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Charlotte Turner Smith

Charlotte Turner Smith

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Charlotte Turner Smith (4 May 1749 – 28 October 1806) was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 Romantic poet
Romantic poetry
Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-1700s as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day , also influenced poetry...

 and novelist. She initiated a revival of the English sonnet
Sonnet
A sonnet is one of several forms of poetry that originate in Europe, mainly Provence and Italy. A sonnet commonly has 14 lines. The term "sonnet" derives from the Occitan word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning "little song" or "little sound"...

, helped establish the conventions of Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Gothicism's origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story"...

, and wrote political novels of sensibility
Sensibility
Sensibility refers to an acute perception of or responsiveness toward something, such as the emotions of another. This concept emerged in eighteenth-century Britain, and was closely associated with studies of sense perception as the means through which knowledge is gathered...

.

Smith was born into a wealthy family and received a typical education for a woman during the late 18th century. However, her father's reckless spending forced her to marry early. In a marriage that she later described as prostitution, she was given by her father to the violent and profligate Benjamin Smith. Their marriage was deeply unhappy, although they had twelve children together. Charlotte joined Benjamin in debtor's prison
Debtor's prison
A debtors' prison is a prison for those who are unable to pay a debt.Prior to the mid 19th century debtors' prisons were a common way to deal with unpaid debt.-Debt bondage in ancient Greece and Rome:...

, where she wrote her first book of poetry, Elegiac Sonnets. Its success allowed her to help pay for Benjamin's release. Benjamin's father attempted to leave money to Charlotte and her children upon his death, but legal technicalities prevented her from ever acquiring it.

Charlotte Smith eventually left Benjamin and began writing to support their children. Smith's struggle to provide for her children and her frustrated attempts to gain legal protection as a woman provided themes for her poetry and novels; she included portraits of herself and her family in her novels as well as details about her life in her prefaces. Her early novels are exercises in aesthetic development, particularly of the Gothic and sentimentality
Sentimentalism
Sentimentalism is used in different ways:* Sentimentalism , a theory in moral epistemology concerning how one knows moral truths; also known as moral sense theory* Sentimentalism , a form of literary discourse...

. "The theme of her many sentimental and didactic novels was that of a badly married wife helped by a thoughtful sensible lover" (Smith's entry in British Authors Before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary Ed. Stanley Kunitz and Howard Haycraft. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1952. pg. 478.) Her later novels, including The Old Manor House, often considered her best, support the ideals of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.

Smith was a successful writer, publishing ten novels, three books of poetry, four children's books, and other assorted works, over the course of her career. She always saw herself as a poet first and foremost, however, as poetry was considered the most exalted form of literature at the time. Smith's poetry and prose was praised by contemporaries such as Romantic poets
Romantic poetry
Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-1700s as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day , also influenced poetry...

 William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

 and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

 as well as novelist Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

. After 1798, Smith's popularity waned and by 1803 she was destitute and ill—she could barely hold a pen. She had to sell her books to pay off her debts. In 1806, Smith died. Largely forgotten by the middle of the 19th century, her works have now been republished and she is recognized as an important Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 writer.

Early life


Smith was born on 4 May 1749 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and baptized on 12 June; she was the oldest child of well-to-do Nicholas Turner and Anna Towers. Her two younger siblings, Nicholas and Catherine Ann, were born within the next five years. Smith's childhood was shaped by her mother's early death (probably in giving birth to Catherine) and her father's reckless spending. After losing his wife, Nicholas Turner traveled and the children were raised by Lucy Towers, their maternal aunt (when exactly their father returned is unknown). At the age of six, Charlotte went to school in Chichester
Chichester
Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, South-East England. It has a long history as a settlement; its Roman past and its subsequent importance in Anglo-Saxon times are only its beginnings...

 and took drawing lessons from the painter George Smith. Two years later, she, her aunt, and her sister moved to London and she attended a girls school in Kensington
Kensington
Kensington is a district of west and central London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Street, and it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensington.To the north, Kensington is...

 where she learned dancing, drawing, music, and acting. She loved to read and wrote poems, which her father encouraged. She even submitted a few to the Lady's Magazine
Lady's Magazine
The Lady's Magazine or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement, was a British fashion magazine produced every month from 1770 until 1837 and cost six pence per copy. It was started in August 1770 by London bookseller John Coote and publisher John Wheble...

for publication, but they were not accepted.

