Eliza Fowler Haywood (1693?-1759) was one of the most popular and prolific writers of the early 18th Century. After a none-too-successful career as an actress, and having acquired a husband (she said) and two children, and lost the former, she hit her stride in 1719 with Love in Excess; Or, The Fatal Enquiry. Over the next forty years she produced a stream of novels and other works which were the equivalent of today's Mills & Boon or Harlequin romances. Immensely popular, they were read mostly by women, but sneered at by the male arbiters of literary merit. Edmund Gosse thought enough of them to include them in his Gossip in a Library, though he condemns them as not as good as the work of Richardson and Fielding – a high bar indeed. Since the 1980s, however, they have enjoyed something of a revival, a few of them being published by small academic or feminist publishers. Regardless of that, they are great fun to read, and recommended to those who like their books a century or three old.
This selection contains the following
· Idalia, or the Unfortunate Mistress
· Love in Excess; Or, The Fatal Enquiry
· A Wife to be Let (A play, in which she acted herself)