The sentimental satire of Sophia Baddeley.
The actress and courtesan cour·te·san
A woman prostitute, especially one whose clients are members of a royal court or men of high social standing.
[French courtisane, from Old French, from Old Italian cortigiana Sophia Baddeley Sophia Baddeley (1745 - 1786), English actress, singer and courtesan, was born in London, the daughter of Valentine Snow, a sergeant-trumpeter. Early life, musical career
As a child she was trained by her father for a future musical career. and her biographer and companion Elizabeth Steele challenged conventional narratives of female identity at the end of the eighteenth century. In their brief years of cohabitation A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.
Couples cohabit, rather than marry, for a variety of reasons. They may want to test their compatibility before they commit to a legal union. , recounted in The Memoirs of Mrs. Sophia Baddeley (1787), they exchanged domesticity for financial independence and established a prominent place on the public stage. In her writing, Steele exploits the generic flexibility of the scandalous memoir in order to recuperate re·cu·per·ate
To return to health or strength; recover. Baddeley's reputation and presents their unorthodox bond as a companionate marriage companionate marriage
A marriage in which the partners agree not to have children and may divorce by mutual consent, with neither partner responsible for the financial welfare of the other. . Steele imagines a fluid model of gendered identity in a text punctuated by cross-dressing, bed swapping, and duels. However, she also translates the women's experience of domestic violence, financial exploitation, and sexual double standards into a feminist polemic and a satire of fashionable society. The tradition of the referential scandal chronicle, which established gossip and voyeurism Voyeurism
See also Eavesdropping.
turned into stag for watching Artemis bathe. [Gk. Myth.: Leach, 8]
elders of Babylon
watch Susanna bathe. as powerful sources of female agency, is combined with the language of sentimental romance and moral reform. The Memoirs also reveals the impact of the literary marketplace on women's self-representations as the narrative is shaped by the economic and political agendas of Steele's publisher and ghostwriter.
The Memoirs of Mrs. Sophia Baddeley is rarely mentioned in discussions of the life writing of eighteenth-century courtesans, as scholars have tended to focus on the scandalous memoirists of the midcentury such as Charlotte Charke Charlotte Charke (née Cibber, also Charlotte Secheverell, aka Charles Brown) (13 January 1713 – 6 April 1760) was an English actress, playwright, novelist, autobiographer, and noted transvestite. , Constantia Phillips, and Laetitia Pilkington Laetitia Pilkington (born Laetitia van Lewen) (c. 1709 - July 29, 1750) was a celebrated Anglo-Irish poet and important source of information on the early 18th century. . (1) As Lynda M. Thompson argues, the life writing of courtesans inhabited an amorphous literary space, populated by fictional memoirs, whore biographies, secret histories, criminal conversation literature, political apologies, true confessions True Confessions was a magazine published by Fawcett Publications, beginning in 1922. With a cover price of 25 cents, the front cover of the October, 1922, issue heralded, "Our Thousand Dollar Prize Winner—'All Hell Broke Loose'. , and actors' memoirs. (2) Their self-representations remained entangled in a network of voices and representations for, as Clare Brant brant or brant goose, common name for a species of wild sea goose. The American brant, Branta bernicla, breeds in the Arctic and winters along the Atlantic coast. expresses it, "writing is in the case of these texts not an issue of breaking silence but stilling tongues." (3) However, in her sentimental satire, Steele demonstrates that while the courtesan was an individual subject to a well-worn script, she was also the author of her own fiction.
Despite its critical neglect, the Memoirs informs the debate within eighteenth-century studies surrounding the discourse of sensibility and its diverse characterization as both an empowering re-evaluation of femininity and a disabling set of social dictates. (4) As Patricia Meyer Spacks's discussion of eighteenth-century privacy suggests, the language of sensibility enabled a fantasy of intimacy, transparency, and accessibility for readers. (5) Yet, as Spacks also notes, it provided women writers with a public performance that could be adapted in order to disguise the realities of their personal histories and present circumstances. (6) Women writers who drew on the language of sensibility at the end of the eighteenth century evoked dangerous associations with affectation af·fec·ta·tion
1. A show, pretense, or display.
a. Behavior that is assumed rather than natural; artificiality.
b. A particular habit, as of speech or dress, adopted to give a false impression. , self-display, and sexual excess that was a dominant strand within the antisentimental discourse of the period. (7) However, in their struggles to recuperate and reclaim their reputations, these writers participated in the redemption and redirection of sensibility since social debates could be publicly expressed in an apparently privatized language of feeling. (8) The Memoirs also engages with questions of female authorship and highlights the implications for women writers of working in a range of literary modes. Satire coexists with sentiment as Steele not only looks back to the earlier tradition of the referential scandal chronicle associated with figures such as Delarivier Manley Mary Delarivier (sometimes spelt Delariviere, Delarivière or de la Rivière) Manley (1663 or c. 1670 - 1724) was an English novelist of amatory fiction, playwright, and political pamphleteer. , but also anticipates the sentimental and literary self-portrait of Mary Robinson at the turn of the nineteenth century. The general decline of satire and scandal in favor of sentimental expression suggests that during this period women writers discovered a public authority in the privatized language of femininity rather than a public discourse of political gossip. However, Steele's narrative complicates the critical orthodoxy that separates the satirical eye from the sympathetic heart and instead invites us to consider the relationship between them.