Marriage and first publication



Smith's father encountered financial difficulties upon his return to England and he was forced to sell some of the family's holdings and to marry the wealthy Henrietta Meriton in 1765. Smith entered society at the age of twelve, leaving school and being tutored at home. On 23 February 1765, at the age of fifteen, she married Benjamin Smith, the son of Richard Smith, a wealthy West Indian merchant and a director of the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. The proposal was accepted for her by her father; forty years later, Smith condemned her father's action, which she wrote had turned her into a "legal prostitute".

Smith's marriage was unhappy. She detested living in commercial Cheapside
Cheapside
Cheapside is a street in the City of London that links Newgate Street with the junction of Queen Victoria Street and Mansion House Street. To the east is Mansion House, the Bank of England, and the major road junction above Bank tube station. To the west is St. Paul's Cathedral, St...

 (the family later moved to Southgate
Southgate
-Places:In the United Kingdom:*Southgate, London**Enfield Southgate **Southgate tube station*SouthGate, Bath*Southgate, Ceredigion*Southgate, Cheshire*Southgate, Norfolk*Southgate, Swansea*Southgate, West Sussex...

 and Tottenham
Tottenham
Tottenham is an area of the London Borough of Haringey, England, situated north north east of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:Tottenham is believed to have been named after Tota, a farmer, whose hamlet was mentioned in the Domesday Book; hence Tota's hamlet became Tottenham...

) and argued with her in-laws, who she believed were unrefined and uneducated. They, in turn, mocked her for spending time reading, writing, and drawing. Even worse, Benjamin proved to be violent, unfaithful, and profligate. Only her father-in-law, Richard, appreciated her writing abilities, although he wanted her to use them to further his business interests. Richard Smith owned plantations in Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 and he and his second wife brought five slaves to England, who, along with their descendants, were included as part of the family property in his will. Although Charlotte Smith later argued against slavery in works such as The Old Manor House (1793) and "Beachy Head", she herself benefited from the income and slave labor of Richard Smith's plantations.

In 1766, Charlotte and Benjamin had their first child, who died the next year just days after the birth of their second, Benjamin Berney (1767–77). Between 1767 and 1785, the couple had ten more children: William Towers (1768–), Charlotte Mary (c. 1769–), Braithwaite (1770–), Nicholas Hankey (1771–1837)Married Anni Petroose (1779-1843), Charles Dyer (1773–), Anna Augusta (1774–94), Lucy Eleanor (1776–), Lionel
Sir Lionel Smith, 1st Baronet
General Sir Lionel Smith, 1st Baronet GCB GCH was a British diplomat, colonial administrator, and soldier.His mother was noted writer and feminist Charlotte Turner Smith....

 (1778–1842), Harriet (c. 1782–), and George (c.1785–). Only six of Smith's children survived her.

Smith assisted in the family business that her husband had abandoned by helping Richard Smith with his correspondence. She convinced Richard to set Benjamin up as a gentleman farmer in Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

 and lived with him at Lys Farm from 1774 until 1783. Worried about Charlotte's future and that of his grandchildren and concerned that his son would continue his irresponsible ways, Richard Smith willed the majority of his property to Charlotte's children. However, because he had drawn up the will himself, the documents contained legal problems. The inheritance, originally worth nearly £36,000, was tied up in chancery
Court of Chancery
The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of...

 after his death in 1776 for almost forty years. Smith and her children saw little of it. In fact, Benjamin illegally spent at least a third of it and ended up in King's Bench Prison
King's Bench Prison
The King's Bench Prison was a prison in Southwark, south London, from medieval times until it closed in 1880. It took its name from the King's Bench court of law in which cases of defamation, bankruptcy and other misdemeanours were heard; as such, the prison was often used as a debtor's prison...

