© 1998

Charlotte Smith

A Critical Biography

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 1-4
  3. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 5-77
  4. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 78-128
  5. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 129-206
  6. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 207-259
  7. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 260-302
  8. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 303-317
  9. Loraine Fletcher
    Pages 318-341
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 342-401

About this book


'Sold, a legal prostitute' when married off at the age of fifteen, Charlotte Smith left her wastrel husband to support herself and their children as a poet and novelist who would have a lasting influence on William Wordsworth and Jane Austen. Combative and witty she became a radical, controversial and very popular author: at a time when the French Revolution was raising high hopes of Reform, she argued for change in England too. Loraine Fletcher's vivid scholarly biography is as readable for the newcomer to the 1790s as for the specialist, tracing the embattled life in the wonderfully self-dramatising fiction.


argue biography drama England exile fiction French French revolution Jane Austen knowledge poet reform time William Wordsworth Wordsworth

About the authors

LORAINE FLETCHER is a Lecturer in the Department of English, University of Reading. She was born in Somerset, grew up on Friday Hill Council Estate in Chingford and went to Woodford County High School and Reading University. She has taught all her adult life in schools, at evening classes as a private tutor, at Stanford University's base in England and currently in the English Department at Reading University. She has lived in America for over eleven years at various times and places from the sixties to the eighties. She took her MA at Arizona State University and her PhD at Birkbeck. She is the widow of the poet and 1890s scholar Ian Fletcher, has two daughters and lives in Reading.

Bibliographic information


'Fletcher's biography is as compulsive as any novel, and it makes the reader simply long to read, and experience the redoubtable Mrs Smith at first hand.' - Kate Saunders, New Statesman

'...a substantial contribution to studies of women in the 'Romantic' period, lively in its detail, wide-ranging in its argument; seeing Smith as a significant judge of her own turbulent times, and as an influence on her literary successors.' - Times Literary Supplement

'two aspects from a biography in which there is so much to praise. An undisguised partiality wafts from the pages like a breath of fresh air amid the stuffiness of academia. Second, Fletcher's analyses of the novels are some of the most valuable pieces of criticism ever written on Smith.' - Paul Jarman, The Independent