NEVER BE AT THE DISPOSAL OF ANY MAN
The Memoirs focuses on the period 1769-74, when Baddeley was at the height of her fame as an actress, singer, and courtesan and was living with Steele in London's fashionable West End. (9) Steele identifies herself as a lifelong "friend and confidante con·fi·dante
1. A woman to whom secrets or private matters are disclosed.
2. A woman character in a drama or fiction, such as a trusted friend or servant, who serves as a device for revealing the inner thoughts or intentions " to Baddeley. (10) However, throughout the Memoirs their connection remains highly ambiguous: perhaps a sentimental friendship, a lesbian relationship, or a business arrangement in which Steele acted as Baddeley's procuress Pro`cur´ess
n. 1. A female procurer, or pander.
Noun 1. procuress - a woman pimp
fancy man, pandar, pander, panderer, pimp, procurer, ponce - someone who procures customers for whores (in England they call a . In her energetic and gossipy account, Steele gallops her readers from the opera house to Ranelagh, from the shops of Paris to the royal naval review
Wearing livery: Liveried footmen stood on the palace steps.
Adj. 1. servants, and spend [pounds sterling]700 in an afternoon's shopping spree. In addition, both women reject familial and domestic roles. Baddeley is estranged from her husband and refuses to accept formal settlements from her male protectors, allegedly declaring, "she would never be wholly at the disposal of any man" (6:157). Steele identifies herself as "a married woman though I did not live with my husband" (3:28) while maintaining that she and Mr. Steele "were on good terms" (3:29). However, she rarely integrates her households or personae, living her life along parallel lines as if her existence with Baddeley provides an alternative to domestic confinement or contentment.
Despite this rejection of domesticity in practice, in the Memoirs Steele deploys domesticity as a trope trope
1. A figure of speech using words in nonliteral ways, such as a metaphor.
2. A word or phrase interpolated as an embellishment in the sung parts of certain medieval liturgies. in her attempts to reclaim Baddeley's reputation. As a courtesan, Baddeley was a member of an elite subculture, and her self-image and personal history were tradable commodities in an era fascinated by the private lives of public characters. (11) The "Tete-a-Tete" series of the Town and Country Magazine, published 1769-92, exemplified this obsession in its textual and visual couplings of the demimonde dem·i·monde
a. A class of women kept by wealthy lovers or protectors.
b. Women prostitutes considered as a group.
2. and bon ton. (12) In eighteenth-century sources, the courtesan was typically presented in opposition to a domestic ideal of privacy, frugality, self-regulation, and modesty. The biographical collection Characters of the Present Most Celebrated Courtezans (1780) portrayed Baddeley as the victim of her unruly desires, claiming that her final years were characterized "by a dreadful and excessive indulgence in love, liqour, lust, and laudanum laudanum (lôd`ənəm), tincture, or alcoholic solution, of opium, first compounded by Paracelsus in the 16th cent. Not then known to be addictive, the preparation was widely used up through the 19th cent. to treat a variety of disorders. ." (13) In John Williams's satirical poem The Children of Thespis (1787), she was configured as "an eminent instance of feminine terror / A public example to keep us from error," while in the Town and Country Magazine, she appeared in need of "prudence and economy." (14)
Caroline Gonda argues that "[i]f female virtue is coded as that which is private and silent," then women's public virtue must be "a contradiction in terms Noun 1. contradiction in terms - (logic) a statement that is necessarily false; "the statement `he is brave and he is not brave' is a contradiction"
logic - the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference ." (15) By relocating Baddeley within the private sphere The private sphere is the complement or opposite of the public sphere. Heidegger argues that it is only in the private sphere that one can be one's authentic self.
See also privacy. , Steele attempts to restore depth and interiority to a figure defined by surface and self-display. In recalling their household arrangements, she adopts a vocabulary of modesty and domestic economy, noting that "when we dined alone, a single joint served us for dinner, and nothing was drank but small beer, As lived our servants, so did we" (2:197-8). Steele converts aristocratic fortunes into feminine domestic pleasures as she depicts the women gossiping and dressmaking while surrounded by their beloved cats and canaries. She also draws on a language of sentiment as the narrative includes numerous illustrations of Baddeley's "beneficent be·nef·i·cent
1. Characterized by or performing acts of kindness or charity.
2. Producing benefit; beneficial.
[Probably from beneficenceon the model of such pairs as acts" that, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Steele, "proceeded from an innate sensibility and feeling for the distresses of others" (2:103). In a sentimental tale embedded within the Memoirs, Steele recalls the women's encounter with a weeping girl in Hyde Park who had been turned out of home by her father after a secret romance. The chance meeting between a naive young girl and a procuress evokes the opening motif of William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress A Harlot's Progress (also known as The Harlot's Progress) is a series of six paintings (1731, now lost) and engravings (1732) by William Hogarth. The series shows the story of a young woman, Mary (or Moll) Hackabout, who arrives in London from the country and (1730-31). In their own lives, Steele and Baddeley reject the narrative of the return of the prodigal daughter to paternal protection that was a common plot in the memoirs of their scandalous forbears, such as Charke and Phillips. However, in her account of the young girl, Steele also resists Hogarth's cliche and faces the wrath of the father in order to "bring about a reconciliation" (3:215).
Steele's most persistent strategy for liberating herself and Baddeley from the roles of bawd and courtesan is to configure their unconventional bond as an idealized companionate marriage. She portrays Baddeley as "a tender and endearing partner of domestic life" (6:189) and recalls the "placid satisfaction, that no place, but home with quiet, affords" (2:104). Betty Rizzo argues that this "female coalitiona against the patriarchy" ultimately replicates the unequal power relations of marriage, with Steele playing the "ruling" husband to Baddeley's "submissive" and "manipulative" wife. (16) The Memoirs does reveal Steele's regulatory technologies and regimes of surveillance. She plays the voyeur voy·eur
1. A person who derives sexual gratification from observing the naked bodies or sexual acts of others, especially from a secret vantage point.
