tylney Hall is said to be based on Tegg (“Obituary” 650–51).

Although Tegg was a seemingly civic-minded individual, some aspects of his business practices were apparently dishonest and fraudulent. At the height of his career, Tegg focused largely on the printing and selling of gothic novels and chapbooks, and works attributed to Tegg were imprinted with a number of different names, including “Tegg and Bewick,” “Tegg and Castleman,” “T. Hurst,” “Tegg and Co.,” and finally “Thomas Tegg.” Modern scholars identify the use of various titles and names among publishers as a ploy used to make profit. Publishers of the day drew from common storehouse material and used different names in order to suggest that they were printing new editions. Each firm could bolster its profits by “pirating” works that had not previously appeared in the chapbook format. This piracy practice was used widely among publishers of the day, and it allowed Tegg to amass the larger part of his fortune (Pitcher 75). Given that Tegg participated in such practices, it would be reasonable to posit that Female Intrepidity was adapted from a longer gothic novel and reprinted under a new title and as a chapbook as a way to make a profit, though no primary source evidence can confirm this theory.

Printer information is included at the bottom of the final page of Female Intrepidity

The printing office that printed and assembled Female Intrepidity was also very active in the early nineteenth century. The firm, Plummer and Brewis, was most active between 1810 and 1830 and printed works from a wide variety of genres including gothic works, prayers and devotions, catechisms, literary criticism, and works of illustration, poetry, and fiction. Among the most important works published by the firm is “Public characters of all nations; consisting of biographical accounts of nearly three thousand eminent contemporaries,” which is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the Drawings and Prints Department.

Thomas Rowlandson, the artist responsible for the two engravings that decorate the title page of Female Intrepidity, was perhaps the most renowned among the individuals responsible for the production of Female Intrepidity. Rowlandson was born in London in 1757, and in his adolescence he was accepted as a student at the Royal Academy where he was unique as a draftsman among many students who were practicing painting in oils. His work focused mainly on political commentary and satire through caricature in the vein of William Hogarth, a celebrated artist of the day. During his professional career, Rowlandson was most consistently employed by the publisher Rudolph Ackermann. Ackermann’s firm, The Repository of Arts, was made famous for its production of fine color-plate books such as Loyal Volunteers of London and Environs for which Rowlandson drew the illustrations. From 1806 to 1821, Rowlandson was also consistently employed by Thomas Tegg in his production of Caricature Magazine as well as in collaboration for projects such as Female Intrepidity (Hayes).

Today, Rowlandson’s work is lauded as a source of invaluable insight into nineteenth-century British politics. After Rowlandson’s death, critics praised Rowlandson for the ways in which his illustrations successfully captured the feelings and emotions of the day better than any written work could, and stated that there was “so much truth in his delineations of human character” that “no artist has appeared in this country who could be considered his superior or even his equal” (“Rowlandson the Caricaturist” 52). Furthermore, some artists compared Rowlandson to Hogarth, who was one of the most prolific caricaturists of the age, by saying that Rowlandson “left behind him a record of his time which … was much wealthier in matter than Hogarth’s works” (Stephens 141). The illustrations that Rowlandson produced for the frontispiece of Female Intrepidity are unique in that they are not aligned with works most typical to Rowlandson as they are not examples of caricature or political satire.

Five copies of Female Intrepidity can be found in various libraries throughout the United States. A single copy is held by each the University of Virginia, The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Princeton University, the New York Public Library, and the Morgan Library and Museum. There is also a digital copy of the chapbook held by HathiTrust Digital Library.

Narrative Point of View

The plot of Female Intrepidity is told through the voice of a third-person omniscient narrator. The narrator supplies ample description concerning characters’ appearances, thoughts, and feelings, and is direct and deliberate in description of plot. The narration follows the story of the protagonist, Maud, exclusively throughout the book and does not shift to follow the actions and circumstances of characters not with Maud. The narrator never appears as a character in the work.

