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Genre labels on the title pages of English fiction, 1660-1800.

WHAT DID WRITERS AND PRINTERS of fiction in the eighteenth century call their work? At what point does the terra "novel" become the dominant name for long works of prose fiction? Arundell Esdaile wrote in 1912 that romance "expresses the desire to escape from real life," while the novel "represents an acceptance of real life," defining the novel according to verisimilitude. (1) Many modern scholars, including Ian Watt, John J. Richetti, and Ioan Williams have largely agreed with Esdaile's definition or employed it with modifications. (2) Esdaile, however, approached the texts from an early twentieth-century standpoint, with little consideration of the use of genre terminology in the eighteenth century. Even such scholars as Michael McKeon and Joseph F. Bartolomeo, who have analyzed genre terms used at the rime, have largely focused on a selection of works of fiction written by canonical authors. (3) McKeon, J. Paul Hunter, and William B. Warner all criticize the "rise of the novel" paradigm partly because of its use of a nineteenth-century definition of "novel" applied retrospectively onto the eighteenth century--but the point at which this shift in nomenclature takes place, and the frequency of when "novel" is used to refer to fiction in the eighteenth century, has not been explored in detail. (4)

My aim here, then, is to quantify and analyze the genre labels used on title pages of fiction in the eighteenth century. Using the bibliographies of early fiction compiled by Charles C. Mish, William Harlin McBurney, Jerry C. Beasley, James Raven, and Peter Garside et al. to establish a broadly defined fiction canon, I have examined the title pages of nearly three thousand new works of fiction printed in the period 1660-1800, including abridgments and new translations of foreign fiction." This systematic investigation demonstrates that the term "novel" did not become significantly more popular on title pages than other labels until the mid 1780s--much later than many critics have assumed. Moreover, the terms used--and, to a certain extent, the types of fiction they denote--appear to depend far more on changing vogues than on the authors' individual artistic decisions. We cannot tell whether the wording of the title page was the choice of the author or the bookseller, but the genre terms indicate a closer connection between authors and market interests than has been assumed. Since title pages were used to advertise works for sale, the use of genre labels to connect to current fashions indicates that booksellers (and perhaps authors) were attempting to be savvy about the desires of potential readers for the fiction they were selling, and that the demands of purchasers strongly influenced the types of fiction being written and the way they were presented.


What genre labels were used on fiction in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries? What patterns across time, if any, can be found in title page nomenclature? Robert Adams Day bemoans, with good reason, the fact that "Titles give little help: 'history,' 'romance,' 'true relation,' 'memoirs,' 'novel' may mean almost anything." (6) Writers and publishers in the eighteenth century do not seem to have been nearly as concerned about distinctions between different genres as are modern critics. None of the critics discussing genre terms in this period has done a comprehensive survey of the use of the various labels on eighteenth-century title pages. Franco Moretti has conducted a statistical analysis of the lengths of titles and certain key words or parts of speech ("secrets" or indefinite articles, for example), and has found interesting correlations between the use of certain words and the rising popularity of the Gothic mode. (7) He does not focus on title-page genre labels, categorizing all the works in the McBurney, Beasley, Raven, and Garside bibliographies as "novels." Moretti has also undertaken quantitative analyses of the number of new "novels" per year and different categories of "novel" (such as the "courtship novel" or the "anti-Jacobin novel"). (8) Garside looks more closely at title-page nomenclature and provides percentages of titles using different labels in the second volume of his bibliography (covering the years 1800-29), demonstrating the Gothic influence through the use of the terms "romance" and "tales" in the early nineteenth century. (9) The following analysis will extend such statistical analyses backwards to 1660, and attempt to bring greater clarity to the discussion of genre labels in the eighteenth century.

My method for conducting this study was to begin with the standard bibliographies of fiction for the period 1660-1800, compiled by Mish (for the years from 1660 to 1699), McBurney (1700-39), Beasley (1740-49), Raven (1750-69), and Garside et al. (1770-99). I have followed the policy of the Garside bibliography in including only new works of fiction, defined as first editions of original texts, first editions of new translations, and new parts or sequeis to older texts if published in separate years. (10) I am not trying to supplement or edit the original bibliographies, and have simply accepted the lists of Mish, McBurney, Beasley, Raven, and Garside without qualification. They differ somewhat in how they distinguish fictional works from factual works, but in general their policies largely coincide. Mish, McBurney, and Beasley were working prior to electronic databases, and so their checklists are less than comprehensive and are somewhat inaccurate. However, in lieu of a more recent alternative they remain standard. Mish's bibliography, which is based on the work of Esdaile, has many inconsistencies, and includes some religious tracts, behavior guides, and chapbooks of a sort omitted from the later bibliographies. (11) For this reason, what appears to be a sharp drop in the production of new fiction between 1690 and 1710 is really a reflection of differing editorial policies of the bibliographers. McBurney states that his policy is that "all of the works listed are written in prose. All are, I believe, fictitious--that is, they deal with characters and events which are largely or wholly imaginary, consciously invented by the authors." Beasley similarly tries to include all "novels" omitting "brief chap books, character sketches, jest books, and dialogues." Raven's policy in his 1750-70 volume is comparable, in that he includes "all works advertised as 'novels'" and "works adopting a form recognizable as that of a novel, irrespective of the title-page description" while omitting "jest books, chapbooks, children's books, and serialized and magazine fiction. (12) The Garside bibliography additionally uses periodical reviews to determine which works were considered fiction by contemporaries; as reviews were largely irrelevant to the earlier bibliographies (especially pre-1749) I have not tried to supplement Mish, McBurney, or Beasley with similar information.

Working from the lists in these bibliographies, I examined the title pages of these texts on Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO). For texts not available on EEBO or ECCO (approximately 10 percent of those surveyed here), I relied on the title as given in the bibliographies. The number of rimes each genre term appears on a title page, and the total number of new fiction titles published each decade, are listed in Table 1 below. Table 1 also lists the percentage that each term comprises of the total titles published in each decade. I have counted each work once under the total for each year, but works that have more than one genre designation are included in the count for every term. For example, Village Memoirs: In a Series of Letters between a Clergyman and His Family in the Country, and His Son in Town (1775) is counted as a single work for that year, but would indicate one instance of the term "memoirs" and one of "letters" (13) Works that combined terms in their titles are also counted separately: The True Secret History of the Lives and Reigns of All the Kings and Queens of England (1725) counts once for "true history" and once as "secret history," even though the term "history" is not repeated in the title. (14) If additional genre terms appear in titles of works within a work but not in the main title, they are only listed if they also appeared on the title page. For example, A Select Collection of Novels in Six Volumes (1722) would count once for "novels" but not for terms such as "letters" which appear on interior title pages for the individual novels included in the collection. (15) A work such as Rosalinda, A Novel. Containing the Histories of Rosalinda and Lealdus, Dorisba and Leander, Emilia and Edward, Adelais, Daughter of Otho II. And Alerames, Duke of Saxony. With a most remarkable Story of Edmund, the Gallant Earl of Salibury (1733) would count once for "novel." once for "history" and once for "story" even though "history" and "story" are clearly used to give more detail about the contents of the "novel." (16) I have not distinguished between singular and plural uses of these labels. For a list of the terms included in the category "Other" and their frequency of use, see Table 2.

Perhaps the most immediately striking fact evident from the data is that the term "novel" does not become more common than the other labels until the 1780s, though it had brief periods of relative popularity in the periods 1670-99 and 1710-29. In the 1680s, 30 percent of the fiction published (forty-nine out of 164 titles) included the designation "novel" on the title page. In the 1750s, only 7 percent of the works published (twenty out of 299 titles) are labeled "novels" Most likely this is because of the shift in the definition of the term, pointed out by Edith Kern and others, from a short story derived from French nouvelles and Spanish novellas to a longer form more distinct to English literature. (17) The Oxford English Dictionary lists examples of both meanings of the terra from this period, and Samuel Johnson's Dictionary defines "novel" as "a small tale, generally of love." (18) "Novel" remains at 30 percent or below until the 1780s, when it increases in popularity and accounts for first 37 percent and then, in the 1790s, a high of 40 percent of all fiction published. This calls into question generalizations such as McKeon's statement that "By the middle of the eighteenth century, the stabilizing of terminology--the increasing acceptance of 'the novel' as a canonic term, so that contemporaries can 'speak of it as such'--signals the stability of the conceptual category and of the class of literary products that it encloses." (19) Only 7 percent of the fiction in the middle of the century was labeled as a "novel," hardly indicating a "stabilizing of terminology" or an increasing use of the term at that time. These statistics also provide quantitative data both to support and to nuance claims such as Hunter's that "At midcentury, the new form--innovative, rebellious, surprising, and full of novelty but not yet named 'the novel'--was still searching for a clear identity, terminology, and definition; it took almost another half century for a name and a lasting description to stick." (20) Hunter is accurate in saying that in the middle of the eighteenth century fictions are called anything but novels, and that only in the 1780s does the term become widespread on title pages. These statistics similarly support Williams's comment that the "novel ... became the dominant literary form throughout Europe" only in the nineteenth century. (21) The idea that "novel" became the prevailing term starting around 1740 is a myth.

