Heroine, or Adventures of a Fair Romance Reader, The; In Three Volumes.

“A Delightful Burlesque, Particularly on the Radcliffe Style”—Jane Austen

BARRETT, Eaton Stannard. The Heroine, or Adventures of a Fair Romance Reader. In Three Volumes. London: Printed for Henry Colburn, Public Library, Conduit-Street, Hanover-Square; and sold by George Goldie, Edinburgh, and John Cumming, Dublin, 1813.

First edition. Three small octavo volumes (5 7/8 x 3 13/16 inches; 148 x 97 mm.). xx, 224; [2], 239, [1, blank]; [2], 302, [2, publisher’s advertisements] pp.

Contemporary dark green horizontally-ribbed cloth. Front cover stamped in blind with the royal arms of Great Britain (United Kingdom) and Hanover, back cover stamped in blind with a central cartouche, spine decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt, edges sprinkled red. From the library of the Royal House of Hanover at Marienberg, Germany, with a pencilled shelfmark (“1141”) on the front pastedown of Volume I. A fine copy, in a contemporary royal cloth binding.

Of this book, Jane Austen, in a letter dated 2 March 1814, comments: "I finished The Heroine last night and was very much amused by it…It diverted me exceedingly…I have torn through the third volume…I do not think it falls off. It is a delightful burlesque particularly on the Radcliffe style."

“Published in 1813, The Heroine quite clearly draws on the content and conventions of other texts as a way of creating its comic effects. More specifically, the contrivances and contraptions of Gothic novels are much in evidence as the eponymous heroine turns her back on a humdrum rural existence and embarks upon a set of picaresque adventures. While Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818) has long been enjoyed as an entertaining engagement with the Gothic (first as a burlesque and more recently as a subtle appropriation of Gothic conventions for the purpose of exploring dark but mundane truths), Barrett’s The Heroine has fallen into obscurity. Austen’s famous novel begins with the words, ‘No one who had seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine’. Barrett’s ‘heroine’, Cherry Wilkinson, is a similarly unlikely candidate for the role; like Catherine Morland, she is a novel reader but one who wilfully sets out to adopt an identity modelled on the fictional heroines she has encountered. The result is that the story of Cherry’s adventures, like those of Catherine Morland, bears a parodic relationship to the novels of her time…” (Avril Horner and Sue Zlosnik, Dead Funny: Eaton Stannard Barrett’s The Heroine as Comic Gothic, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, Articles, Issue 5 (November 2000) at http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/corvey/articles/cc05_n02.html).

Summers, Gothic Bibliography, p. 354. Item #00388

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