Sample Passage:

The woman now wished her a good night, and glad was Maud to be left alone. She immediately lulled her boy to sleep, while she sat on the side of the bed to watch over him; for although she had received a formal welcome, yet apprehension whispered in her ear that all was not safe. Nature, however, overcame her, and she was suddenly lost to all but the visionary chimeras of a disturbed mind. (13)

The above selection typifies the narrator’s style as it reveals Maud’s inner thoughts and feelings and focuses on Maud exclusively. The narrator describes Maud’s devotion to her son, Louis, which is a theme throughout the story, as the storyteller details with deliberation the pains that Maud takes to ensure Louis’ comfort and safety. Significantly, the narrator’s description of Maud’s feelings serves to propel the plot forward. The narrator states that Maud is wrought with worry and apprehension over the preciosity of her situation, which serves to foreshadow to the reader that a conflict is forthcoming. In this sense, through this third-person narration so heavily focused on Maud, her interior state actually functions as its own production of the plot.

The narrator’s exclusive focus on Maud’s thoughts and feelings also serves to connect the reader to Maud as opposed to other characters. Although there are examples in which the narrator describes the thoughts and feelings of Maud’s enemies and companions throughout the story, the narrator’s focus on Maud helps to develop her character more extensively, and allows the reader to best connect with her struggles and her triumphs as the plot progresses. Thus, the narrator’s focus on Maud helps to establish her as an admirable protagonist whose endeavors are paramount.  


The opening page of Female Intrepidity

The Ribemonts are a young family of three living in Paris, France. The family consists of a father, Ribemont, a mother, Maud, and their son, Louis. Ribemont and Maud are devout Catholics, Maud having converted before her marriage to Ribemont, and the two are intent on raising their son as a strict Catholic as well. When Louis is only six months old, Ribemont receives a letter from the church calling him away from his family to fulfill his religious duty. Maud is distraught, but bids Ribemont farewell and promises to raise their son as a Catholic.

Soon after Ribemont leaves, Louis starts to play with a knife. In turn, he accidentally cuts his mother’s crucifix from her neck and, in the same stroke, slices her chest. Maud is alarmed, and in examining her necklace, three drops of blood fall from the crucifix onto Louis’s forehead. Maud is terrified, and resolves to take the knife and kill Louis, who she believes is a heathen. Ribemont runs in and seizes Maud before she can act. Maud explains what happened, and, in regaining her senses and realizing Ribemont may want to finish the deed, she pleads Louis’s innocence. Ribemont relinquishes Louis to Maud, disgusted. He then reveals that he had lied about the contents of the letter, and that the reason he had to flee was because he had led a group of Catholics in an attempt to burn down a hotel frequented by Protestant travelers. Many of his accomplices had already been guillotined, and he explained he had to flee for his own safety. Ribemont then leaves his wife and child and vanishes into hiding.

In order to protect the identity of herself and Louis, Maud changes her name, and moves with her son to the countryside where they live in peace and solitude for many years. Thus, the two are jarred when they hear a knock on the door, and Maud opens it to welcome in a man who professes to have been sent by Ribemont. The man’s name is Durelette, and he informs Maud that Ribemont is dead. Maud is grief-stricken, but collects herself and invites Durelette to stay in their home.

Maud and Durelette become close companions in the following days, and Maud expresses to him that she wishes to take Louis to meet her family. Durelette eagerly offers to be their guide, and in the same breath professes his love to Maud. Maud politely rejects Durelette’s advances as she is still devoted to Ribemont. Following Maud’s refusal, Durelette says that it was Ribemont’s dying wish to test Maud’s faithfulness, and Durelette was simply acting to fulfill that wish.       

Maud, Louis, and Durelette set out on the long journey. On the third night of the voyage Durelette admits that he is lost, and a heavy rain drives them to take shelter. The travelers go to sleep in a cavern, and when Maud wakes up she finds Durelette standing over Louis, poised to drive a dagger into his heart. Durelette, seething with anger, reveals he is not in fact a friend of Ribemont’s, and that Louis’s death would be the consequence of Maud’s refusal. Maud desperately concedes that she will marry Durelette if he should let Louis go, which he does. Durelette then sends Louis out of the cave and plans to rape Maud, when Maud pulls out a dagger and stabs Durelette in the heart.

