The History of Emily Montague
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Frances Moore Brooke (12 January 1724 – 23 January 1789) was an English novelist, essayist, playwright and translator. Brooke was born in, Claypole, Lincolnshire, the daughter of a clergyman. By the late 1740s, she had moved to London, where she embarked on her career as a poet and playwright. As well, under the pseudonym of "Mary Singleton, Spinster," she edited thirty-seven issues of her own weekly periodical, "Old Maid" (1755–1756).
In 1756 she married Rev. Dr. John Brooke, rector at Colney, Norfolk. The following year he left for Canada as a military chaplain while his wife remained in England. In 1763 she wrote her first novel, The History of Lady Julia Mandeville In the same year Brooke sailed to Quebec, Canada to join her husband, who was then chaplain to the British garrison there. In autumn 1768 she returned to London, where she continued her career.
The History of Lady Julia Mandeville was Frances Brooke’s first and most successful novel. Prior to the publication of her own work, Brooke was well-known as the translator of Marie Jeanne Riccoboni’s Lettres de Milady Juliette Catesby à Milady Henriette Campley (1760).
Engaging with several political and aesthetic issues of the day, Julia Mandeville considers forms of education, prescriptive gender roles and the institution of marriage. The novel is written in the epistolary form and contains seventy-seven letters, written predominantly by the witty widow, Lady Anne Wilmot and by the hero of the novel, Harry Mandeville. Although some critics saw it as a sentimental novel, it responds to and critiques the genre, displaying the influence of Rousseau’s Emile (1762) and Julie (1761) and Richardson’s Clarissa (1748).
The History of Emily Montague can be read both as a novel of sensibility with a sentimental love story and as a highly politicized depiction of life in eighteenth-century Quebec. It has much to say about confrontations between the Old World and the New, Huron and Iroquois cultures, and progressive gender roles. It has an enchanting cast of characters: the modest heroine, the dashing colonial hero, the witty coquette, the waggish soldier, the unrequited lover, and the wise father.
Brooke’s novel was published 1769 in England shortly after she returned from her five-year stay in Canada. Its debut has tempted some literary historians to claim her as the first novelist in North America, but most anthologists and literary biographers think that a stretch even though it would be another decade before a recognized novel was published in the United States. There is general agreement that The History of Emily Montague was the first Canadian novel. Recently, The History of Emily Montague has been received as a feminist text with Brooke participating in a critique of rituals of courtship, "petticoat politics," and fashionable "propriety."
- Category: Classics
- Published: 23 May 1769
- Publisher: Silver Fork Novels
- Print Length: 475 Pages
- Language: English