 in December 1783. Smith moved in with him and it was in this environment that she wrote and published her first work, Elegiac Sonnets (1784). Elegiac Sonnets achieved instant success, allowing Charlotte to pay for their release from prison. Smith's sonnet
Sonnet
A sonnet is one of several forms of poetry that originate in Europe, mainly Provence and Italy. A sonnet commonly has 14 lines. The term "sonnet" derives from the Occitan word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning "little song" or "little sound"...

s helped initiate a revival of the form and granted an aura of respectability to her later novels (poetry was considered the highest art form at the time). Smith revised Elegiac Poems several times over the years, eventually creating a two-volume work.

Novelist



After Benjamin Smith was released from prison, the entire family moved to Dieppe, France to avoid further creditors. Charlotte returned to negotiate with them, but failed to come to an agreement. She went back to France and in 1784 began translating works from French into English. In 1787 she published The Romance of Real Life, consisting of translated selections from François Gayot de Pitaval
François Gayot de Pitaval
François Gayot de Pitaval was a French advocate.He compiled a famous collection of causes célèbres.-Works:* Causes célèbres et intéressantes, avec les jugemens qui les ont décidées...

's trials. She was forced to withdraw her other translation, Manon Lescaut, after it was argued that the work was immoral and plagiarized. In 1786, she published it anonymously.

In 1785, the family returned to England and moved to Wollbeding House near Midhurst
Midhurst
Midhurst is a market town and civil parish in the Chichester district of West Sussex, England, with a population of 4,889 in 2001. The town is situated on the River Rother and is home to the ruin of the Tudor Cowdray House and the stately Victorian Cowdray Park...

, Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

. Smith's relationship with her husband did not improve and on 15 April 1787, after twenty-two years of marriage, she left him. She wrote that she might “have been contented to reside in the same house with him”, had not “his temper been so capricious and often so cruel” that her “life was not safe”. When Charlotte left Benjamin, she did not secure a legal agreement that would protect her profits—he would have access to them under English primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

 laws. Smith knew that her children's future rested on a successful settlement of the lawsuit over her father-in-law's will, therefore she made every effort to earn enough money to fund the suit and retain the family's genteel status.

Smith claimed the position of gentlewoman, signing herself "Charlotte Smith of Bignor Park" on the title page of Elegiac Sonnets. All of her works were published under her own name, "a daring decision" for a woman at the time. Her success as a poet allowed her to make this choice. Throughout her career, Smith identified herself as a poet. Although she published far more prose than poetry and her novels brought her more money and fame, she believed poetry would bring her respectability. As Sarah Zimmerman explains in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, "She prized her verse for the role it gave her as a private woman whose sorrows were submitted only reluctantly to the public."

After separating from her husband, Smith moved to a town near Chichester and decided to write novels, as they would make her more money than poetry. Her first novel, Emmeline
Emmeline
Emmeline, The Orphan of the Castle is the first novel published by English writer Charlotte Turner Smith. A Cinderella story in which the heroine stands outside the traditional economic structures of English society and ends up wealthy and happy, the novel is a fantasy...

(1788), was a success, selling 1500 copies within months. She wrote nine more novels in the next ten years: Ethelinde (1789), Celestina
Celestina (novel)
Celestina is an eighteenth-century English novel and poet Charlotte Turner Smith’s third novel. Published in 1791 by Thomas Cadell, the novel tells the story of an adopted orphan who discovers the secret of her parentage and marries the man she loves...

(1791), Desmond
Desmond (novel)
Desmond is a novel by Charlotte Turner Smith. The novel focuses on politics during the French Revolution....

(1792), The Old Manor House (1793), The Wanderings of Warwick (1794), The Banished Man (1794), Montalbert (1795), Marchmont (1796), and The Young Philosopher (1798). Smith began her career as a novelist during the 1780s at a time when women's fiction was expected to focus on romance and to foreground "a chaste and flawless heroine subjected to repeated melodramatic distresses until reinstated in society by the virtuous hero". Although Smith's novels employed this structure, they also incorporated political commentary, particularly support of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, through the voices of male characters. At times, she challenged the typical romance plot by including "narratives of female desire" or "tales of females suffering despotism". Smith's novels contributed to the development of Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Gothicism's origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story"...

 and the novel of sensibility
Sensibility
Sensibility refers to an acute perception of or responsiveness toward something, such as the emotions of another. This concept emerged in eighteenth-century Britain, and was closely associated with studies of sense perception as the means through which knowledge is gathered...