2. An obsessive observer of sordid or sensational subjects. , listens at keyholes, vets the suitability of visitors, locks doors and leaves the house only when Baddeley is safely ensconced with the hairdresser. Meanwhile, Baddeley engages in secret correspondence and clandestine meetings with her latest beau in order to undermine and evade Steele's control. However, alongside this power struggle, the Memoirs presents a model of interdependent selfhood and coauthored personal identity that is expressed in a democratic text in which both voices can be heard. Baddeley frequently asserts her independence, declaring, '"My person is my own, and I will do with it as I please'" and '"will not be debarred from seeing who I please, and doing with them what I please'" (3:141-2). In these moments of confrontation, Steele establishes the depth of the women's emotional bond. For when she threatens to leave home, she recalls that Baddeley "flew to me, took me fast into her arms, and cried, and sobbed so much, that it made my heart ach [sic]: she then fell on her knees, begged my pardon, and declared, if I left her, she would stab herself the next minute" (3:145). It is crucial to Steele's self-conception that her bond with Baddeley takes precedence over any romantic or professional entanglement. She often asserts, in contradiction to the evidence of her narrative, that "Mrs. Baddeley traversed the gay scenes of life, with a heart disengaged from the trammels of love" (1:22). Baddeley's intellectual and sexual boredom with her protector Lord Melbourne is implicit in her frequent headaches (that coincide with his arrival and departure) and her characterization of his absences as her "holidays" (3:11). However, in addition to Melbourne, Steele suggests that Baddeley was "restless" unless she had "a favourite visitor of her own choice, to whom she might ... bestow her unbought favours" (2:217). As well as undermining the sexual economy, these young officers or under-graduates threaten Steele's carefully constructed domestic idyll idyll
In literature, a simple descriptive work in poetry or prose that deals with rustic life or pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment. . For the Memoirs stages a bitter rivalry for Baddeley's affections, structured into a clash between abusive and inconstant in·con·stant
1. Changing or varying, especially often and without discernible pattern or reason.
2. Relating to a structure that normally may or may not be present. lovers and the loyal hero Steele.
The women's partnership and cohabitation began following Baddeley's suicide attempt in the aftermath of her abandonment by her lover John Hanger at the age of twenty-four. In this narrative of seduction and betrayal, Steele becomes Baddeley's rescuer, "extricat[ing] her from every difficulty" (1:34) and establishing a joint residence for the two women in St. James's Place. The Memoirs presents Steele and Baddeley as protagonists in their own sentimental romance. However, as Cora Kaplan argues, romance narratives may invite identification across sexual difference and allow women to inhabit a range of subject positions simultaneously. (17) Steele imagines herself as an ideal alternative to the courtesan's male protectors and claims that if Baddeley "would confide in me for her pilot, I would soon steer her into a safe harbour" (5:179). However, elsewhere she aligns herself with Baddeley's ruined and infatuated suitors: "[O]f course it was not to be disputed; that, I had given her my little fortune, which I had for years worked for, and did not repine re·pine
intr.v. re·pined, re·pin·ing, re·pines
1. To be discontented or low in spirits; complain or fret.
2. To yearn after something: Immigrants who repined for their homeland. ; that, I had also forsaken for·sake
tr.v. for·sook , for·sak·en , for·sak·ing, for·sakes
1. To give up (something formerly held dear); renounce: forsook liquor.
2. my husband, neglected my family, and given her myself, and would now give up my life, if necessary, to serve her" (5:221). Usurping the role of victim from Baddeley, Steele quotes the comments of her acquaintance Mr. P who suggests that her relationship to Baddeley is a "strange infatuation" that will inevitably end in "ruin" (5:204-5, 205). In her study of eighteenth-century actresses, Kristina Straub argues for "a somewhat less all-or-nothing approach" to the question of female sexuality and suggests that the figure of the actress "may gesture toward possible sites of resistance to dominant sexual ideology." (18) Literary and sexual experimentation coexists in Steele's ambiguous self-presentation, as she fashions a sexualized model of female authorship. She fights off a "foot-pad, in the Hammersmith-road" (6:55), brandishes a pistol to defend Baddeley from her lover's kidnap attempt, and impersonates a man in a French inn in a sexual farce of mistaken identity. Steele revels in these opportunities "to forget my sex" (5:31), as she expresses it, and triumphantly recalls the observation of a friend's husband that she is "fitter for a man, than a woman" (5:46). This heroic masculine persona is created out of her relationship to Baddeley and is reinforced by her role as the writer and reader of a shared romance. However, at times, Steele seems overwhelmed by her desire to play the lead. This tendency reaches its apex in the fifth volume when she relocates the action to Ireland and recasts herself as the picaresque pic·a·resque
1. Of or involving clever rogues or adventurers.
2. Of or relating to a genre of usually satiric prose fiction originating in Spain and depicting in realistic, often humorous detail the adventures of a roguish hero while Baddeley is left waiting in the wings.