Besides "novel," the term most frequently discussed by critics is "romance," which is often defined as being the opposite of the "novel" in terms of realism and the individualization of characters. This label is used on a relatively high proportion of titles in the 1660s, 26 percent (fourteen out of fifty-three), and then nearly disappears from the title pages of new texts, appearing on only thirty-eight works of fiction over the next 120 years. The small percentage of fictions that have "romance" on the title page is especially surprising because the term is often used in eighteenth-century discussions of genre in prefaces. Writers of fiction were evidently aware of "romance" as a category that they considered opposite "novel," but for most of the century they were not writing new works that they labeled as such. In the 1790s, however, "romance" becomes relatively more popular, appearing on fifty-three title pages (8 percent of the total). As Garside notes, it continues to gain popularity, appearing on 18.3 percent of title pages in 1800-9, before dropping to 13 percent of title pages in 1810-19 and 9 percent of title pages in 1820-29. (22) Clearly "romance" does not suffer "demise" around 1685, as Lennard J. Davis claimed; neither can we say that "the terms 'novel' and 'romance' ran side by side throughout the eighteenth century in England and they were only separated out towards the century's end," as Williams argues. (23) The reason for this resurgence in popularity, as Garside and Moretti have both pointed out, is the use of the term on Gothic fiction beginning in the 1790s. (24) Although the "Gothic" romance is a different mode of writing than the "heroic" romance of the mid-seventeenth century, writers of Gothic apparently wanted to recall the earlier mode of writing to their readers. Horace Walpole says as much in the preface to the second edition of The Castle of Otranto (1765), explaining that his story "was an attempt to blend the two kinds of Romance, the ancient and the modern.'' (25) These later fictions employ some of the conventions identified by Reeve and others as indicative of the "heroic" romance. (26) Unlike "novel" which changes definition pretty drastically between the late seventeenth century and the late eighteenth, "romance" ends up being applied to a different mode of writing but is used to indicate similar generic elements.

If fictions are not labeled "novels" or "romances" what terms are used? By far the most common label is "history," which remains more consistently popular than the other terms used in the eighteenth century. Except in the first decade of the eighteenth century, "history" appears on approximately 20 percent of the fiction title pages throughout this period, rising to around 30 percent in 1750-79 before dropping to just 7 percent in the 1790s. Karen O'Brien argues that the use of "history" on title pages of fiction indicates the fictional works "clearly had thematic and cognitive preoccupations in common with history proper," but "that novelists' often highly ironized statements of factual accuracy should not be overread as a general indication of the epistemological adventurousness of eighteenth-century culture." (27) The high percentage of fictions called "history" indicates that eighteenth-century readers do not appear to have had the same expectations of factual information from a work with this label that we do, and they likely recognized the terra as potentially referring to an imaginative story. Similarly, the term "memoirs" is also popular in the middle of this period, appearing on 9 to 20 percent of title pages each decade from 1700 to 1789. It is rarely used for fiction in the seventeenth century and declines in popularity in the 1790s, perhaps because of the increasing use of terms like "novel" and "romance" that relate specifically to fiction. "Account," also used for true narratives, appears on as much as 16 percent of fiction title pages in the 1740s.

Another label with a possible factual connotation is "letters," which went through periods of both vogue and disfavor. Day states that for the period 1660-1740 "We may very roughly estimate that a thousand works of fiction, new or revived, appeared in something like forty-five hundred editions or issues ... Of these, over two hundred works in five hundred editions or issues were letter fiction." (28) While this may be true for the form of the texts, very few fictional texts in the late seventeenth century advertise themselves as being composed of letters: just eighteen new works of fiction in forty years from 1660 to 1700 have the term on the title page. The label is more popular in the first decade of the eighteenth century, then falls in usage to remain at approximately 10 percent until the 1770s. It then has a brief period of popularity, appearing on about 20 percent of the titles of new fiction, before dropping back down to just 5 percent in the 1790s. In comparison with the number of epistolary novels after 1770 as counted by Raven, this number shows that only 42 percent of the epistolary fiction in the last thirty years of the century actually had "letters" or "epistles" on the title page, or 182 works out of 435. (29) If the term "letters" was an attraction to a potential reader, more than half of the publishers of these works failed to capitalize on it. Unlike other labels, such as "novel" or "memoirs," "letters" seems to have had a definite meaning in the eighteenth century: a work of fiction in "letters" was always epistolary. A reader could expect, based on the title pages, that the texts inside had a certain form, which had particular requirements: often (but not always) multiple narrators writing the letters, first-person limited points of view, a discernible fictional audience distinct from the actual reader, and sometimes a consciousness of the letters as physical objects within the context of the story.

While the term "story" is used at a consistently low rate, on 2 to 5 percent of titles after 1700, the similar term "tale" seems much more susceptible to changes in fashion. After being seldom used, appearing on fewer than 7 percent of the works of fiction per decade for most of the century, it suddenly becomes much more popular in the 1780s. What might be the reason for this? Like "romance" "tale" became associated with the Gothic, and so increases accordingly in its usage in titles such as J. Fox's Tancred, A Tale of Ancient Times (1791). (30) In many cases, "tale" seems to indicate a work that at least pretends to be translated from a Middle Eastern narrative. This occurs more often after the translations of The Persian and the Turkish Tales (1714). (31) Even more popular was Antoine Galland's version of Arabian Nights Entertainments, first translated into English in 1706, but this work had the label "stories" on the title page and does not seem to have influenced the usage of that term. (32) Many of the texts calling themselves "tales" in the later part of the eighteenth century are imitating the style of these works, such as Samuel Johnson's The Prince of Abissinia, A Tale (1759) or the anonymous Rajah Kisna: An Indian Tale (1786). (33) Of course, many "tales" have nothing to do with foreign lands, particularly in the early eighteenth century--Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub (1704) perhaps being the most notable--but the fashion for "tales" of the Arabian Nights variety is definitely apparent from the use of the term on title pages.

Two genre terms unique to fiction of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are "secret history" and "true history" These designations are not found in earlier or later fiction, and critics have used them to describe particular kinds of fictional writing. These two terms indicate a type of fiction that supposedly has some factual basis, but the reliability of the "secret" or "truth," as Rebecca Bullard points out, is often highly questionable. (34) Some critics take the claims to truth at face value. McKeon, for example, claims that "it is only in the early modern period that the category [of romance] attains the status of a simple abstraction, in definitive opposition to the notion of 'true history.'" (35) Here, McKeon is apparently using "true history" to describe a type of fictional writing based on factual or "realistic" experiences of ordinary people, opposing the idealistic conventions of the romance tradition. Yet the term "true history" is very rarely used on title pages of eighteenth-century fiction: only thirty-two works in the entire 140-year period call themselves "true histories." Similarly, the popularity of "secret history" has been exaggerated by critics focusing on a few famous texts. (36) In fact, while it has a brief vogue in the 1720s, appearing on 13 percent of texts (eighteen out of 137), it is rarely used afterwards.

The genre terms here designated as part of the "Other" category, listed in Table 2, also demonstrate response to changing trends. A few unusual genre labels, such as "annals," "preachment," "meditations" and "burlesque" appear only once on fiction title pages in 140 years. Several others, such as "allegory," "description" and "work" appear sporadically without any discernible patterns. "Fables" appear on the most title pages (though only appearing three times on new works) in the 1690s, probably because of the increased interest in translations of Aesop. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, the term "anecdotes" is used more often than "account" appearing forty-nine times from 1760 to 1799. However, these terms still represent a very small proportion of the total titles produced, and are far from popular overall.