.

Smith's novels are autobiographical. While a common device at the time, Antje Blank writes in The Literary Encyclopedia
The Literary Encyclopedia
The Literary Encyclopedia is an online reference work first published in October 2000 which, as of May 2008, offers freely available content together with full content and services for subscribing members. Articles are written by "nearly 2000 named scholars, most of whom are current university...

, "few exploited fiction's potential of self-representation with such determination as Smith". For example, Mr. and Mrs. Stafford in Emmeline are portraits of Charlotte and Benjamin. The prefaces to Smith's novels told the story of her own struggles, including the deaths of several of her children. According to Zimmerman, "Smith mourned most publicly for her daughter Anna Augusta, who married an émigré...and died aged twenty in 1795." Smith's prefaces positioned her as both a suffering sentimental heroine as well as a vocal critic of the laws that kept her and her children in poverty.
Smith's experiences prompted her to argue for legal reforms that would grant women more rights, making the case for these reforms through her novels. Smith's stories showed the "legal, economic, and sexual exploitation" of women by marriage and property laws. Initially readers were swayed by her arguments and writers such as William Cowper
William Cowper
William Cowper was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry...

 patronized her. However, as the years passed, readers became exhausted by Smith's stories of struggle and inequality. Public opinion shifted towards the view of poet Anna Seward
Anna Seward
Anna Seward was an English Romantic poet, often called the Swan of Lichfield.-Life:Seward was the elder daughter of Thomas Seward , prebendary of Lichfield and Salisbury, and author...

, who argued that Smith was "vain" and "indelicate" for exposing her husband to "public contempt".

Smith moved frequently due to financial concerns and declining health. During the last twenty years of her life, she lived in: Chichester, Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

, Storrington
Storrington
Storrington is a village in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England, and one of two in the civil parish of Storrington and Sullington. Storrington lies at the foot of the north side of the South Downs. As of 2006 the village has a population of around 4,600. It has one main shopping street...

, Bath, Exmouth
Exmouth
Exmouth is a town in Devon. It may also refer to:Places*Exmouth Peninsula in Southern Chile*Exmouth, Western AustraliaPeople*Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth , a British naval officerShips...

, Weymouth, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, London, Frant
Frant
-Demography:The population of Frant rose steadily from just under 1,100 in 1801 to a peak in 1891 of around 3,500. The records show a marked drop to 1,692 in 1901, but this is due to the transfer of the Broadwater Down parish to Tunbridge Wells that took place in 1894...

, and Elstead
Elstead
Elstead is a village in Surrey, England, with shops and cottages mainly clustered around a central green, close to the River Wey. Neighbouring villages include Gatwick , Puttenham, Charleshill and Peper Harow...

. She eventually settled at Tilford
Tilford
Tilford is a small village about two miles south of Farnham in Surrey, England. It lies within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty- History :The name "Tilford" is probably derived from "Tila's ford" or "Tilla's ford"....

, Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

.

Smith became involved with English radicals
Radicalism (historical)
The term Radical was used during the late 18th century for proponents of the Radical Movement. It later became a general pejorative term for those favoring or seeking political reforms which include dramatic changes to the social order...

 while she was living in Brighton from 1791 to 1793. Like them, she supported the French Revolution and its republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 principles. Her epistolary novel
Epistolary novel
An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use...