Maud and Louis flee the cave only to encounter two soldiers seeking to capture the travelers. Maud isolates one of the officers and kills him with the same dagger she used to kill Durelette. She then strips the man of his clothes and armor and puts them on herself so as to impersonate the fallen soldier. She and Louis flee on horseback. The two ride for days until they come across a lodging offered by an old woman. That night, Maud overhears a conversation between the old woman and three soldiers who come to the cottage that reveals that she and Louis are being held captive. Maud quickly gathers up Louis and initiates their escape. She finds a trapdoor that leads her through weaving underground passageways to another door, behind which she hears the moaning of “a wretched and forsaken girl” (14). Two soldiers come down to retrieve the girl, named Sisera, from her cell, and Maud follows them, undetected, to investigate. The two men, one named Genlis and the other named Topin, bring the girl to another chamber, and the girl says to them, “I will suffer death and tortures before I will comply with your base request” (15). Furious, Genlis orders Topin to tie the girl up and cut off her breast. Horrified, Maud leaps from the shadows to protect the girl. Genlis is furious, and orders that Topin execute both the girl and Maud, whose disguise leads Genlis to believe that she is an English soldier. Maud then rips open her blouse to reveal her breasts, thus revealing her true gender, and announces that she is Ribemont’s wife. At the mention of Ribemont’s name both Topin and Genlis are awestruck. Genlis quickly accuses her of lying about her relationship to Ribemont, but spares her life because she is a woman. Maud, now completely confident in her control of the situation, unties Sisera, and, threatening to kill any man who tries to bar her course, leaves the dungeon to seek help from her friend Monsieur Canton. She arrives at Canton’s palace, and the Monsieur summons Genlis on Maud’s behalf. Genlis agrees to relinquish Sisera the following night, but the night comes and passes with no sight of Sisera, and soon it is clear that Genlis fled with Sisera in his possession.

Two months pass and the Monsieur’s men are unsuccessful in their attempts to locate Sisera. Maud is on a walk through the gardens with the Monsieur, deep in thought concerning Sisera’s situation, when the Monsieur professes his love for Maud. He explains that he had married his wife, a Protestant, and she had given birth to a daughter. His wife spent her life in a depression as her parents had disowned her for marrying a Catholic, and her sadness soon drove her to death. Her dying wish was that her daughter be raised as a Protestant, which the Monsieur had striven to do for the five years of his daughter’s life, but he now believed that his daughter would benefit from a mother, namely Maud. Maud reluctantly refuses the Monsieur’s entreaty, having pledged loyalty to Ribemont.

The “Story of Sisera Fitz-Orban” contains an interpolated tale of Sisera’s history

Days later, Maud decides to go looking for Sisera herself. Monsieur Canton supports her in her quest. He vows to take care of Louis in her absence, to raise him as a Catholic per Maud’s request, and he offers her a servant, Philip, to aid her in her voyage. Maud and Philip make the first stop on their quest at the cottage in which Sisera had been imprisoned. They find, hanging from one of the ropes used to bind Sisera, a detailed account of her history written by Sisera herself. The history reveals that Sisera had been born into a very wealthy family, and that Genlis was a guest in her father’s house. Genlis wanted desperately to be Sisera’s husband but was thwarted by her father as Sisera and her family are Protestant and Genlis is a Catholic. Meanwhile, Sisera’s cousin Edmund Walker came to visit the family, and Sisera and Edmund fell deeply in love. Sisera’s father eagerly granted Edmund his daughter’s hand in marriage. Genlis was furious upon hearing this news, and in his rage he murdered Sisera’s father and kidnapped Sisera.