A significant percentage of the texts throughout this period have no genre term at all on the title pages. Many of these simply have a character's name as the title, such as Lucretia: or, Virtue the Best Dowry (1790). (37) Others have a title that sounds as if it describes a factual account, as with Jonathan Swift's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships (1726). (38) Throughout the whole period, 13 to 30 percent of the title pages of fiction in each decade have no indication of genre. Without a genre term on the title page, how would readers know a book was a work of fiction? They might have no idea, but we might hypothesize that the lack of a label on so many works indicates that many readers were unconcerned whether a book was fictional, factual, or some combination. If the book fulfilled a moral purpose, or conveyed some kind of point, its factual basis may not have mattered to many readers. (39)

The figures in Table 1 show that while certain terms, like "history" remained consistently in use, most genre labels went through periods of vogue and disfavor. Writers and publishers do not seem to have had clear definitions of these terms, bur used them to attract the attention of a potential reader and to link certain works to others in popular trends (such as the "secret histories" of the 1720s or the Gothic "romances"). However, this seemingly cavalier attitude towards distinctions of genre does not indicate that the terms used at the time are inconsequential. These statistics clarify arguments such as Hunter's that "the term 'novel' is ultimately the right one for the form of prose fiction that emerged as dominant in the eighteenth century in England, but its rightness was not immediately recognized." (40) In other words, the wide variety of labels used to identify works we might call "novels" indicates that we cannot rely on the use of "novel" as a marker of the type of fiction that the label came to identify in the nineteenth century. The evidence I have found suggests that writers had the term "novel" ready at hand, but did not apply it universally to long works of prose fiction. Instead, they seem to have been making choices about labels based on what readers would want--that is, the changing trends in fiction--rather than the artistic nature of writers responding to their predecessors. The evidence from this chronological analysis of the usage of genre terms on title pages supports some well-known views--for example, that "romance" was unpopular as a descriptor for most of the century. Some critical assumptions, however, conflict with the data. "Novel" did not become the dominant term for long works of prose fiction until the very end of the eighteenth century, and the labels used earlier are not specific to fiction.

How ought this quantitative data to change current critical views about eighteenth-century conceptions of "novels"? Modern critics have mostly overlooked the issue of genre labels on title pages, instead turning to discussions of genre in prefaces and essays from the eighteenth century to gain contemporary insight. From the evidence surveyed above, two conclusions can be drawn: (1) since individual genre terms went through periods of relative popularity and disuse, eighteenth-century writers and booksellers did seem to distinguish between genre labels, and employed them deliberately rather than carelessly; and (2) terms that indicate factual work to a modern reader (history, memoirs, etc.) were used so frequently on fiction title pages that eighteenth-century readers would probably have recognized these labels as potentially referring to a fictional text, even if they could not tell whether a particular work was factor fiction.

Analyses of prefatory material and contemporary critical views on genre can supplement title-page information to show us different ways in which certain eighteenth-century literary critics viewed fiction. (41) Four arguments from the period about fiction genres, and specifically the differences between novels and romances, are cited repeatedly in criticism: the preface to William Congreve's Incognita (1691); the preface to The Secret History of Queen Zarah, and the Zarazians (1705); Johnson's Rambler Number 4 (31 March 1750); and Clara Reeve's The Progress of Romance (1785). (42) These texts are used to support several common assumptions underlying modern critical arguments about genre at the time: that novels were different from romances because they were more realistic; that romances were no longer popular by the early to mid-eighteenth century; and that novels were chiefly read by the common people, especially women and servants. Modern scholars, ranging from Ros Ballaster and McKeon to William St Clair have demonstrated that the association between novels (specifically "romantic" fiction) and women readers has been exaggerated. (43) "Romance" and "novel" do seem to have designated different types of fiction in many cases, and Kern has made a convincing argument in favor of their having separate origins. (44) Certainly, the variety of comments collected in Ioan Williams's anthology Novel and Romance 1700-1800: A Documentary Record indicates that this gente difference was important to the writers at the time. (45) The primary factor distinguishing "novel" from "romance" seems to be time period: "romance" is applied mainly to earlier works. The few new works in the eighteenth century that carry the label "romance," like Jane Barker's Exilius (1715), are pointedly trying to establish a connection with seventeenth-century fictions.

The discussions of genre that show us most clearly how eighteenth-century writers conceptualized and valued truth and verisimilitude are those that maintain a fiction is probable if not absolutely true. For example, Gabriel Daniel explains that he "had to preserve the strict Law of probability in my History" and that "I mean to set off my History with an Air of Truth, such as may be able to persuade the most Incredulous, did they lay by Prejudice in the reading of it, that what I say is most undoubtedly true" (46) Daniel clearly expects that his reader would have a higher regard for a factual tale than a work of fiction, and that the way to convince the reader of his truth is to make it sound plausible. Penelope Aubin expresses a similar sentiment and compares her work to another famous fiction when she writes that "As for the Truth of what this Narrative contains, since Robinson Cruso [sic] has been so well receiv'd, which is more improbable, I know no reason why this should be thought a Fiction." (47) Writers of prefaces definitely seem to value fact over fiction, and try to make the fictional works seem more worth reading by emphasizing that they are plausible enough that they could be factual. The author of the preface to The Lady--Travels into Spain takes this even further with the comment that "it is not sufficient to write things true, but they must likewise seem probable, to gain belief." (48) This writer at least values plausibility much more than actual truth, and is more concerned about what a reader will believe, not what an author can verify.

Alongside declarations of plausibility, many prefaces disparage novels, romances, stories, or other genres as being untrue. The preface of Polish Manuscripts mentions other histories of the same characters and explains that "We shall quickly see by reading of them, how little Credit is to be given to his Romance." (49) Similarly, Mary Daws writes that she tries in The Fugitive "to divert the Town with real Events, just as they happen'd, without running into Romance." (50) These statements show that by the beginning of the eighteenth century at least some readers were apparently looking for something other than "romances," and were interested in works that pretended to be true. The terminology used, however, can make determining the type of fiction meant very difficult. Francis Le Guat, for example, writes that "Wretched Romances, and ill contriv'd Fables, find a Vent; why may not my true Romance have as favourable a fare." (51) This statement is in the context of a paragraph describing how his travels are more genuine than many other tales of voyages, but the difference between "Wretched Romances" and "true Romance" is not immediately clear. Writers of prefaces often sneer at romance, but do not employ a consistent alternative.

The reader might assume that modern critics ignore the genre labels on title pages because the use of different terms does not matter much to the validity of a critical argument. Both William Ray and Leah Price use the term "novel" for all the texts they cover without any stated definition. (52) Richetti's The English Novel in History uses the terms "novel" "fiction" and "narrative" to refer to the same texts, but distinguishes these from "amatory fiction" and "love novella," for example. He uses the terms "pseudo-autobiographies" "fictions," "narratives," "case histories" and "novels" interchangeably to refer to the same group of texts. (53) In these cases, where critics are not talking specifically about the genre as such, the nomenclature seems to be of little importance. Yet such terms define the limits of the critical studies. Modern critical studies of the novel cannot accommodate works such as Thomas Browne's Letters from the Dead to the Living, or David Russen's Iter Lunare, or The Nine Pious Pilgrims. (54) would suggest that one reason they are omitted is that they do not fit the definition of "novel" guiding the selection of texts. Since works such as Clarissa or Tom ]ones are labeled histories, not novels, modern critics are choosing which texts they will privilege based on some criterion other than title-page nomenclature.

The problem facing all these critics is that the modern idea of "novel" or even "fiction" did not really exist in the eighteenth century. Many critics acknowledge that there are problems with using the term "novel" anachronistically, but nevertheless deploy it to include works they wish to discuss and to exclude others. Warner, for example, is admirably straightforward in his statement that "I have used the term novel in an inclusive fashion to designate both the books early modern readers term novels and the elevated novels of Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding, which eschewed that label, but which tradition has considered formative instances of the novel as a literary type" As he goes on to explain, "this catholic usage refuses to allow the term 'novel' to have the gatekeeping function it usually has in literary studies, whereby it has filtered out noncanonical novels" Warner makes an excellent point about the limiting tendencies of traditional uses of the term "novel" but why then is Behn "pre-novelistic" and why exclude Bunyan or Keach? (55) Warner, like his predecessors, evidently works from a particular definition of "novel," mostly relying on the canon established ex post facto by literary historians. In the absence of solid definitions, critics employ their own, either explicitly or silently. If we are to take seriously the idea that contemporary writers used different terras even when they had the label "novel" available, as I am proposing here, then we will get a very different view of ideas about fiction in this period.

