New Books Network

Though not as well known today as some of her literary contemporaries, Charlotte Lennox wrote numerous works during the mid-18th century that won her...

Though not as well known today as some of her literary contemporaries, Charlotte Lennox wrote numerous works during the mid-18th century that won her critical acclaim and influenced subsequent generations of authors. In Charlotte Lennox: An Independent Mind (University of Toronto Press, 2018), Susan Carlile draws upon Lennox’s published works, her surviving correspondence, and the studies of her era to reconstruct the life and times of this remarkable writer. Growing up in Britain’s Atlantic empire, young Charlotte Ramsay’s preparations for a position in the court were derailed by her marriage to an impecunious Scotsman. In need of an income, the newly married Lennox attempted a career as an actress before turning to her pen for her livelihood. Though her early writing won both a wide audience and the admiration of such influential figures as Samuel Johnson, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding, Lennox faced the continuous challenges common to writers of the era of earning an income sufficient for her family’s needs. As Carlile details, this led Lennox to produce both fiction and nonfiction across a range of genres, which demonstrated the scope of her skills and inspired numerous imitators and successors.