The serial fiction in the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1848) is often novel-length, anonymous and absorbing. I began writing this blog about one of the serials that I found particularly engrossing, Memoirs of a Young Lady, intending to point out its originality and praise its writing style and plot. But (perhaps inevitably) as I began researching the serial for the blog in an attempt to uncover any information beyond its publication dates in the magazine, I made a very interesting discovery.
Published from April 1783 through November 1786, the serial entertained readers for over 3.5 years. The anonymous novel, never signed in any of its over 40 installments, has – like most of the fiction in the periodical – remained largely unknown and unstudied.
The novel follows the heroine, Lucretia Bertie, as she navigates her way through the constant persecutions of the primary villain, lord Belton, and his wife, her former friend Sophia. Sophia’s jealousy of Lucretia, inflamed by her husband’s infatuation with the heroine, drives her to devise increasingly vicious plots against her. One of these plots involves hiring her former footman, William, to attempt to force Lucretia into a marriage with him. The footman, posing as a wealthy gentleman, attempts (and fails) …read more