One significant point that needs to be made is that we cannot always tell which works were likely to have been understood as fictional by eighteenth-century readers. During the period 1660-1800, fully 32 percent of the works of fiction had the labels "history," "memoirs," or "true history" on their title pages. How can a reader know what is fact and what is fiction? Sometimes, the term is combined with another label that more clearly indicates a work of fiction, as is the case with The Rival Mother; A Late True History Digested into a Novel (1692) and The False Step: or, The History of Mrs. Brudenel, A Novel (1771). (56) In some cases, an adjective is added that seems to indicate that the work is fictional, as is done in The Irish Rogue: or, The Comical History of the Life and Actions of Teague O'Divelley (1690) and The Amorous History of the Gauls (1725). (57) Other rimes, the title might have already been known from the ballad tradition or from romance, as happens with The Famous and Renowned History of the Memorable bur Unhappy Hunting on Chevy-Chase (1690) and A Pleasant and Comical History of the Life of Scaramouche (1696). (58) Sometimes a writer would add an additional comment to the title to connect it to another work, as Henry Fielding does with The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, and His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, Written in Imitation of the Manner of Cervantes (1742). (59) Title pages contain a wide variety of clues that a "history" may be less true than the term would imply to a modern reader.

Complicating the problem of distinguishing fact from fiction is the high proportion of works that were anonymous. Surveying the use of names on title pages reveals that approximately 50 percent of the fiction in the period 1660-1750 lists no author on the title page, and a further 20 percent has another tagline or pseudonym (and so is functionally anonymous). This corresponds with Raven's finding that "over 80 percent of all new novel titles published between 1750 and 1790 were published anonymously." (60) With so many anonymous works, eighteenth-century readers could not rely on the identification of known writers to determine whether a work claiming to be true was indeed factual. The use of character names as pseudonyms--as with Robinson Crusoe, which is "Written by Himself"--serves to add to the genre confusion along with potentially factual genre labels and prefatory claims to truth. Title pages alone are insufficient to determine whether we can trust the content of the work.

There are other sources where a modern scholar can turn to determine whether eighteenth-century readers would have recognized a particular work as fiction or fact, but they are often of no more help than title pages. A brief survey of fiction terms in sources besides title pages can extend and bolster Raven's observation that "By the late eighteenth century, British reviewers and advertising booksellers accepted and promoted the novel as a distinct literary category, even though it encompassed a great many narrative forms." (61) In the early eighteenth century, prefaces and advertisements do sometimes separate fiction from other types of books, but not always--and in the absence of established terminology, such distinctions are often difficult to identify. Advertisements in the backs of books generally list the titles of books for sale, so the only fiction genre terms used are those that are part of the original title of the book. Only in a few cases does the writer of the ad insert genre labels, and these are often vague: the ad at the back of The Unfortunate Court-Favourites of England (1695), for example, divides the thirty-one books listed into "History," "Miscellanies," and "Divinity." The fiction is categorized as "History" with no differentiation made between fictional works such as The History of the Nine Worthies of the World and factual texts like The Wars in England, Scotland, and Ireland. (62) From this we can conclude that either there was not much concern about the truth of these "histories,' or that a reader might be presumed to detect that a work was fictional from the nature of the titles. This ad does not make clear whether the bookseller was trying to pass off the fictional works as true or not.

Newspaper advertisements, like notices in the backs of books, usually only indicate the genre of a work being sold if it is part of the title. For example, Mary Pix's The Inhumane Cardinal: or, Innocence Betray'd, A Novel appears in full with the term "novel" in an advertisement in the London Gazette. (63) The exact meaning of the genre label on an individual title is as difficult to determine in an ad as it is on the title page, bur sometimes advertisements list multiple genre terms to distinguish different types of books. This is seen most clearly in advertisements for special sales or the catalogues associated with auctions, which frequently try to indicate the variety of books for sale. A representative example of this is an ad in the Daily Courant for "Bibliotheca Curiosa: Being a Catalogue of very Curious and Uncommon Books, in several Faculties and Languages, viz. Divinity, History, Antiquity, Husbandry, Trade, Gardening, Voyages, Travels, Physick, Surgery, Architecture, Lives, Poetry, Plays, Romances, Novels, Law, Memoirs, Mathematicks, Chronicles." (64) No specific titles are given, so we can only guess at what exactly might be meant by any one of these labels. The range of criteria for determining categories indicates that early eighteenth-century readers would have conceived of "faculties" differently from what we understand as "genre": this particular example lists types based on form ("Poetry" and "Plays"), content ("Divinity," "Husbandry," and "Mathematicks"), and the narrative conventions ("Voyages," "Travels," and "Memoirs"). These categories are not mutually exclusive, particularly those referring to potentially fictional forms--what is the difference between "Lives" and "Memoirs"?--and some of them, like "Chronicles" could mean almost anything. Writers of this type of advertisement seem to be intentionally trying to indicate the broad range of texts available, and the ad frustrates attempts to determine what is meant by the labels.

Book catalogues, like newspaper ads, can be helpful in determining how booksellers understood genre distinctions. The Terra Catalogues demonstrate that booksellers in the early eighteenth century did not usually distinguish between fact and fiction, but did categorize works according to subject matter and type. (65) Works of fiction might be found categorized under "Divinity" "History," "Miscellanies," or "Reprinted" Poems and plays are listed separately, as are books in Latin, music books, and books relating to professions such as law or medicine. The Terra Catalogues print the main title of a book in many cases, so some genre labels are included in the titles of the works, as with The Fables of Pilpay or The Famous History of Billy Billericay. Most of the time, however, fact and fiction are mixed together: The Adventures of Telemachus and The Compleat Mendicant are presented in the same list of "History" as The History of the Revolution in Portugual in the Year 1640, with no distinction made between the fictions and the factual account. (66) The Terra Catalogues are the work of the booksellers and printers, not authors, so they show us that booksellers in the early part of the century did not conceive of fiction as being a separate category from fact. By the 1770s, catalogues such as William Bent's The London Catalogue of Books separated "novels and romances" from nonfictional books, but did not use different genre labels within the list of fiction. (67)

Titles may appear with additional genre terms in many other places--book reviews, half-title pages and interior title pages, library catalogues, and the like. (68) The fact remains that in many cases one cannot tell from the title page or advertisements whether the text is fiction or fact. This has been a serious problem for modern critics. To confer some definitional stability on the genre distinctions, many critics devise their own definitions that en able them to discuss particular fictions as novels, romances, tales, or whatever other signifiers they have chosen. (69) This can be useful for particular interpretative projects: I have done something similar here, where I have accepted modern conceptions of "fiction" in order to distinguish works that are imaginative narratives from those that are apparently reporting the truth. Such tactics, however, can also be extremely limiting. If we were to look only at books we know for certain are entirely imaginative and without a factual basis, we would have to omit (for example) The Apparition of One Mrs Veal, narratives that pretend to be describing a dream (including The Pilgrim's Progress), and almost all works of pseudo-factual scandal and intrigue.

This disparity between title-page indications of fact and the fictional content of a work suggests that some readers did not much care whether a work was true or not. This might be accurate in many cases, bur not all. Even seemingly strict modern definitions allow for a great deal of interpretation in determining which works are factual and which are fictional. Modern scholars sometimes use works generally considered fictional as evidence for biographical details about a person's life. (70) If we have no way of vetting such information, we should be extremely cautious about relying on it. The degree to which fact and fiction is intermingled in eighteenth-century works means that we can often not be sure whether to trust what we are reading--and the genre labels on the title pages are often little help in discriminating fact from fiction.


What do this study and the problems of distinguishing fact from fiction change about our understanding of genre labels on particular works? The use of genre labels in the eighteenth century has definite implications for the study of both particular texts and fiction more broadly. In this section, I will analyze three examples of works of fiction commonly studied and taught as "novels" that do not have "novel" on the title page: Behn's Oroonoko (1688), the first volume of Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), and Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1759-67). In all three cases, the use of genre terms on the title pages has become a significant focal point for the influence of the work on the history of the English novel. The discrepancy between the actual practice of genre labeling of early fiction and modern critical assumptions about the use of genres at the rime seriously impacts our perception of how fiction genres were understood in the eighteenth century.

When modern critics focus on genre nomenclature, they generally do so by studying particularly famous texts in isolation. Much has been made of Robinson Crusoe's statement that his tale is "by Himself" and the claim in Serious Reflections that his story is not a romance, but an "allusive allegorick History." (71) Dieter Schulz has done a thorough job of arguing that "Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding did employ the term 'romance' in order to denounce the typical features of earlier fiction, but instead of adopting the term 'novel' for their own work, they censured 'novel' and 'romance' equally" Similarly, Davis writes that "Fielding uses the words 'life' or 'history' rather than 'novel' to describe his works. He might be said to be trying to distinguish his writings from the earlier works mentioned here, by calling himself an historian or biographer." (72) But without any sense of how the labels were used on fiction title pages more broadly, the potential effect on readers (and consequently what Fielding was trying to convey by using a particular term) is impossible to determine. Critical analyses of genre terms on title pages of texts without any context can only refer back to a modern understanding of the nomenclature, not to how the contemporary readers would have understood the terms.