"WHILST I LEVEL AT ONE, I DO NOT MISS THE CROWD"
In addition to exploring the textual pleasures of fictional identification, Steele mobilizes the women's personal experience to produce a compelling social critique. Thompson argues in her discussion of Phillips and Pilkington that "[b]eneath the gloss of sexual innuendo innuendo n. from Latin innuere, "to nod toward." In law it means "an indirect hint." "Innuendo" is used in lawsuits for defamation (libel or slander), usually to show that the party suing was the person about whom the nasty statements were made or why the comments and flirtatiousness Flirtatiousness
See also Seduction.
comic strip character who flirts to win over boys. [Comics: Horn, 110]
boisterous and indecorous French dance designed to arouse audiences. [Fr. Hist. they wrote about debt, penury pen·u·ry
1. Extreme want or poverty; destitution.
2. Extreme dearth; barrenness or insufficiency.
[Middle English penurie, from Latin , imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.
former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]
German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist. , humiliation and violent abuse." (19) Steele works in this tradition, vividly recounting Hanger's violence and claiming that Baddeley's arms had been beaten "black, from wrist to shoulder, and her neck also" (2:139). She exploits the public forum of print in order to ensure that her verbal attacks reach the widest possible audience, noting that on one occasion she told Hanger "he was a villain for using her as he had done; that I would expose him to the world for the sake of all women, that no other might be so deceived as she had been" (5:123). In these moments the sentimental fiction becomes a feminist polemic, and Steele and Baddeley appear to have no need for a hero, as Steele puts Hanger on trial for his brutal beatings: "This charge of her's I knew to be a fact; he has often beat her in such a manner, that I have seen his cruel marks, and have wept over them--Many of her friends, now living, will testify the same" (4:125). Steele's transformation of the Memoirs into a displaced courtroom is consistent with Brant's contention that the self-representation of scandalous women was shaped within and against legal discourse. (20) The particularities of Hanger's crime also provide an opportunity to place the character of the "gentleman" in the dock, as Steele ironically remarks, "from a man of his rank and title I had reason to expect the behaviour of a gentleman" (5:7). This movement is consistent with Spacks's argument that in these texts uncovering "scandalous privacies becomes a device for revealing more public scandals, rarely acknowledged as such." (21) By placing the collective term of the "gentleman" under strain, Steele transforms the specific instance of domestic violence into evidence of class exploitation and a failure of aristocratic responsibility, She encourages her readers to link these failures in the domestic realm to the inadequacies of the social order.
Steele therefore targets both the particular and the general, presenting the Memoirs as a profitable act of extortion, public vengeance, and vindication, and yet also imagining it as a "lesson to some of my young readers, to be upon their guard, against the treachery and deceptions of man" (2:165). In her self-identification as a moralist mor·al·ist
1. A teacher or student of morals and moral problems.
2. One who follows a system of moral principles.
3. One who is unduly concerned with the morals of others. she compares herself to the "most chaste and correct writers," commenting "I have thrown the cap at individuals; they fling it at the crowd; but, whilst I level at one, I do not miss the crowd" (6:196). Reviewers generally concurred with this ambivalence. The Critical Review presents the Memoirs as a work in which "[c]haracters are unfeelingly un·feel·ing
1. Having no physical feeling or sensation; insentient.
2. Not sharing in the pleasures or pains of others; callous.
un·feel wounded, and the peace of families wantonly sported with." (22) However, the Monthly Review teases out the reformist power of the expose, declaring, '"Gallants. beware! look sharp! take care!' For, sooner or later, all will out; and then, brothers, uncles, fathers, aye and grandfathers too, will stand exposed, as in these volumes." (23)
In the Memoirs the satiric tradition is blended with a discourse of sentiment that was familiar to readers from reformist narratives of seduction, such as The Histories of Some of the Penitents in the Magdalen-House (1760). (24) The Memoirs draws on satire and sentiment's shared capacity to move between the particular and the general in order to achieve a social reformation. There are difficulties associated with both forms, as Anna Clark argues that satire potentially configures its audience as detached and amused spectators, whereas Vivien Jones suggests "the seduction narrative discovers, and seeks to contain, the prostitute as redeemable victim." (25) However, in the combination of satire and sentiment, Baddeley is neither a distant object nor fully contained as the repentant re·pen·tant
Characterized by or demonstrating repentance; penitent.
Adj. 1. sinner. The strategic interweaving of sexual farce and social commentary collapses textual boundaries, as protagonists, biographer, and reader share a joke at the expense of aristocratic male dignity. Lord Palmerston falls over a camera obscura, a Jewish suitor SUITOR. One who is a party to a suit or action in court. One who is a party to an action. In its ancient sense, suitor meant one Who was bound to attend the county court, also, one who formed part of the secta. (q.v.) falls off the sea bank in Brighton, the Neapolitan Ambassador is locked in a closet for half an hour, and Lord March is covered with the contents of a servant's pail. Similar accidents throughout the Memoirs generate fits of "immoderate im·mod·er·ate
Exceeding normal or appropriate bounds; extreme: immoderate spending; immoderate laughter. See Synonyms at excessive. " (2:51) and "involuntary" (1:60) laughter, while Steele recalls, "our maids laughed as heartily as we did" (3:204). An audience of women is convened around images of deflated male power in a text that resounds with anarchic female laughter.
