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ELIZA HAYWOOD. 1693? - 1756. Biography. - Born Elizabeth Fowler -Was likely married between 1714-1719 -Had two illegitimate children -Was linked romantically to Richard Savage and William Hatchett . Why don't we know more about her life?.

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1693? - 1756



-Born Elizabeth Fowler

-Was likely married between 1714-1719

-Had two illegitimate children

-Was linked romantically to Richard Savage and William Hatchett


Why don't we know more about her life?

This is possibly the result of a request on her death bed to “a particular Person, who was well acquainted with all the Particulars of it, not to communicate to any one the least Circumstance relating to her” (Ballaster, Seductive Forms 159)‏


We do know that Haywood produced over 40 works of fiction, four translations, a biography, multiple plays, a history of the stage, seven periodicals, numerous poems and pamphlets and two collected editions of her works.

  • (Fowler, “A Woman Writing Among Men”, 1.)‏


Alexander Pope wrote about Haywood in his poem

The Dunciad

See in the circle next, Eliza plac'd; Two babes of love close clinging to her waste;Fair as before her works she stands confess'd, In flow'rs and pearls by bounteous Kirkall dress'd. The Goddess then: "Who best can send on high “The salient spout, far-streaming to the sky: “His be yon Juno of majestic size, “With cow like udders, and with ox-like eyes.

Pope takes the focus off of her writing and into her personal life by proclaiming her two children to be illegitimate.



Richard Savage also wrote

about Haywood in

The Authors of the Town 1725 :

“A Cast off Dame, who of intrigues can judge,

Writes Scandal in Romance --- A Printer's Drudge!

Flush'd with Success, for Stage-Renown she pants,

And melts, and swells, and pens luxurious Rants.”


Women In The 18th Century

  • Eighteenth-Century Women were living in a time of great female suppression that demanded limited, frivolous education for females and discouraged female sexuality.
  • Daniel Defoe’s novel Moll Flanders accurately portrays women’s education as learning accomplishments such as music, reading, writing, French, and dancing (Defoe 54)'splates/louisxv.jpg


Women of the 18th Century

Mary Wollstonecraft

  • Recognized as one of the first feminists,
  • Wrote AVindication of the Rights of Woman, which spoke against this frivolous education:
  • …that the instruction which women have hitherto received has only tended, with the constitution of civil society, to render them insignificant objects of desire—mere propagators of fools!—if it can be proved that in aiming to accomplish them, without cultivating their understandings, they are taken out of their spheres of duties, and made ridiculous and useless when the short-lived bloom of beauty is over… (Wollstonecraft 173)‏


Wollstonecraft went against top thinkers of her day like Rousseau, whom Wollstonecraft stated he believed “that a woman should never for a moment, feel herself independent, that she should be governed by fear to exercise her natural cunning, and made a coquetish slave in order to render her a more alluring object of desire, a sweeter companion to man…” (Wollstonecraft 179).


18th Century Women and the Sexual Double Standard

  • Eighteenth-Century women were expected to be virtuous or sexually chaste, although the men of this time period were not held to this expectation:

“…the conduct expected of women as virgins, wives, and widows rested on the assumption that sexual desire was proper to the male and unbecoming to the female” (Brophy 27).


“While a wife must be above reproach, she must tolerate, even expect, a much lower order of conduct from her husband, both in sexual promiscuity and in other masculine prerogatives such as drunkenness” (Brophy 11).

  • If, within a marriage, a woman realized that her husband was cheating on her, during this time period a woman was to treat her husband with patience and gentleness, but if this same situation was reversed, death was a fit punishment for the woman (Brophy 11).