Maud and Philip continue their journey, which is proving to be long and treacherous. They resort to hiring a guide to lead them through the woods. Not soon after the travelers had set off, the guide stabs Philip with a dagger and three officers seize Maud and take her to Genlis. Genlis ties Maud up in a chamber and makes ready for her execution. While those in the chamber prepare, Maud feels a cold, dead hand grasp hers, and the preparations cease when Maud and Genlis hear a low, loud groan. Genlis tries to ignore the noise and is about to strike Maud through the heart with a knife when another loud groan echoes through the chamber. Following this second noise, Genlis’s hair stands on end and he begins to quake. A voice shouts, “Take this, and this thou fiend-like murderer!” and Genlis falls over, dead (23). A glowing, youthful-looking figure then appears to Maud across the room. In the meantime, Philip rushes in and frees Maud, who hurries to embrace the figure who saved her life. Upon closer examination, Maud recognizes the figure to be Sisera, and the two share a passionate embrace. Philip, Maud, Sisera, and Durcas, who had been Sisera’s keeper in her most recent prison, flee Genlis’s cottage and rent rooms at a nearby inn. Sisera then recounts the rest of her story.

Genlis took Sisera to a new prison to hide her from Monsieur Canton’s men. In the new prison, Sisera appealed to Durcas, her keeper, who agreed to help Sisera escape no matter the cost. They succeeded, and in their escape the two overheard Genlis’s plan to capture and kill Maud. Sisera was determined to save Maud, so she dressed as a boy to blend in with Genlis’s officers until she found the right moment to intercede.      

Maud and Sisera, who share their room in the inn, are awakened the next morning by Durcas. Durcas is distraught over her position as a servant to Genlis and wishes to come clean about her role. She explains that her parents had died young, leaving her a large inheritance. She then foolishly married a dishonest man who stole her fortune and abandoned her. She agreed to be Genlis’s servant in return for the shelter of his house. Her duty to Genlis was to keep watch over Genlis’s prisoners, and before Sisera, she had kept watch over Edmund Walker, whom Genlis had taken captive. Upon hearing Durcas utter this name, Sisera faints in Maud’s arms. Durcas goes on to explain that she wished to protect Edmund, and when Genlis ordered him dead she set him free to save his life. Thus Durcas ends her tale, and Maud asks to what wretched man had she been married. Durcas replies that she had been married to Durelette, the very same who had tried to rape Maud and to kill Louis.

The travelers then move on to Calais where they find a house together, and Maud writes to Monsieur Canton sending for Louis. Louis, now twenty years old, has fallen deeply in love with Monsieur Canton’s daughter, Felicia, and decides he must profess his love before leaving for Calais. Felicia reciprocates, and Monsieur Canton is delighted to give the two his blessing. Felicia, Louis, and Edmund, who had been staying at Monsieur Canton’s house, leave for Calais. Edmund and Sisera unite with overwhelming joy, as do Maud and Louis, but Maud is not at all pleased that her son is engaged to a Protestant.

Maud is unable to sleep the following night, tossing and turning over the issue of her son’s engagement. As she lies awake, the form of an ugly old woman appears to her. Maud recognizes the spirit to be that of Genlis’s mother. The spirit professes her anger with Maud and Sisera over the death of her son, and she warns that Maud’s death is imminent.

The next day, Maud and Louis go to the prison in order to visit Topin, who stands accused of killing “Lord ——,” a respected Catholic figure. Before they arrive to the prison, Maud vows to bless Felicia and Louis’s marriage, having been shaken by the events of the night before. The two reach the cell of the murderous prisoner, who quickly reveals that he is in fact Ribemont. Upon realizing that her husband stands guilty of murdering a Catholic, Maud dies from grief. Louis leaves the prison, and finds out later that his father is dead as well, by way of execution. In conclusion, Louis and Felicia are married, followed by Sisera and Edmund.


Female Intrepidity: Or the Heroic Matron, A Tale. London, Tegg, c. 1830.

Hayes, John. “Rowlandson, Thomas (1757–1827).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008

 “Obituary—THOMAS TEGG, ESQ.” The Gentleman’s Magazine: and historical review (June 1846): 650–51.

Pitcher, E.W. “Pirates and Publishers Reconsidered: A Response to Madeline Blondel.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 75 (Jan 1981): 75–81.

“Rowlandson the Caricaturist.” The Bookworm: An illustrated treasury of old-time literature (Jan 1889): 49–53.