Steele's satirical observing eye and moralizing tone are consistently balanced by her affection for her subject, evident in her account of a meeting between Baddeley and her fellow actress and courtesan Robinson in 1780. Steele presents the two women in Baddeley's bedroom, engaged in a sentimental exchange of their personal histories: "Mrs. Baddeley gave her a particular account of the situation she was in, and the treatment she had experienced, from those who professed a friendship for her; which. when Mrs. Robinson heard, she cried out. 'Oh, the ingratitude Ingratitude
Anastasie and Delphine
ungrateful daughters do not attend father’s funeral. [Fr. Lit.: Père Goriot]
Glencoe, Massacre of mankind!' And shed a few tears, unperceived by Mrs. Baddeley" (6:176). By 1780, Baddeley had suffered a dramatic change in circumstances and was living in poverty in Pimlico with a manservant man·ser·vant
n. pl. men·ser·vants
A male servant, especially a valet.
pl menservants a male servant, esp. a valet
Noun 1. while struggling to support her family as a singer in an exhibition at Lisle Street. The catalyst for this transformation was Baddeley's abandonment by Lord Melbourne and her socially damaging love affair with the American republican and sheriff of London, Stephen Sayre. In contrast, Robinson was at the height of her fame as courtesan to the Prince of Wales Prince of Wales
switches places with his double, poor boy Tom Canty. [Am. Lit.: The Prince and the Pauper]
See : Doubles , arriving in an "elegant little phaeton" with a gift of ten guineas from the Duke of Cumberland (6:174-5). At first glance, this staged interaction of 1780 measures the distance between Baddeley's past and present and juxtaposes contrasting images of the courtesan on divergent paths toward triumph and disaster. However, by the time of the Memoirs's publication in 1787, Steele's audience would have been familiar with the unhappy outcome of Robinson's romance with the Prince of Wales. The "unperceived" tears therefore imply that Robinson and Baddeley are enmeshed in a shared narrative as fellow victims of man's "deceptions" and "dissipation" (2:165), only fully comprehended by the onlooker Steele.
"SIGNED WITH HER OWN HAND"
Reading Baddeley's intimate meeting with Robinson in 1780 by the light of the gossip columns of 1787 reveals the extent to which this personal portrait of a lost love interacts with events in the public sphere. The text is shaped by a network of commercial transactions, evident in the thinly disguised advert for the novel of John Trusler (Steele's publisher and founder of the Literary Press) that appears in the main body of the narrative. (26) Steele suggests that "a perusal" of Trusler's Modern Times; or, The Adventures of Gabriel Outcast "will be useful to hundreds," noting in the language of the press that the work " has been considerably improved, and enlarged, since it was first published" (4:87, 86). There is also a tension between the Memoirs's claim to provide an authoritative history and its function as an act of extortion. The aristocrats featured (around 140 according to the Morning Herald) represent only those who refused to buy themselves out rather than a full cast of characters. (27) A contemporary readership was alerted to the Memoirs's commercial status by a heated debate over copyright that was played out in the exchange of handbills and puffs and squibs in the newspapers. The contentious second edition appeared in the summer of 1787. Its entrance into circulation was marked by an advertisement in the Morning Herald that suggests the complex negotiations involved in translating Baddeley and Steele's irregular lives into print: "[B]y advice of Counsel, the whole impression, consisting of many thousand volumes, is signed with her own hand. to preclude the possibility of Piracy, which she has too great reason to apprehend, from Dr. John Trusler, who, having appropriated the sums of money, which he received of the Booksellers for the first Edition, to his own use. obliged her to file a bill in chancery for the recovery of her right." (28) Steele's desire to ensure that the life "is signed with her own hand" drew on an established precedent. The courtesan Phillips autographed each copy of An Apology for the Conduct of Mrs. T. C. Phillips (1748) to confirm the text's authenticity and reclaim possession of her character. Catherine Gallagher's work demonstrates the creative possibilities for women writers in the displacements and disappearances enabled by the "exchangeable tokens of modern authorship." (29) However, Steele's insistence on textual ownership also reveals the economic importance of retaining a degree of self-possession in the literary marketplace.
Despite the physical imprint of the hand, Steele's Memoirs complicates the relationship between author and text. It reinforces Paula McDowell's argument that the "traditional 'man-and-his-work' approaches, with their post-Romantic emphasis on individual authors, are not the most useful models for the study of non-elite men's and women's involvement in the print marketplace." (30) Contemporary reviewers and recent critics hint at the existence of textual collaborators (such as an editor or ghostwriter) whose shadowy presence troubles the identification of the Memoirs as a female-authored text. There are claims that Steele may have worked with the hack journalist Alexander Bicknell, who was notorious for his satirical essays and his role as the editor of An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy (1785), (31) However, the more likely candidate is the journalist, Irish revolutionary, and spy William Jackson, identified by Rizzo as Steele's assistant through her analysis of the correspondence of Sayre. (32) Jackson's political commitments provide an illuminating subtext sub·text
1. The implicit meaning or theme of a literary text.
2. The underlying personality of a dramatic character as implied or indicated by a script or text and interpreted by an actor in performance. to the narrative. His editorship of the Morning Post from 1784 to 1786 was colored by his support for William Pitt's government and, during the Westminster election in 1784, he launched satirical attacks on Charles James Fox under the pseudonym of Scrutineer Scru`ti`neer
n. 1. A scrutinizer; specifically, an examiner of votes, as at an election.
Noun 1. scrutineer - someone who examines votes at an election
Britain, Great Britain, U.K. . (33) These political affiliations are reflected in the Memoirs's unflattering portrait of the "mean and pitiful" Fox (6:10). whose "professions" to Baddeley were "neither desireable nor acceptable" (1:88).