 Desmond tells the story of a man who journeys to revolutionary France and is convinced of the rightness of the revolution and contends that England should be reformed as well. The novel was published in June 1792, a year before France and England went to war
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 and before the Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

 began, which shocked the British public, turning them against the revolutionaries. Like many radicals, Smith criticized the French, but she still endorsed the original ideals of the revolution. In order to support her family, Smith had to sell her works, thus she was eventually forced to, as Blank explains, "tone down the radicalism that had characterised the authorial voice in Desmond and adopt more oblique techniques to express her libertarian ideals". She therefore set her next novel, The Old Manor House (1793), during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, which allowed her to discuss democratic reform without directly addressing the French situation. However, in her last novel, The Young Philosopher (1798), Smith wrote a final piece of "outspoken radical fiction". Smith's protagonist leaves Britain for America, as there is no hope for a reform in Britain.

The Old Manor House is "frequently deemed [Smith's] best" novel for its sentimental
Sentimentalism
Sentimentalism is used in different ways:* Sentimentalism , a theory in moral epistemology concerning how one knows moral truths; also known as moral sense theory* Sentimentalism , a form of literary discourse...

 themes and development of minor characters. Novelist Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

 labeled it as such and poet and critic Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld was a prominent English poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and children's author.A "woman of letters" who published in multiple genres, Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when female professional writers were rare...

 chose it for her anthology of The British Novelists (1810). As a successful novelist and poet, Smith communicated with famous artists and thinkers of the day, including musician Charles Burney
Charles Burney
Charles Burney FRS was an English music historian and father of authors Frances Burney and Sarah Burney.-Life and career:...

 (father of Frances Burney), poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

, scientist and poet Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin was an English physician who turned down George III's invitation to be a physician to the King. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave trade abolitionist,inventor and poet...

, lawyer and radical Thomas Erskine
Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine
Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine KT PC KC was a British lawyer and politician. He served as Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents.-Background and childhood:...

, novelist Mary Hays
Mary Hays
Mary Hays was an English novelist and feminist.- Early years :Mary Hays was born in Southwark, London on Oct. 13, 1759. Almost nothing is known of her first 17 years. In 1779 she fell in love with John Eccles who lived on Gainsford Street, where she also lived. Their parents opposed the match but...

, playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was an Irish-born playwright and poet and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For thirty-two years he was also a Whig Member of the British House of Commons for Stafford , Westminster and Ilchester...

, and poet Robert Southey
Robert Southey
Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843...

. A wide array of periodicals reviewed her works, including the Anti-Jacobin Review
Anti-Jacobin Review
The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor , a conservative British political periodical, was founded by John Gifford [pseud. of John Richards Green] after the demise of William Gifford's The Anti-Jacobin, or, Weekly Examiner...

, the Analytical Review
Analytical Review
The Analytical Review was a periodical established in London in 1788 by the publisher Joseph Johnson and the writer Thomas Christie. Part of the Republic of Letters, it was a gadfly publication, which offered readers summaries and analyses of the many new publications issued at the end of the...

, the British Critic
British Critic
The British Critic: A New Review was a quarterly publication, established in 1793 as a conservative and high church review journal riding the tide of British reaction against the French Revolution.-High church review:...

, The Critical Review
The Critical Review
The Critical Review was first edited by Tobias Smollett from 1756 to 1763, and was contributed to by Samuel Johnson, David Hume, John Hunter, and Oliver Goldsmith, until 1817....

, the European Magazine, the Gentleman's Magazine, the Monthly Magazine, and the Universal Magazine.

Smith earned the most money between 1787 and 1798, after which she was no longer as popular; several reasons have been suggested for the public's declining interest in Smith, including "a corresponding erosion of the quality of her work after so many years of literary labour, an eventual waning of readerly interest as she published, on average, one work per year for twenty-two years, and a controversy that attached to her public profile" as she wrote about the French revolution. Both radical and conservative periodicals criticized her novels about the revolution. Her insistence on pursuing the lawsuit over Richard Smith's inheritance lost her several patrons. Also, her increasingly blunt prefaces made her less appealing to the public.