Stephens, F.G. “THOMAS ROWLANDSON, THE HUMOURIST.” The Portfolio: an artistic periodical, vol. 22 (Jan 1891): 141–48

Researcher: Kate Snyder

The School for Friends

The School for Friends

The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale

Author: Charlotte Dacre
Publisher: Thomas Tegg
Publication Year: Unknown
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18.2cm
Pages: 28
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .D33 S 1800z

Unlike her more graphic gothic works, this Charlotte Dacre chapbook (most likely published in the early 1800s) is relatively tame—though it still features deception and romance gone awry.

Material History

Marbled cover of The School for Friends

The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale is a chapbook written by Charlotte Dacre. This chapbook does not leave many hints as to its origins or purpose of use. There are no insignias, autographs, or marks of ownership on any part of the book. In addition, it contains no traces of library use. The only clue of the book’s origin is the address of the bookseller printed on the title page. The book was sold by publisher and printer Thomas Tegg from his warehouse on 111 Cheapside Street in London. While the book has no clear ownership, physical examination of the book reveals several unique traits.

The outside of the book is plain at first glance; however, further observation uncovers the complexity and individuality of the cover. The cover of the book is 18.2cm x 11.0cm. The book is encased with paper-covered boards, and is adorned with a circular tear the size of a quarter in the middle of the front cover. The paper coating has a primarily brown marbled print with scattered striations of yellow, white, red, and black. The marbled print of the chapbook was done by hand and is specific to this piece. Other than the marbled boards, there are no images or text found on the outside of the book. However, additional intriguing elements of the text lie between the covers.

The chapbook is twenty-eight pages in length and contains no missing pages. The front leaves of the text are followed by two colored images depicting two of the more dramatic scenes of the story. There is no contextual text from the story present with the illustrations. The only writing included with both pieces is the credit to the artist, Thomas Rowlandson. The first image is entitled as the “Frontispiece” and can be found facing the title page. The second image adorns the title page complete with the full title of the book, the author, the publisher, and the address of the bookseller. The images in this chapbook of The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale are unique to this book in an important way. All printed copies of the text from this publisher were stamped with the same black image background and text; however, the color of each illustration was hand-painted and individual to each chapbook. One can observe the slight bleeding and varying intensities of the colors within the two images, further revealing their handmade origin.

Frontispiece and title page for The School for Friends

The text-containing pages also hold unique traits. The pages following the two decorative images are filled with plain, black text. The text is small and comparable to an approximate size 9 font. The exterior and lower margins are 1.1 cm, relatively large in proportion to the dimensions of the entire book. The ink is faded in some places, and the pages are tinted yellow with shadowy coffee-colored staining throughout. The brittle paper feels as though it would crack if bent. Within the text, there are a few pages that appear to have been wrinkled at the time of printing. The folds add to the peculiarity of this chapbook. Although the pages are aged and discolored, even wrinkled in some places, the dilapidation of the pages does not obstruct the readability of the text.

Page 19 appears to have been wrinkled at the time of printing

This book falls into the category of inexpensive construction and short length characteristic of other chapbooks. In accordance with its intended purpose, the physical condition of the book is well-worn and cheap feeling. The chapbook’s used but relatively good condition is a hint that the text was repeatedly read. However, the short length lends itself to a short reading time. After examining the lack of apparent ownership, physical condition, page length, and readability of the text, one can infer that the text was created with many unique qualities and was designed to be read by many different individuals after its original production.

Textual History

The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale is a chapbook written by Charlotte Dacre, not to be confused with the play, The School for Friends by Miss Chambers. The two works have no relation to one another, aside from their titles. Charlotte Dacre is a well-known gothic author, with many works credited to her, the most famous including Zofloya, The Libertine, The Passions, Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer, and Hours of Solitude. These novels are graphic and sexual, heavily focused on women characters. However, this chapbook does not include any graphic depictions or powerful female characters, thus separating it from Dacre’s other works. Charlotte Dacre wrote under the pseudonym Rosa Matilda at the beginning of her career, which is believed to be derived from the demon character, Matilda, in Matthew Lewis’s The Monk (Price 249). Even more bizarre, Charlotte Dacre’s legal name is actually Charlotte K. Byrne; Dacre is believed to be another pseudonym she adopted later in her writing career (Price 249). Because the text credits Dacre as the author, it is reasonable to assume that the text was written later in her life. Aside from the novels she wrote, little else is known about her life or this text attributed to her.