Baddeley's relationship to Sayre exposed the women to a radical milieu inconsistent with their former circle. Visitors to their home in Cleveland Row allegedly included the politician John Wilkes and the journalist Henry Bate bate 1
tr.v. bat·ed, bat·ing, bates
1. To lessen the force or intensity of; moderate: "To his dying day he bated his breath a little when he told the story" . who was editor of the Morning Post from 1775 to 1780 and the Morning Herald from 1780 to 1804. (34) In the satirical portrait of Sayre cooking his beefsteaks over the dining room fire, Steele's personal hatred and Jackson's political allegiances appear to coalesce. The Memoirs depicts Sayre's refusal to employ a servant as an expression of his radicalism. However, much to Steele's disgust, he "called and ordered" Baddeley about and "bad her do this and that for him" (6:125). Steele highlights the social consequences and sexual politics of the "Wilkite model of 'manly patriotism,, " to take Kathleen Wilson's phrase, recalling Sayre's abandonment of the pregnant Baddeley in favor of marriage to a wealthy heiress nine years his senior. (35) In her comments on Sayre and his companions, Steele converts her experience into political currency and establishes herself as a spy. She observes that "the conversation of these people ran in invectives against the Royal Family," leading her to conclude that "these men, who call themselves Patriots, have not a grain of real love for their country" (6:91-2). However, at times the political agenda disrupts the consistency of the characterizations. For when the thoroughly apolitical a·po·lit·i·cal
1. Having no interest in or association with politics.
2. Having no political relevance or importance: claimed that the President's upcoming trip was purely apolitical. Baddeley claims that Sayre is "a John Wilkes to his heart, which I love him the better for" (6:49) and Steele identifies herself as a political informer Informer
revealed theft by Mercury; turned to touchstone. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Walsh Classical, 47]
Cenci, Count Francesco
old libertine ravishes his daughter Beatrice. [Br. Lit. to Lord North (5:172), the voice of the ghostwriter seems at its most audible.
"CONCEIVE THE WHOLE AS A FABLE"
The form of the Memoirs shifts radically as a result of Baddeley's relationship with Sayre, as the intimate narrative of dressmaking and masquerading is replaced by a montage of Baddeley's final years, patched together from gossip, correspondence, and occasional visits. Baddeley returned to acting in 1776, performing in theaters in London, Dublin, York, and Edinburgh while battling drug addiction, ill health, and poverty. She died of consumption in July 1786 at the age of forty-one. (36) Steele claimed that she never saw Baddeley after 1780. Yet, according to the autobiography of Tate Wilkinson (manager of the York Theatre), Steele was with Baddeley during her season at York in 1783. Wilkinson remarks of Baddeley, "Her friend and companion, a Mrs. Stell, was with her, who I fancy had always occasion for such sums as that unfortunate woman received." (37) There is a limited postscript to Steele's career from October 1787, when a reward for her arrest for fraud circulated with a satirical portrait in which she is depicted "with a Mole on her left Cheek; her Mouth drawn aside, (apparently by a Paralytic paralytic /par·a·lyt·ic/ (par?ah-lit´ik)
1. affected with or pertaining to paralysis.
2. a person affected with paralysis.
1. Stroke) her Right Eye Blood-shot." (38) According to her obituary, which appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine, Steele died "in the most extreme agonies and distress" and was "buried in Bishopsgate church-yard, in a manner rather better than a common pauper. " (39) The tragic and yet cliched cli·chéd also cliched
Having become stale or commonplace through overuse; hackneyed: "In the States, it might seem a little clichéd; in Paris, it seems fresh and original" conclusion potentially writes Steele back into the narrative she sought to escape. This danger was exemplified by an article in the Morning Post that configured the lives of Baddeley and Steele as morality tales, which "may make a proper and lasting impression on every female breast." (40) However, while these remarks inscribe in·scribe
tr.v. in·scribed, in·scrib·ing, in·scribes
a. To write, print, carve, or engrave (words or letters) on or in a surface.
b. To mark or engrave (a surface) with words or letters. Steele and Baddeley within damaging stereotypes, in the Memoirs they remain the central characters of a drama played, if only temporarily, on their own terms.
In her reflections on her auto/biographical project, Steele asserts the authenticity of her narrative by contrasting "this simple diary of our proceedings" with "a fabulous account of things that have no existence, but in fancy" (2:145). In practice, the Memoirs reveals that fact and fable may not be so easily disentangled. Steele remarks, "[W]hen I considered the many different parts I played in life, and the many more I had to play, I wondered at my own abilities, resolution and spirits; so many scenes have I gone through, and so many adventures have I met with, that in recounting them, I can scarce credit the truth of them myself, and am led sometimes to conceive the whole as a fable" (5:65). Steele claims that the fabulous reality of her life undermines the "credit" of her history (a term that captures the relationship between economic and personal security at the heart of the Memoirs). But conceptualizing her existence in terms of parts, plays, scenes, and fables allows her to "credit" this self-created identity that is produced out of her relationship to Baddeley. Steele confesses her impulse to tell her own story, as she remarks that "I mean, some time or other, to write my own history; which has been full of adventures, though not of amours, and will entertain the public greatly" (3: 182). However, this history remains unwritten. In contrast, in the Memoirs Steele rejects individualized self-expression in favor of coauthorship and attaches her history of adventures to a broader narrative of female friendship and social experience. The image of the cross-dressed Steele, fighting to defend her sex, is therefore a powerful symbol of the Memoirs. For despite the work's dependence on sexual and literary commerce, it remains an imaginative space that makes room for difference and identification and combines heroic individualism with female solidarity.