In order to continue earning money, Smith began writing in less politically charged genres. She published a collection of tales, Letters of a Solitary Wanderer (1801–02) and the play What Is She? (1799, attributed). Her most successful new foray was into children's literature: Rural Walks (1795), Rambles Farther (1796), Minor Morals (1798), and Conversations Introducing Poetry (1804). She also wrote two volumes of a history of England (1806) and A Natural History of Birds (1807, posthumous). She also returned to writing poetry and Beachy Head and Other Poems (1807) was published posthumously. Publishers did not pay as much for these works, however, and by 1803, Smith was poverty-stricken. She could barely afford food and had no coal. She even sold her beloved library of 500 books in order to pay off debts, but feared being sent to jail for the remaining £20.

Illness and death


Smith complained of gout
Gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

 for many years (it was probably rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

), which made it increasingly difficult and painful for her to write. By the end of her life, it had almost paralyzed her. She wrote to a friend that she was "literally vegetating, for I have very little locomotive powers beyond those that appertain to a cauliflower". On 23 February 1806, her husband died in a debtors' prison and Smith finally received some of the money he owed her, but she was too ill to do anything with it. She died a few months later, on 28 October 1806, at Tilford
Tilford
Tilford is a small village about two miles south of Farnham in Surrey, England. It lies within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty- History :The name "Tilford" is probably derived from "Tila's ford" or "Tilla's ford"....

 and was buried at Stoke Church, Stoke Park
Stoke Park
Stoke Park is a large park situated close to the town centre of Guildford, Surrey, England. Bought by the local council from Lord Onslow in 1925 to prevent future building work and "remain for all time a lung of the town", Stoke Park is the site of the annual music festival GuilFest, and was home...

, near Guildford
Guildford
Guildford is the county town of Surrey. England, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region...

. The lawsuit over her father-in-law's estate was settled seven years later, on 22 April 1813, more than thirty-six years after Richard Smith's death.

Legacy


Stuart Curran, the editor of Smith's poems, has written that Smith is "the first poet in England whom in retrospect we would call Romantic". She helped shape the "patterns of thought and conventions of style" for the period. Romantic poet
Romantic poetry
Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-1700s as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day , also influenced poetry...

 William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

 was the most affected by her works. He said of Smith in the 1830s that she was "a lady to whom English verse is under greater obligations than are likely to be either acknowledged or remembered". By the second half of the 19th century, Smith was largely forgotten.

Smith's novels were republished again at the end of the 20th century, and "critics interested in the period's women poets and prose writers, the Gothic novel, the historical novel, the social problem novel, and post-colonial studies" have argued for her significance as a writer. They looked to the contemporary documentation of her importance, discovering that she helped to revitalize the English sonnet, a fact recognized by Coleridge and others. Scott wrote that she "preserves in her landscapes the truth and precision of a painter" and poet and Barbauld claimed that Smith was the first to include sustained natural description in novels.

It was not until 2008 however, that Smith's entire prose collection became available to the general public. The edition contains each novel, the children's stories and rural walks.

Poetry

  • Elegiac Sonnets (1784)
  • The Emigrants (1793)
  • Beachy Head and Other Poems (1807)

Novels

  • Emmeline; or The Orphan of the Castle
    Emmeline
    Emmeline, The Orphan of the Castle is the first novel published by English writer Charlotte Turner Smith. A Cinderella story in which the heroine stands outside the traditional economic structures of English society and ends up wealthy and happy, the novel is a fantasy...

    (1788)
  • Ethelinde; or the Recluse of the Lake (1789)
  • Celestina
    Celestina (novel)
    Celestina is an eighteenth-century English novel and poet Charlotte Turner Smith’s third novel. Published in 1791 by Thomas Cadell, the novel tells the story of an adopted orphan who discovers the secret of her parentage and marries the man she loves...

    (1791)
  • Desmond
    Desmond (novel)
    Desmond is a novel by Charlotte Turner Smith. The novel focuses on politics during the French Revolution....

    (1792)
  • The Old Manor House (1793)
  • The Wanderings of Warwick (1794)
  • The Banished Man (1794)
  • Montalbert (1795)
  • Marchmont (1796)
  • The Young Philosopher (1798)

Educational works

  • Rural Walks (1795)
  • Rambles Farther (1796)
  • Minor Morals (1798)
  • Conversations Introducing Poetry (1800)
  • Letters Of A Solitary Wanderer (1801–02)

External links





Works