Throughout the few biographies and documentation of the little-known life of Charlotte Dacre, there is no evidence of her writing not only this chapbook, but any chapbook. There is no indication or record of Dacre ever writing any short stories. However, the chapbook is indeed accredited to her and has at least six known existing prints. Special collection libraries at Princeton University, Yale University, Harvard University, University of Florida, and the National Library of Scotland all contain copies of this chapbook. Almost all the information these libraries list is identical to the information of the copy held at the University of Virginia Library. However, the edition found at Yale University notes the dimensions of the illustrations to be 19cm, differing from the 18cm dimensions specified in all other copies. In addition, the copy at Yale also gives the publication year of 1810, a contrast to the unspecified publication date in 1800 that the other libraries list. Observing the information provided from the multiple copies reveals that they all share the same publisher, Thomas Tegg, and illustrator, Thomas Rowlandson.

Examining the publisher of the text reveals further information about the history of the chapbook. Fortunately, records show that “the market for Gothic chapbooks was controlled by several publishing houses in London, including…Thomas Tegg” (Porter 513–14). Found on the second page of the text is the very name “Thomas Tegg” along with the location of his shop. Tegg had one of the most popular chapbook retailers in his warehouse on 111 Cheapside and was responsible for the distribution of countless chapbooks throughout London. Around 1807, Tegg partnered with a well-known illustrator, Thomas Rowlandson, who was known for his superior artistic talent and satirical sense of humor within his work (Stephens 142; Grego 70). Rowlandson began to draw illustrations for the chapbooks that Tegg published. The names of these two men are found not only within this chapbook, but on many chapbooks printed in London around the early 1800’s. Unfortunately, while most of Rowlandson’s known works have been compiled into several volumes, none document the illustrations found within The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale. The massive amount of works published by Tegg and the absence of any record of the text’s illustrations by Rowland further the obscure history of this chapbook.

Publisher info at the bottom of the title page for The School for Friends

However, obscure origins are not unique in the case of chapbooks. This is because of the very purpose of chapbooks—they were created to be cheap avenues for lower- and middle-class people to read the famous, and expensive, texts of the time period. In order to do so, the chapbooks were often summaries of other novels, simply including the most horrific aspects of the original. Within chapbooks, “there were numerous examples of plagiarisms, abridgements, and extractions (title and principal characters remaining the same) of popular Gothic novels” (Porter 513). In fact, Dacre herself was a victim of this plagiaristic aspect as, “many of the most popular chapbooks were redactions of minor Gothic novels such as Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya the Moor” (Porter 513–14). Because of the obscurity of the text’s history and the absence of historical mention, several hypotheses can be formed. One thought is that this chapbook was not a well-received or successfully marketed work by Charlotte Dacre, explaining the few found texts and the absence of any reviews or articles of this piece. Another possibility is that Dacre never wrote this chapbook. This piece, like many other chapbooks, could be a copy or short story extracted from one of her more well-known novels or works of poetry.

Narrative Point of View

The narrator of Dacre’s The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale is unidentified in the text. The narrator is never mentioned within the story, nor is his existence recognized within the plot. The narrator is all-knowing and has proficient insight into the histories, personalities, and backgrounds of each of the characters. Descriptions of physical appearance are rare; when description is present, it is that of the setting or character personality. The extent of physical description of characters is the occasional remark of “handsomeness.” The narration is written in the past tense, thus reading like the recount of a story from long ago. The narrator often utilizes sentences that are paragraph length, and quotation marks are almost non-existent in the text. In addition, the writing is matter-of-fact and brushes over unessential details. The narrative is suggestive of a summary of a longer novel.

Sample Passage:

On the eleventh day, when he was dining with a jovial party, and, for the first time, got intoxicated, he left the house of his friends at twelve o’clock, with the intention of going home, but on his way met one of those unfortunate women that infest the town, who accosted him in a mild tone of voice, at the same time laying hold of his arm ; he being heated with wine, in a harsh manner upbraided her for pursuing such a wretched life ; but the artful creature soon won him over to her purpose. She brought him to her lodgings, and in her perceived a very handsome woman most magnificently dressed.