Just over a decade after the publication of Steele's Memoirs, the actress and courtesan Robinson (who reportedly once shed a tear by Baddeley's bedside) wrote her own self-vindicatory memoir. In contrast to Baddeley, Robinson established a successful literary career and reinvented herself as a member of the radical intelligentsia following her time as a courtesan in the 1780s. In her polemical work A Letter to the Women of England (1799), Robinson drew on her personal experience of social injustice in order to articulate a powerful feminist critique, addressing the vexed issue of female reputation and calling for women to be granted "the first privilege of nature, the power of SELF-DEFENCE." (41) Her analysis includes the story of a woman dueling for her honor in an image that is reminiscent of the adventurous Steele. (42) However, when turning explicitly to the autobiographical form in her Memoirs of the Late Mrs. Robinson, posthumously published by her daughter in 1801, Robinson foregrounds her roles as a woman of feeling, dutiful du·ti·ful
1. Careful to fulfill obligations.
2. Expressing or filled with a sense of obligation.
du mother, and Romantic poet rather than as a feminist polemicist po·lem·i·cist also po·lem·ist
A person skilled or involved in polemics.
a skilled debater in speech or writing. — polemical, adj. or a political radical. (43) As a consequence, her narrative presents a compelling account of a woman writer's personal challenges and invests Robinson with a degree of cultural authority. But it also suggests that women memoirists were developing more covert strategies of self-vindication during this period, consistent with Steele's deployment of the tropes of sensibility and domesticity rather than her forthright attack on sexual and economic exploitation. (44) The significance of Steele's Memoirs is therefore in its fusion of apparently incompatible models of female authorship, as it highlights both the liberating possibilities and commercial benefits for eighteenth-century women writers of combining the literary modes of sentiment and satire.
(1) See Vivien Jones, "Scandalous Femininity: Prostitution and Eighteenth-Century Narrative," in Shifting the Boundaries: Transformation of the Languages of Public and Private in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Dario Castiglione and Lesley Sharpe (Exeter: Univ. of Exeter Press, 1995). pp. 54-70: Michael Mascuch, Origins of the Individualist Self: Autobiography and Self-Identity in England, 1591-1791 (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997); Felicity Nussbaum, "Heteroclites: The Gender of Character in the Scandalous Memoirs." in The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature, ed. Nussbaum and Laura Brown (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of and London: Methuen, 1987), pp. 144-67; Lynda M. Thompson, The "Scandalous Memoirists": Constantia Phillips, Laetitia Pilkington, and the Shame of "Publick Fame" (Manchester and New York: Manchester Univ. Press, 2000); and Janet Todd, Gender, Art, and Death (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993].
(2) Thompson, "Unstable Genre Boundaries," in "Scandalous Memoirists," pp. 147-58.
(3) Clare Brant. "Speaking of Women: Scandal and the Law in the Mid-Eighteenth Century." in Women. Texts, and Histories. 1575-1760. ed. Brant and Diane Purkiss (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 242-70. 266.
(4) For a discussion of the implications of the culture of sensibility for women writers, see Mary Poovey, The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wotlstonecraft. Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1984), pp. 37-8; and G. J. Barker-Benfield, introduction, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992). pp. xvii-xxxiv. xxvii-xxviii.
(5) Patricia Meyer Spacks, Privacy: Concealing the Eighteenth-Century Self (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2003), p. 56.
(7) Janet Todd, "The Attack on Sensibility." in her Sensibility: An Introduction (London: Methuen, 1986). pp. 129-46.
(8) Markman Ellis, The Politics of Sensibility: Race. Gender, and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996). pp. 1-4; Gillian Skinner, Sensibility and Economics in the Novel. 1740-1800: The Price of a Tear (Houndmills UK and London: Macmillan, 1999). pp. 1-14: and Harriet Guest. Small Change: Women. Learning. Patriotism. 1 750-1810 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), pp. 1-20.
(9) For a summary of Sophia Baddeley's acting career, see Philip H. High fill Jr., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors. Actresses. Musicians. Dancers. Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London. 1660-1800. 16 vols. (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1973-93), s.v. "Baddeley, Mrs Robert, Sophia, nee Snow," 1:202-8.
(10) Elizabeth Steele, The Memoirs of Mrs. Sophia Baddeley, Late of Drury Lane Theatre Drury Lane Theatre
Oldest English theatre still in use. It was built in London by Thomas Killigrew for his acting company as the Theatre Royal (1663). It burned in 1672 and was rebuilt in 1674 with Christopher Wren as architect. , 6 vols. (London: Literary Press, 1787), 1:2. All references will be to this edition and will appear parenthetically par·en·thet·i·cal
adj. also par·en·thet·ic
1. Set off within or as if within parentheses; qualifying or explanatory: a parenthetical remark.
2. Using or containing parentheses. in the text. In this and other sources, original spelling has been retained, but the long s has been silently modernized.
(11) Stella Tillyard comments on this elite subculture in "'Paths of Glory': Fame and the Public in Eighteenth-Century London." in Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity, ed. Martin Postle, exhibition catalog (London: Tate Publishing, 2005), pp. 61-8, 64.
(12) Cindy McCreery, "Keeping up with the Bon Ton: The Tete-a-Tete Series in the Town and Country Magazine," in Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations, and Responsibilities, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (London: Longman, 1997), pp, 207-29. 208-9. 228.
(13) Characters of the Present Most Celebrated Courtezans (London: M. James, 1780), p, 42.
(14) John Williams, The Children of Thespis (Part the Second] (Dublin: T. McDonnell. 1787). p. 19: A Chief Mourner. "To the Printer of the Town and Country Magazine," in Town and Country Magazine: or. Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction, and Entertainment, May 1776, p. 237.