As Fielding would later do, Behn (or her bookseller) does not use the label "novel" for Oroonoko: or, The Royal Slave. A True History (1688). In the dedication she claims that "The Royal Slave I had the Honour to know in my Travels to the other World," so "If there be any thing that seems Romantick, I beseech your Lordship to consider, these Countries do, in all things, so far differ from ours, that they produce unconceivable Wonders:' A similar declaration of truth prefaces the story.73 When the text appears in Behn's collected works it is called The History of Oroonoko. No one, however, seems to have been long fooled by this claim to truth. In the dedication to his dramatic adaptation of Oroonoko (1696) Thomas Southerne writes that "I have often wonder'd that she [Behn] would bury her Favourite Hero in a Novel, when she might have reviv'd him in the Scene." (74) While Southerne might be referring solely to Oroonoko's death in the story, he might also mean the relative obscurity of novels as compared to plays. Either way, Southerne clearly recognized Oroonoko as a work of fiction. The term "novel;" however, does not appear on the title page until 1770 in an edition from a provincial press. (75) Even though Southerne's comment demonstrates that he believed Oroonoko to be fictional, the possibility that some readers took it as fact remained until the end of the eighteenth century, The work is included in A Collection of Novels, Selected and Revised by Mrs. Griffith (1777), but the advertisement for this collection in the Morning Post and Daily Advertiser explains that "The story here given is authentic. It was written by her, at the request of Charles II, to whom she had related it on her return from Surinam, the scene of the horrid tragedy." (76) The fact that this assertion of veracity is used so late in the century indicates that even in the late 1770s readers might have been more attracted to a story that claimed to be true than to a story that admitted it was fictional. Moreover, the term "novel" is used on the title of this collection alongside the declaration of truth.

From this we can conclude that publishers of Oroonoko saw no incongruity between the labels "novel" and "true history." In both the periods 1680-99 and 1770-79, the term "novel" appeared on between 22 and 30 percent of the fiction published, and "history" appeared on between 21 and 33 percent. The first edition of Oroonoko is one of only four instances of "true history" appearing on a title page of fiction in the 1680s. Since "true history" was seldom used, the switch to "history" makes good sense, from a publisher's point of view. What a modern reader would view as a discrepancy in the meaning between "novel" and "history" might have seemed less important to a contemporary reader who was used to seeing the terms used with equal frequency on works of fiction. (77) The title pages and advertisements do not tell us whether the readers would have thought the story true or not, but the use of both "novel" and "history" suggests that they did not care.

While even early readers of Oroonoko, like Southerne, appear to have recognized it as an imaginative work, the readers of Defoe's fictions would probably have been less sure that they were not reading factual accounts. A number of critics--including Everett Zimmerman, Davis, and Richetti--have pointed out that Robinson Crusoe has no explicit indication that it is a work of fiction. (78) The title page of the first edition reads The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner ... With An Account how be was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Beyond the promise of "An Account" of his rescue, the title page does not signal the genre of the text. Some critics simply refer to the work as a "novel" without qualification. (79) Others have used labels such as "spiritual autobiography" which is not used in the eighteenth century. (80) Modern critics have largely not worried about the genre on the title page so much as they have been concerned with Crusoe's claim to have written his own narrative.

What might a contemporary reader have thought of the title? According to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), thirty-six different titles including Crusoe came out under the imprint of W. Taylor in 1719 (or were to be sold at his shop). Of these, nineteen were on religious or devotional subjects, including a collaborative printing of A Compleat Collection of the Works of the Reverend and Learned John Kettlewell in two thick folios. Other than The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, none of the works was fiction, though four of them also used the label "account" on the title page. Some of these are clearly meant for entertainment, such as an edition of John Donne's poems or a translation of Ovid's Art of Love. In 1719, therefore, Taylor's interests (and perhaps those of his customers) seem to have been primarily in religious writing and factual histories or accounts, with a few examples of poetry and instructional works (Harland's Spelling-Book and Quincy's Compleat English Dispensatory). A reader looking for a work of fiction would not likely have turned to Taylor. While we cannot know for sure what a reader in 1719 would have thought of the Crusoe trilogy, its placement alongside works such as Jeremy Taylor's The Rule and Exercise of Holy Dying would have made it seem much more convincing as a serious, factual history than if it were sold next to Eliza Haywood's Love in Excess. The use of "account" on the title page allows for such an interpretation: Love in Excess is very clearly labeled "A Novel," but Robinson Crusoe is not.

Another text that does not have "novel" on the title page but was evidently taken as fiction was Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. In 1769 it was one of the texts included in a five-volume edition of The Works of Laurence Sterne, indicating that Tristram is not himself the real author. The first edition with any indication of the genre is in 1793, when it was printed as volume 10 of Cooke's Edition of Select Novels: or, Novelist's Pocket Library. Sterne's first reviewer, William Kenrick, pointed out that the use of the phrase "Life and Opinions" in the title set the work apart from other novels. (81) Thomas Keymer elaborates on this idea by arguing that although "Sterne writes at a time when the conventions of fictional representation, such as they were, remained fluid, ill defined, and keenly contested" in Tristram Shandy he "did indeed contemplate a critique of the emerging genre, and ... achieved it." (82) Robert Folkenflik disagrees with the traditional importance given to Kenrick's use of the term "novel" commenting that Sterne did not use "novel" and that "A number of other descriptive categories were used in preference, including 'life' or 'history; and in this respect, Kenrick's immediate identification of Tristram Shandy as a novel ... is not fully representative of usage at the rime." (83) Sterne certainly does not use the term "novel," although it was in use in the 1760s. Some modem critics have compared Tristram Shandy to Don Quixote, but the terms "romance" and "anti-romance" are also absent from the title page. (84) Still, this is hardly surprising given that less than 10 percent of the fiction in the 1750s and 1760s had "novel" on the title page, and less than 1 percent had "romance." The more surprising fact is that Sterne or his publisher did not use "history,' which appeared on nearly a third of the fiction title pages of this period. "History" would certainly apply to a work describing a person's life, which is the ostensible project of Tristram Shandy. Sterne had used a genre label in 1759 for A Political Romance, but did not do so for Tristram Shandy. (85) The absence of such a term sets Tristram Shandy apart from the other works published that same year that were clearly identifying themselves with existing genre categories.

"The two main points evident from this discussion of labels on certain texts are that the definitions of genre terms in the eighteenth century were by no means settled, so writers and publishers of fiction tended to use such terms because they were popular, rather than because they reflected a conscious artistic choice. Scholars of the novel as a genre have already pointed out discrepancies between modern and historical definitions: Jonathan Arac states bluntly that "There were prose narratives that we may call novels, or novelistic, before the age of the novel, and in the West the age of the novel has ended." (86) Yet "the age of the novel" refers to a time when the term "novel" was not widely in use. George Boulukos explains certain lines of thought in modern criticism, such as the association of the novel with the middle class, as a product of the environment of the critics in the academy, rather than the historical circumstances of the literature they study. (87) Such analysis is much more convincing in light of the discrepancy between critical perceptions of genre terms and historical realities. In fact, genres of eighteenth-century fiction were far from definitive, and seem to have been used with little regard for specific differences in meaning.