About four o’clock in the morning he left her, having given her all his ready cash. But what a different took place; he was now quite sober, and ashamed of what had passed. When arrived at his lodgings, he stood as if afraid to knock, and when the door was opened, he blushed, thinking that the servant looked at him and knew his faults. On entering his chamber he thought how much better it would have been had he not listened to the voice of the charmer. All the time he was in bed he was disturbed with frightful dreams, and he did not arise till awakened in the morning by his father, who told for him the future to keep sober. (11)

A letter between Matilda and Henry (p. 10)

The narrative point of view in this text functions to retell the story in both a removed and deliberate manner, causing the story to be more realistic. While the narrator is familiar with the thoughts of the characters, the narrator avoids telling this story under the influence of his own emotions or opinions. This detachment serves to increase the reliability of the narrator because the reader can trust that no aspects of the story are skewed in their presentation because of the notions of the narrator. The narrator’s ability to reveal the thoughts occurring in the minds of the characters and to recount extensive knowledge of their past affirms the trust of the reader. The absence of quotes in the above passage is indicative of the entire text. The intentional absence of quotes lends itself to the primarily detached style of narration, but it also serves to emphasize the rare passages enclosed by quotes.

The primary examples are the letters in the text. The letters are always enclosed in quotes to accentuate the authenticity of the writing, quite a rare occurrence in this text. The narrator uses these quoted letters sent from one character to another to confirm the accuracy of the story he is presenting. With these techniques, the detached yet intentional style of narration leads the text to be more believable.


The opening page of the chapbook

The story begins with Mr. Wilkinson and his family living in a valley of Cumberland. Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson spoil their young son, Henry, and refuse to send him to school. One night, Mr. Wilkinson visits with his old friend, Mr. Blanford, who quickly convinces Mr. Wilkinson to send his son to live with his family, during which time he will educate Henry along with his two children, Frederic and Matilda, who are Henry’s age.

Henry had been living with the Blanford’s in Cumberland for ten years and had become like another sibling of the family. Suddenly, he receives a visit from his father informing him that his mother has died. Henry moves back home with his father. After two years, Mr. Wilkinson decides to take his son on a trip to London. The evening before Henry leaves, he sees a beautiful girl and learns only that her name is Caroline. The next evening, the Blanford’s host a going away party for Henry and the mysterious girl arrives with Mr. Braveman, Mr. Wilkinson’s old companion. Henry realizes she is Mr. Braveman’s daughter. During the party, Matilda and Frederic say goodbye to Henry—he promises that he will write often.

Upon arrival in London, Henry is unimpressed with the stormy atmosphere and crowded streets. The attractions of city life distract Henry from keeping his promise to write to Matilda, Frederic, and his other friends back home. One morning, Henry suddenly remembers his promise when his father hands him a package of letters. The first two letters are short greetings from Mr. Blanford and Frederic. The final letter is from Matilda. In the letter, Matilda reproaches Henry for having forgotten his friends at home, and she highlights the worry that Henry has heaped upon the family by not writing to them since his departure. She also talks about spending time with Caroline and reveals that Frederic has fallen in love with her.

Henry feels horrible for not writing. However, his friends soon arrive and convince him to go out, and Henry decides to delay his replies for a few days. Henry goes ten days with the letters unanswered when a drunken night with a prostitute brings him back to his senses and spurs him to respond to the letters. He begins to write his replies when Frederic suddenly arrives at his apartment. He informs Henry that all is well at home, but reiterates how disappointed Matilda is about not hearing from Henry. Henry finishes his replies and hopes that they will make amends for his absent mind.

Later that evening, Henry decides to take Frederic out to meet one of his new friends, George Sterling. Sterling is a notorious liar and cheat; however, Henry is naïve to his stained reputation. Upon their meeting, Frederic is immediately suspicious of George Sterling. Frederic leaves the next morning to visit the Colonel and is deployed to the army a few days later.