(15) Caroline Gonda, "Misses, Murderesses, and Magdalens: Women in the Public Eye." in Women. Writing, and the Public Sphere, 1700-1830. ed. Elizabeth Eger. Charlotte Grant. Cliona O Gallchoir. and Penny Warburton (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. 2001). pp. 53-71. 66.
(16) Betty Rizzo, Companions without Vows: Relationships among Eighteenth-Century British Women (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1994), pp. 217, 216.
(17) Cora Kaplan, Sea Changes: Essays on Culture and Feminism (London: Verso ver·so
n. pl. ver·sos
1. A left-hand page of a book or the reverse side of a leaf, as opposed to the recto.
2. The back of a coin or medal. , 1986), p. 120.
(18) Kristina Straub, Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992), pp. 21-2.
(19) Thompson, p. 14.
(20) Brant, p. 256.
(21) Spacks, p. 164.
(22) Unsigned review of Steele, Memoirs, Critical Review 63 (June 1787): 479-80, 480.
(23) Unsigned review of Steele, Memoirs, Monthly Review 77 (July 1787): 83-4, 83.
(24) Ellis, pp. 177-85.
(25) Anna Clark, Scandal: The Sexual Politics of the British Constitution (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2004), p. 219; Jones, p. 55.
(26) The Literary Press was the printing house of the Literary Society, established in 1765 by John Trusler in order to promote literary merit. The committee of the society assessed the manuscripts that were submitted by aspiring authors and, if approved, works were published at the risk and expense of the society. The writer received any profits once the costs of publication had been recovered (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published from 1885. The updated Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB , s.v. "Trusler, John," http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27777 [accessed 3 March 2008]).
(27) Advertisement, Morning Herald, 26 May 1787, p. 1.
(28) Advertisement, Morning Herald, 27 July 1787, p. 1.
(29) Catherine Gallagher, introduction, Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts ofWomen Writers in the Marketplace, 1670-1820 (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1995), pp. xiii-xxiv, xiii.
(30) Paula McDowell, The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 12.
(31) Contemporary reviews of the Memoirs suggest that An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy strongly influenced the Memoirs (Unsigned review, Critical Review, p. 479; Unsigned review, Monthly Review, p. 83). John Fyvie and Steven Meyers suggest that Alexander Bicknell may have collaborated with Steele. However, Donald A. Stauffer and Katie Hickman doubt these claims. See Fyvie, Comedy Queens of the Georgian Era (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1907), pp. 233-4; Meyers, A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers, 1660-1800, ed, Todd (Totowa NJ: Rowman and Allanheld, 1985), s.v. "Steele, Elizabeth [Hughes]," pp. 296-7, 297; Stauffer, The Art of Biography in Eighteenth Century England (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1941), pp. 47-8; and Hickman, Courtesans (London: Harper Perennial, 2003), pp. 56-7.
(32) Rizzo, pp. 363-4nl.
(33) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. "Jackson, William [pseud. Scrutineer]," http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14556?docPos=2 (accessed 19 March 2008).
(34) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. "Dudley, Sir Henry Bate," http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/8152 (accessed 3 March 2008).
(35) Kathleen Wilson, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture, and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995), pp. 219-20.
(36) Obituary notices give Baddeley's age as thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and forty-two (Highfill, Burnim, and Langhans, 1:207).
(37) Tate Wilkinson, The Wandering Patentee PATENTEE. He to whom a patent has been granted. The term is usually applied to one who has obtained letters-patent for a new invention.
2. His rights are, 1. : or, A History of The Yorkshire Theatres, from 1770 to the Present Time: Interspersed with Anecdotes Respecting Most of the Performers in the Three Kingdoms, from 1765-1795, 4 vols. (York: Wilson, Spence, and Mawman, 1795), 2:152.
(38) The source is a handbill or newspaper extract from 19 October 1787, preserved in Daniel Lysons, Collectanea col·lec·ta·ne·a
A selection of passages from one or more authors; an anthology.
[Latin collct ; A Collection of Advertisements and Paragraphs from the Newspapers, Relating to Various Subjects, 2 vols. (Strawberry-Hill: Thomas Kirgate, 1660-1825), 2:1, fol. 76v. The volume consulted is available in the British Library.
(39) Steele's obituary appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine, November 1787, p. 1033.
(40) Morning Post, 17 November 1787. While editions of the Morning Post for November 1787 do not exist in the Burney Collection in the British Library, this article has been preserved in Lysons, 2:1, fol. 77r.
(41) Mary Robinson, Letter to the Women of England on the Injustice of Mental Subordination, Revolution and Romanticism, 1789-1834 (Washington DC: Woodstock Books, 1998), p. 73.
(42) Robinson, pp. 20-5.
(43) See Linda H. Peterson, "Becoming an Author: Mary Robinson's Memoirs and the Origins of the Woman Artist's Autobiography," in Re-Visioning Romanticism: British Women Writers, 1776-1837, ed. Carol Shiner Wilson and Joel Haefner (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), pp. 36-50; Thompson, p. 171.
(44) For discussions of Victorian women's autobiography. see Peterson, Traditions of Victorian Women's Autobiography: The Poetics and Politics of Life Writing, Victorian Literature and Culture Studies (Charlottesville and London: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1999); and Mary Jean Corbett, Representing Femininity: Middle-Class Subjectivity in Victorian and Edwardian Women's Autobiographies (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992).
Amy Culley is lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln
The University of Lincoln . She is editing volumes 1-4 of Women's Court and Society Memoirs, forthcoming with Pickering and Chatto in 2009.