The use of genre labels as a marketing device has not yet been discussed either in histories of fiction or in histories of publishing and bookselling. McKeon comes close to this concept when be writes that "the dependence of novelistic form (length, seriality, conventionality) on the form of the market would continue to preoccupy commentators in the following century." (88) Eighteenth-century writers of prefaces and reviews did indeed note the changes in conventions, different types of fiction that were popular, and the development at the end of the century of the three-volume format and the process of serial publication. The idea that the fiction marketplace could have influenced the wording of the title page makes sense along with J. A. Downie's argument that "it was in these years [the last three decades of the eighteenth century] ... that 'the novel' finally came into being, because the process took place not so much in the production of new works, but in the construction of a canon.., as far as the forces determining literary production are concerned, we should be looking at the publishers rather than the readers." (89) Although we cannot know in most cases whether the author or the bookseller was responsible for the title page, I would like to suggest that the genre labels could have been used to advertise a work of fiction as being in fashion and similar, at least in kind or form, to other works popular at the time. Advertisers of Oroonoko identified it as possibly factual for more than a century after its publication; Crusoe was associated with other "accounts," both factual and fictional, including those from the same bookseller as appears on the imprint; and Sterne asserts Tristram Shandy's uniqueness by eschewing genre labels that would link it to conventional forms. As paratextual apparatus, the title pages were the first indication for a potential reader of what the book would contain--and in an age when title pages were hung outside shops that sold books to advertise the products available inside, the genre label mattered in very real, economic

terms. (90)

Viewing genre as a marketing device invites writers of literary history to reconsider the idea of "the novel" as a singular, organic form. Davis has asked, "Who put the The in the Novel?" and argued against unity and absolutism in fiction studies. (91) His question might usefully be changed to inquire, "Who put Novel in the Novel?" As the statistics in Table 1 prove, "novel" did not become the dominant terra until the very late eighteenth century. The difficulty with which McBurney and Beasley define the boundaries of their checklists displays the problem: the "novel" as most people understand it now, simply did not exist in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was often used synonymously with other terms ("history," "memoirs," etc.), and rather than defining a genre, it described a type of fiction within a broader context. If we look only at fiction that resembles modern novels, omitting, as McBurney and Beasley do, chapbooks, joke books, fables, religious texts with illustrative anecdotes, criminal confessions, and all the other types of fiction written in the eighteenth century, we do indeed get a much more unified picture of early fiction. This picture, while seemingly still very messy compared with the world of fiction in the nineteenth century, is deceptively homogenous. Instead, the range of fiction written in this time was much more diverse than those long, narrative works that we might call "novels"

Despite these seeming inconsistencies, authors and printers in the eighteenth century did evidently recognize fiction as a discrete enterprise in a variety of ways. They used terms like "novel" "romance," "tale" or "story" only for fictional works. Writers of prefaces made elaborate declarations of truth, or explained why the truth of the story should not matter. Booksellers advertised that they had "novels" for sale, as they did "plays" or "chronicles." Some terms were used differently than we now might use them, but still had specific meanings to the audience: a "history" was a general terra for a narrative that might be factor fiction, long or short, and a "memoir" similarly might be true or false. The terms were not as rigidly defined as they now are, and so modern critics have been tempted to ignore them. The fact remains, however, that they are used to indicate types--if not a single type--of fiction. They may be used in combination, but they are not, for the most part, entirely interchangeable. Methods for categorizing and describing fiction of this period should not rely on fiction genre classifications from the twenty-first century, but also should not entirely trust labels and classifications described or used in the early eighteenth century. There is no satisfactory solution to this terminological problem, but critics need to be sensitive to the labels used in the period as well as their limitations for modern scholarship.

I have here tried to describe the variety of genre labels used for fiction and argued that such labels reflect changing tastes and fashions in the fiction marketplace. A study such as this is greatly facilitated by the availability of these texts on EEBO and ECCO, which (despite their problems) enable us to map eighteenth-century literature as we never could before. One possible interpretative application is to investigate the connections between the genre terms used and the types of fiction produced, which could help us to understand better how the early readers and writers of these texts conceived of genre, and what they thought they were doing with fiction. We need to approach these works as an eighteenth-century reader might have, and to recognize that the publishers of fiction and the demands of the market were at least as influential on the works printed and the way they were presented as were the authors who wrote them. Looking at how "novel" becomes the dominant terra for long works of prose fiction can help us to identify when eighteenth-century readers, writers, and booksellers recognized that different types of fiction were part of the same overall enterprise--and that fictional "accounts" "memoirs;" "romances," and the like shared common traits denoted by "novel."

Pennsylvania State University


I am grateful to Robert D. Hume, Ashley Marshall, Jonathan Pritchard, David Wallace Spielman, Patricia Gael, and Julian Fung for helpful comments on drafts of this essay. An oral version was given at the Society for Textual Scholarship Conference in State College, PA, March, 2011.

(1) Arundell Esdaile, A List of English Tales and Prose Romances Printed before 1740 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1912), xxi.

(2) Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding (U. of California Press, 1957); John J. Richetti, Popular Fiction before Richardson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969); Ioan Williams, The Idea of the Novel in Europe, 1600-1800 (New York U. Press, 1979).

(3) Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1987); Joseph F. Bartolomeo, A New Species of Criticism: Eighteenth-Century Discourse on the Novel (Newark: U. of Delaware Press, 1994).

(4) McKeon, Origins of the English Novel; J. Paul Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction (New York: Norton, 1990); William B. Warner, Licensing Entertainment: The Elevation of Novel Reading in Britain, 1684-1750 (U. of California Press, 1998).

(5) Charles C. Mish, English Prose Fiction, 1600-1700: A Chronological Checklist (Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the U. of Virginia, 1967); William Harlin McBurney, A Check List of English Prose Fiction, 1700-1739 (Harvard U. Press, 1960); Jerry C. Beasley, A Check List of Prose Fiction Published in England, 1740-1749 (Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the U. of Virginia, 1972); James Raven, British Fiction, 1750-1770: A Chronological Check-List of Prose Fiction Printed in Britain and Ireland (Newark, DE: U. of Delaware Press, 1987); Peter Garside with James Raven and Rainer Schowerling, The English Novel 1770-1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles, 2 vols. (Oxford U. Press, 2000).

(6) Robert Adams Day, Told in Letters: Epistolary Fiction before Richardson (Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 1966), 5. For similar sentiments see Joseph F. Bartolomeo, A New Species of Criticism, 11-12 and Karen O'Brien, "History and the Novel in Eighteenth-Century Britain," Huntington Library Quarterly 68 (2005): 397, nl.

(7) Franco Moretti, "Style, Inc.: Reflections on Seven Thousand Titles (British Novels, 1740-1850)," Critical Inquiry 36 (2009): 134-58.

(8) Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (London: Verso, 2005), 3-24.

(9) Peter Garside, "The English Novel in the Romantic Era: Consolidation and Dispersal," Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction, 2:50.

(10) See Garside, Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction, 1:4-5, for the statement of their policy for choosing texts. For more on how the compilers of this bibliography define novel, see James Raven, "Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age," in Garside, Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction, 1:21-39.

(11) Mish explains that his checklist "is basically a chronological rearrangement of the seventeenth-century material" in Esdaile's bibtiography (Checklist, 3).

(12) McBurney, A Check List of English Prose Fiction, ix; Beasley, A Check List of Prose Fiction, ix; Raven, British Fiction 1750-1770, 5-6.

(13) Village Memoirs (London: 1775). Garside, Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction, vol. 1, no. 1775:22 (238).

(14) The True Secret History of the Lives and Reigns (London: 1725). McBurney, Check List, no. 170 (63).

(15) A Select Collection of Novels (London: 1722). McBurney, Check List, no. 117 (42).

(16) Rosalinda: A Novel (London: 1733). McBurney, Check List, no. 285 (94).

(17) Edith Kern, "The Romance of Novel/Novella," The Disciplines of Criticism: Essays in Literary Theory, Interpretation, and History, ed. Peter Demetz, Thomas Greene, and Lowry Nelson Jr. (Yale U. Press, 1968), 511-30.

(18) "Novel, n." definition 4 (rev. 2010), OED, online ed. (Oxford U. Press); Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vols. (London: 1755), "Novel, n." definition 1.

(19) McKeon, Origins of the English Novel, 19.

(20) Hunter, Before Novels, 22.

(21) Wiliams, Idea of the Novel in Europe, ix.

(22) Garside, Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction, 2:50.

(23) Lennard J. Davis, Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel (Columbia U. Press, 1983), 40-41; Williams, Idea of the Novel in Europe, 69.

(24) Garside, Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction, 2:51-52. and Moretti, "Style, Inc." 156-57.

(25) Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, A Gothic Story, 2nd ed. (London: 1765), vi.

(26) Clara Reeve, The Progress of Romance, through rimes, Countries, and Manners, 2 vols. (London: 1785), 1:iii, 13-19, 110-11. See also David H. Richter, The Progress of Romance: Literary Historiography and the Gothic Novel (Columbus: Ohio U. Press, 1996), 83-108, for a more detailed analysis of Reeve's ideas and the Gothic romance tradition.

(27) O'Brien, "History and the Novel," 398.

(28) Day, Told in Letters, 2.

(29) Raven, "Historical Introduction," 31-32. E G. Black estimates, without having examined all the texts, that there were 506 epistolary novels printed in English in the period 1740-1800 ("The Technique of Letter Fiction in English from 1740 to 1800;" Harvard Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature 15 [1933]: 291-92). For a selective list of letter fiction including European works, see Thomas O. Beebee, Epistolary Fiction in Europe 1500-1850 (Cambridge U. Press, 1999), 231-58.