Mr. Wilkinson soon grows tired of London and decides to return to Cumberland. As Henry and Mr. Wilkinson are about to depart, George stops by to say goodbye. Henry politely invites George to visit Cumberland. George immediately accepts the invitation and declares that he will visit soon. On the way to Cumberland, Mr. Wilkinson informs Henry that he disapproves of George, but Henry refuses to listen to his father’s warnings.

Upon arriving home, Henry makes amends with his friends for not writing. However, he waits a month before he decides to visit Caroline again upon an invitation from her father. He begins to make regular visits to the Braveman household on the false pretense of conversing with Mr. Braveman. His real purpose in visiting is to see Caroline. One morning, Mr. Braveman invites Henry to his home to celebrate Caroline’s birthday. As soon as they see one another that night, they kiss.

The next day, George Sterling suddenly arrives at the Wilkinson home and declares that he is staying for several months. When Henry arrives home and learns of George’s plans, he is frustrated because he must now entertain his friend rather than visit his lover. Henry goes a week without visiting Caroline when Mr. Braveman inquires of his absence. Henry explains that his friend had suddenly come into town. Mr. Braveman invites both George and Henry to his home. Henry is upset because he does not want George to intrude on his meetings with Caroline. Upon seeing Caroline, George decides to charm Caroline, even after he learns Henry is in love with her. From then on, Henry is unable to visit Caroline alone, even though Caroline despises George. George soon decides to visit on his own every morning when Henry is busy with his studies. George senses that he is getting nowhere with Caroline, and he devises a plan. He lies to Caroline and tells her that when Henry is not visiting her, he is seeing other women. In the same manner, he tells Henry that a young man had called upon Caroline and that she was interested in this suitor. Caroline and Henry believe the deception and begin to hate one another.

George detects Caroline’s detest of Henry, and he decides to visit Caroline alone for his final attempt at charming her. He attempts to make her come to London with him. He suddenly grabs her around the waist and she screams. About this time, Henry decides to make amends with Caroline and interrupts the attack causing George to flee. Henry catches Caroline and they fall back in love with each other.

However, the haughty ways Henry had learned in the city cause him to be cold to Caroline after they confess their love for on another. He accepts an invitation to travel abroad for several years without giving a thought about Caroline. Henry meets a woman during his travels and forgets about Caroline. Caroline also attracts a gentleman, but she never accepts his advances.

Because of the many years Henry is gone, Caroline is convinced things are over between the two of them. She decides to write a letter to Henry detailing that she had loved him in the past but no longer loves him. Henry responds to the letter with the same sentiments.

Soon after Henry responds to Caroline’s letter, he receives a letter from Matilda informing him that Frederic has died in battle. The news spurs Henry to leave his mistress and travel back to London. Before he can arrive, his father suddenly dies.

Before he died, Frederic had formed a strong bond with a fellow soldier named William Wosley. William travels to Cumberland in obedience to a vow he had made to Frederic before his death. When he arrives at Cumberland, Matilda sees him and instantly falls in love.

Soon after, Henry returns home to join his friends in Cumberland. When he arrives, he sees Mr. Braveman and enquires about Caroline. He learns that she is not well and rushes to see her. When Caroline sees Henry, she immediately recovers. They embrace and apologize to one another for their letters. They reunite and soon after are married alongside Matilda and William Wosley.


Dacre, Charlotte. The School for Friends: A Domestic Tale. London, Thomas Tegg.

Grego, Joseph. Rowlandson the Caracticurist, Vol. 2, London, Chatto and Windus, 1880. www.gutenberg.org/files/45981/45981-h/45981-h.htm

Porter, Franz J. “Gothic Chapbook.” The Encyclopedia of Romantic Literature, Vol. 1, edited by Frederick Burwick, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp. 513–15.

Price, Fiona. “Dacre, Charlotte.” Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, Vol. 1, edited by Christopher J. Murray, New York, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004, pp. 249–51.

Stephens, F. G. “THOMAS ROWLANDSON, THE HUMOURIST.” The Portfolio: An Artistic Periodical, Vol. 22, (Jan. 1891): 141–48.

Researcher: Lauren Brook Knight