It was during this period of female suppression that Eliza Haywood wrote Fantomina

summary of fantomina
Summary of Fantomina
  • A tale of an unnamed young gentlewoman’s seduction of the gentleman Beauplaisir
  • 4 seductive personas:
    • Fantomina… Prostitute
    • Celia… Chamber Maid
    • Widow Bloomer… Woman In Mourning
    • The Fair Incognita… never allows him to see her face
  • Her deceptions catch up with her… She gets pregnant, her mother discovers her affairs, and she is sent to a convent.

how was she able to trick one that was so intimately acquainted with her person
How was she able to trick one that was so intimately “acquainted” with her person??
  • “…she was so admirably skill’d in the Art of feigning, that she had the Power of putting on almost what Face she pleas’d, and knew so exactly how to form her Behaviour to the Character she represented, that all the Comedians at both Playhouses are infinitely short of her performances…” (Demaria 722).
  • In short… She was a very good actress!


Haywood’s structure in Fantomina

  • Robert Scholes explains the common structure of the novel as the following: “…the sophisticated forms of fiction, as in the sophisticated practice of sex, much of the art consists of delaying climax within the framework of desire in order to prolong the pleasurable act itself”. (175)‏
  • Haywood contrasts this male model of fiction, with a fiction based upon the “feminised structure of multiple climaxes”. (Potter, 175)‏


  • A representation of Societal injustices

- women betrayed into prostitution by manipulative men

- servant girls seduced and ruined by the men they work for

- wronged widows, left for destitution


anti feminist or feminist
This defeatist and anti-feminist view of Fantomina can be contradicted in the notion that in punishing the heroine, Haywood employs a literary technique that “While the disapproving rhetoric that surrounds oppositional, subversive, or inflammatory statements ostensibly disarms them, those statements are themselves nevertheless conveyed verbatim to the reader who is the ultimate arbiter and who absorbs them in any case” (Behrendt 30).Anti-Feminist or Feminist
  • Many critics have argued that the punishment of Fantomina at the end of Haywood’s novella has conformed this book to the Eighteenth-Century gender bias that male promiscuity is acceptable but female promiscuity must be punished:
  • “… ‘in the melancholy reiteration of female defeat at the hands of the fictionalizing male libertine’, Fantomina provides only a temporary respite from the ultimate persecution necessarily awaiting the seduced maiden” (Croskery 25).
what haywood s communicating
What Haywood’s Communicating
  • “In Fantomina Haywood confirms the anti-essentialist construction of femininity hinted at so consistently throughout her career, demonstrating, through her most sexually disruptive female character, women’s capacity to manipulate and control the signs by which her social, economic and sexual position as woman is perceived and constructed by the public majority.” (Potter, 176-177)‏
Haywood’s empowering of Fantomina with reason and rational action instead of hysterical fits makes her “…the female equivalent to Haywood’s male rakes, who assume a series of different identities to court their mistresses and avert the possibility of discovery” (Ballaster, “Preparations to Love” 60).
  • “Her Design was once more to engage him, to hear him sigh, to see him languish, to feel the strenuous Pressures of his eager Arms, to be compelled, to be sweetly forc’d to what she wished with equal Ardour, was what she wanted, and what she had form’d a Stratagem to obtain, in which she promis’d herself Success” (Demaria 719).
In a time when women were treated like infidels, Fantomina recognizes she has outsmarted Beauplaisir and congratulates herself on her victory over him: “But I have outwitted even the most Subtle of the deceiving Kind, and while he thinks to fool me, is himself the only beguiled Person” (Demaria 722).



  • 1st photo
  • 2nd Photo of R.S
  • 3rd photo of A>P.
  • Ballastar, Ros. Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” The Norton Anthology: English Literature Vol.D. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2006. 170-195.
  • Behrendt, Stephen C. Introduction. Zastrozzi. By Percy Bysshe Shelley. 1810. Ed. Stephen C. Behrendt. Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd. 2002.
  • Brophy, Elizabeth Bergen. Women’s Lives and the 18th-Century English Novel. Tampa: University of South Florida Press, 1991.
  • Croskery, Margaret Case, and Anna C. Patchias. Introduction. Fantomina. By Eliza Haywood. 1725. Ed. Pettit, Croskery, & Patchias. Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd. 2004.
  • Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. Ed. Paul A. Scanlon. Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd. 2005.