(30) Tancred: A Tale of Ancient Times, 2 vols. (London: 1791).

(31) The Persian and the Turkish Tales, Compleat, trans. Petis de la Croix and others. 2 vols. (London: 1714).

(32) See McBurney, Check List, 10-11, for information about the publication history of this work.

(33) Samuel Johnson, The Prince of Abissinia, 2 vols. (London: 1759), and Rajah Kisna, 3 vols. (London: 1786).

(34) Rebecca Bullard, The Politics of Disclosure, 1674-1725: Secret History Narratives (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2009), 13-20.

(35) McKeon, Origins of the English Novel, 39.

(36) Black, "Letter Fiction," 293, claims that the "average reader ... was familiar with the 'secret history:" See also Margaret Anne Doody, The True Story of the Novel (New Brunswick: Rutgers U. Press, 1996), 483.

(37) Lucretia; Or, Virtue the Best Dowry, 2 vols. (London: 1790). Garside, Bibliographical Survey, no. 1790:18 (1:494).

(38) Jonathan Swift, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, 2 vols. (London: 1726). McBurney, Check List, no. 199 (70-71).

(39) See Davis, Factual Fictions, 15-20, for a more detailed discussion of the reader's expectations based on prefatory discussions of fact and fiction.

(40) Hunter, Before Novels, 25.

(41) For examples of modern scholarship examining eighteenth-century criticism using the prefaces to fictional works, see Jerry C. Beasley, Novels of the 1740s (Athens, GA: U. of Georgia Press, 1982), 5-9, and Michael McKeon, "Prose Fiction: Great Britain" The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 4: The Eighteenth Century, ed. H. B. Nisbet and Claude Rawson (Cambridge U. Press, 1997), 238-63.

(42) For a succinct survey of Congreve's preface in scholarship on the novel, see Kristiaan P. Aercke, "Congreve's Incognita: Romance, Novel, Drama?" Eighteenth-Century Fiction 2 (1990): 293-308. Queen Zarah was long attributed to Delarivier Manley, but J. A. Downie has recently made a convincing case in favor of Joseph Browne being the author ("What if Delarivier Manley did not write The Secret History of Queen Zarah?" Library, 7th series, 5 (2004): 247-64). John L. Sutton Jr. has demonstrated that the preface is actually a literal translation of an essay by the abbe Morvan de Bellegarde ("The Source of Mrs. Manley's Preface to Queen Zarah," MP 82 [1984]: 167-72).

(43) Ros Ballaster, Seductive Forros: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 35-37. McKeon, "Prose Fiction: Great Britain," 247n3, and William St Clair, The Reading Nation in the Rornantic Period (Cambridge U. Press, 2004), 280-84. St Clair also comments that in the early nineteenth century "Women's reading, at any rate women's reading of the upper-income groups, the commonplace books suggest, was by no means limited to writings regarded as suitable for women" (227).

(44) Kern, "The Romance of Novel/Novella"

(45) Ioan Williams, Novel and Romance 1700-1800: A Documentary Record (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1970). For a more recent anthology, see Cheryl L. Nixon, ed., Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815 (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2008).

(46) A Voyage to the World of Cartesius (London: 1692), A5v. A similar sentiment can be found in Madeleine De Gomez, The Persian Anecdotes: Or, Secret Memoirs of the Court of Persia (London: 1730), x.

(47) The Strange Adventures of the Count de Vinevil and his Family (London: 1721), 6. Another example of a claim to plausibility can be found in The Secret History of Burgundy (London: 1723), x-xi.

(48) Marie Catherine d'Aulnoy, The Lady--Travels into Spain (London: 1691), Address to the Reader, A4r.

(49) Francois Dalerac, Polish Manuscripts (London: 1700), A3r.

(50) Mary Davys, The Fugitive (London: 1705), A5r. For similar statements of romance as being untrue, see The Adventures of Catullus, and History of his Amours with Lesbia (London: 1707), A6r, and Eliza Haywood, trans., Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (London: 1725), iii.

(51) A New Voyage to the East-Indies by Francis Le Guat and His Companions (London: 1708), iii.

(52) William Ray, Story and History: Narrative Authority and Social Identity in the Eighteenth-Century-French and English Novel (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1990), and Leah Price, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel from Richardson to George Eliot (Cambridge U. Press, 2000), 5.

(53) John J. Richetti, The English Novel in History 1700-1780 (London: Routledge, 1999), 15, 20, 56.

(54) Thomas Brown with Captain Ayloff and Henry Barker (London: 1702); David Russen, Iter Lunare: Or, A Voyage to the Moon (London: 1703); The Admirable and Indefatigable Adventures of the Nine Pious Pilgrims (London: 1707).

(55) Warner, Licensing Entertainment, xii, 44.

(56) The Rival Mother (London: 1692). The False Step, 2 vols. (London: 1771).

(57) The Irish Rogue (London: 1690). Roger de Rabutin, Count de Bussy, The Amorous History of the Gauls (London: 1725).

(58) Chevy-Chase (London: 1690). Angelo Constantini, Life of Scaramouche (London: 1696).

(59) Henry Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, 2 vols. (London: 1742).

(60) James Raven, "The Anonymous Novel in Britain and Ireland, 1750-1830," The Faces of Anonymity: Anonymous and Pseudonymous Publication from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century, ed. Robert J. Griffin (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 143.

(61) Raven, "The Material Contours of the English Novel 1750-1830," Remapping the Rise of the European Novel, ed. Jenny Mander, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 10 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2007), 101.

(62) R.B., The Unfortunate Court-Favourites of England (London: 1695), 182-88. For a similar ad from Crouch see R. B., Wonderful Prodigies of Judgment and Mercy, 5th ed. (London: 1699), 179-90.

(63) The Inhumane Cardinal (London: 1696). Advertised in the London Gazette (5 December 1695): Issue 3137, p. 2.

(64) Daily Courant (16 February 1722): Issue 6341, p.2. For similar advertisements listing types of books for sale, see English Post with News Foreign and Domestick (15 December 1701): Issue 184, p.2; Daily Courant (22 June 1708): Issue 1979, p.2; Daily Courant (23 January 1711): Issue 2886, p.2; and Daily Journal (14 July 1721): Issue 149, p. 2.

(65) Edward Arber, ed. The Terra Catalogues, I668-1709A.D.; with a Number for Easter Terra, 1711 A.D., 3 vols. (London: Privately printed, 1906).

(66) Arber, Terra Catalogues, 3:96, 108, 170-71.

(67) See William Bent, The London Catalogue of Books (London: 1773), 56, for the list of fiction.

(68) On book reviews, see Antonia Forster, Index to Book Reviews in England 1749-1774 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois U. Press, 1990), 3-18.

(69) For examples of critics creating definitions of "novel" in the absence of any clear contemporary definition, see Richetti, Popular Fiction, 1 n 1 ("psychological participation" of the reader in the actions of the characters); Williams, The Idea of the Novel, xi ("relations between individual and social interests" ... "in concrete detail"); Beasley, Novels of the 1740s, 86 ("works about familiar domestic characters, acknowledged as fictions"); Hunter, Before Novels, 23-25; Davis, Factual Fictions, 40; and Terry Eagleton, The English Novel: An Introduction (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), 1 ("a piece of prose fiction of a reasonable length").

(70) For example, see S. M. Wynne's entry on "Eleanor [Nell] Gwyn (1651?-1687), actress and royal mistress" in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed., Oxford U. Press, 2004, rev. 2010), which cites Madam D'Aulnoy's Memoirs of the Court of England (London: 1707) with the qualification that her "anecdotes concerning the English court may have been largely invented but who nevertheless clearly had sources from inside that court." Another example is Carol Shiner Wilson, ed., The Galesia Trilogy and Selected Manuscript Poems of Jane Barker (Oxford U. Press, 1997), which intermingles details from The Galesia Trilogy with Barker's biography (11n5).

(71) Daniel Defoe, Serious Reflections During the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (London: 1720), 115. See Robert W. Ayers, "Robinson Crusoe: 'Allusive Allegorick History" PMLA 82 (1967): 399-407; and Davis, Factual Fictions, 156-61.

(72) Dieter Schulz, "Novel" 'Romance; and Popular Fiction in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century," SP 70 (1973): 79; Davis, Factual Fictions, 197.

(73) Aphra Behn, Oroonoko: or, The Royal Slave, A True History (London: 1688), A7v, 1-2.

(74) Thomas Southerne, Oroonoko: A Tragedy As It Is Acted at the Theatre-Royal (London: 1696), A2v.

(75) Aphra Behn, The History of Oroonoko: or, The Royal Slave. A Novel. Containing a Variety of Entertaining Passages, 9th ed.(Doncaster, 1770). The English Short Title Catalogue does not have records for all eight previous editions, so the first edition using "novel" may actually be earlier.

(76) Collection of Novels, 3 vols. (London: 1777). Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (30 July 1777): Issue 1489, p. 1.

(77) For examples of modern critics struggling with the genre of Oroonoko, see Katharine M. Rogers, "Fact and Fiction in.Aphra Behn's Oroonoko," Studies in the Novel 20 (1988): 10-11; Oddvar Holmesland, "Aphra Behn's Oroonoko: Cultural Dialectics and the Novel," ELH 68 (2001): 57-79; and Emily Hodgson Anderson, "Novelty in Novels: A Look at What's New in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko," Studies in the Novel 39 (2007): 3.

(78) Everett Zimmerman, Defoe and the Novel (U. of California Press, 1975), 20; Davis, Factual Fictions, 156; John J. Richetti, "Defoe as Narrative Innovator," The Cambridge Companion to Daniel Defoe, ed. Richetti (Cambridge U. Press, 2008), 123.

(79) For example, see David Blewett, Defoe's Art of Fiction: "Robinson Crusoe," "Moll Flanders," "Colonel Jack," and "Roxana" (U. of Toronto Press, 1979), chap. 1; Michael M. Boardman, Defoe and the Uses of Narrative (New Brunswick: Rutgers U. Press, 1983), 6-7; Robert Markley, The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (Cambridge U. Press, 2006), 177.

(80) Most famously, G. A. Starr, Defoe and Spiritual Autobiography (Princeton U. Press, 1965), and J. Paul Hunter, The Reluctant Pilgrim: Defoe's Emblematic Method and Quest for Form in Robinson Crusoe (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1966).

(81) Cited in Thomas Keymer, Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel (Oxford U. Press, 2002), 19. See Monthly Review 21 (December 1759): 561.

(82) Keymer, Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel, 20-21, 25.

(83) Robert Folkenflik, "Tristram Shandy and Eighteenth-Century Narrative," The Cambridge Companion to Laurence Sterne, ed. Thomas Keymer (Cambridge U. Press, 2009), 50.

(84) For example, see Mark Loveridge, Laurence Sterne and the Argument about Design (London: Macmillan Press, 1982), 136-37.

(85) Laurence Sterne, A Political Romance, Addressed To--, Esq; of York (York, 1759).

(86) Jonathan Arac, "What Kind of History Does a Theory of the Novel Require?" Novel 42 (2009): 190.

(87) George Boulukos, "How the Novel Became Middle Class: A History of Histories of the Novel," Novel 42 (2009): 245-52.

(88) McKeon, "Prose Fiction: Great Britain," 246.

(89) J.A. Downie, "The Making of the English Novel," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 9 (1997): 263.

(90) On the widespread use of title pages as advertisements, see James Raven, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade, 1450-1850 (Yale U. Press, 2007), 170-71.

(91) Lennard J. Davis, "Who put the The in the Novel?: Identity Politics and Disability in Novel Studies," Novel 31 (1998): 317-34.
Table 1: Titles with Genre Labels

The first figure in each column is the raw number of titles
employing the descriptor; the second figure, in parentheses,
is the percentage of titles using a particular term during
each decade, rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

Decade    Novel      History    Romance    Memoirs    Letters

1660s     3(6%)      19(36%)    14(26%)    0          0
1670s     23(24%)    21(22%)    11(11%)    5(5%)      2(2%)
1680s     49(30%)    39(24%)    3(2%)      3(2%)      7(4%)
1690s     24(30%)    17(21%)    2(2%)      6(7%)      9(11%)
1700s     3(6%)      8(17%)     1(2%)      9(19%)     9(19%)
1710s     10(17%)    17(28%)    1(2%)      8(13%)     8(13%)
1720s     35(26%)    26(19%)    0          14(10%)    12(9%)
1730s     9(10%)     25(27%)    1(1%)      18(20%)    11(12%)
1740s     18(9%)     36(17%)    1(1%)      33(16%)    19(9%)
1750s     20(7%)     90(30%)    2(1%)      44(15%)    31(10%)
1760s     37(10%)    112(31%)   3(1%)      41(11%)    48(13%)
1770s     68(22%)    102(33%)   5(2%)      38(12%)    60(19%)
1780s     149(37%)   78(19%)    8(2%)      37(9%)     89(22%)
1790s     279(40%)   51(7%)     53(8%)     31(4%)     33(5%)
Total     727(24%)   641(21%)   105(3%)    287(9%)    338(11%)

Decade    Story     Tale       Secret    True      Account
                               History   History

1660s     1(1%)     0          0         0         2(4%)
1670s     2(2%)     0          0         2(2%)     5(5%)
1680s     5(3%)     3(2%)      0         4(2%)     12(7%)
1690s     0         1(1%)      5(6%)     4(5%)     3(4%)
1700s     1(2%)     4(9%)      3(6%)     0         8(17%)
1710s     2(3%)     7(12%)     9(15%)    0         8(13%)
1720s     4(3%)     3(2%)      18(13%)   9(7%)     14(10%)
1730s     4(4%)     5(5%)      8(9%)     3(3%)     5(5%)
1740s     9(4%)     8(4%)      8(4%)     4(2%)     33(16%)
1750s     15(5%)    12(4%)     7(2%)     3(1%)     22(7%)
1760s     12(3%)    27(7%)     2(1%)     1(1%)     9(2%)
1770s     11(3%)    19(6%)     1(1%)     1(1%)     3(1%)
1780s     14(3%)    50(12%)    0         0         0
1790s     28(4%)    111(16%)   1(1%)     1(1%)     1(1%)
Total     108(4%)   250(8%)    62(2%)    32(1%)    128(4%)

Decade   Other      No Label   Total

1660s    7(13%)     13(25%)    53
1670s    20(21%)    20(21%)    97
1680s    16(10%)    42(26%)    164
1690s    9(11%)     13(16%)    81
1700s    501%)      13(28%)    47
1710s    3(5%)      8(13%)     60
1720s    9(7%)      27(20%)    137
1730s    12(13%)    23(25%)    92
1740s    41(20%)    51(24%)    209
1750s    30(10%)    89(30%)    299
1760s    52(14%)    80(22%)    362
1770s    17(5%)     60(19%)    315
1780s    31(8%)     76(19%)    405
1790s    39(6%)     132(19%)   701
Total    288(10%)   647(21%)   3022

Table 2: "Other" Category, by Decade

1660s:  Description, Fables, Narrative, Parable, Relation (3)

1670s:  Annals, Conversation, Description, Discourse (2), Essay,
        Fables, Jests (2), Narration, News, Record, Relation (7),

1680s:  Description, Dialogue (2), Discourse (2), Fables (2),
        Jests, Narrative, Relation (2), Report (2), Treatise,
        Works (2)

1690s:  Allegories, Fables (3), Narrative, Remarks, Works (3)

1700s:  Journal, Passages, Relation (2), Works

1710s:  Fables, Narrative, Testimony

1720s:  Conversation, Description, Journal (3), Narrative (2),
        Relation, Work

1730s:  Allegory, Anecdotes, Description, Jokes, Narrative,
        Passages, Pieces, Relation (3), Remarks (2)

1740s:  Anecdotes, Apology (4), Chronicle (2), Conversations,
        Correspondence, Dialogue, Fables (3), Miscellany (4),
        Narrative (15), News, Parable, Passages, Relation (2),
        Remarks (2), Treatise, Works

1750s:  Anecdotes (3), Apology, Conversations, Description (3),
        Dialogue, Fable (2), Inquiry, Narrative (11), Passages,
        Preachment, Relation, Remarks (2), Scenes (2)

1760s:  Allegory (4), Anecdotes (10), Chronicle, Conversation,
        Description (3), Dialogue (5), Fables (3), Journal (2),
        Meditations, Narration, Narrative (7), Observations (3),
        Relation, Remarks (4), Rhapsody, Scenes (2), Sketch,
        Work (2)

1770s:  Anecdotes (8), Dialogue (2), Fables, Narrative (5), Work

1780s:  Allegory (3), Anecdotes (14), Apologues, Burlesque, Fables
        (3), Fiction, Narrative (5), Novellettes (2), Pastoral

1790s:  Allegory, Anecdotes (17), Biography, Chronicle, Confessions,
        Description, Dialogue, Fables, Narrative (7), Sketch (6),
        Work (2)
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Author:Orr, Leah
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Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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