Cover to Cover

Eliza Haywood: Writer and Publisher

I mentioned Eliza Haywood in a previous blog post as she is credited with being the first woman to make a living from writing.  There is very little evidence to  show the existence of a  Mr. Haywood  but records do mention that she had two children and that her first endeavour to provide for them was as an actress on stage in Dublin. 

At an unknown date she is found in London where she became a literary figure, initially writing plays, then novels and eventually becoming a publisher.

The Female Spectator was produced every month in book form from April 1744 until May 1746 and was loosely modelled on The Spectator begun by  Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in 1711.

The Female Spectator reported exclusively from a woman’s point of view, covering subjects such as love and marriage, manners, morals and etiquette, but never news, as Haywood decided that there were plenty of newspapers keeping men in the Coffee Houses.

I own a 1929 copy of a selection of articles first published as periodicals in 1748.  In this book, the bound pages are fairly thick and very roughly cut which,  I think, gives it a feel for the period in which The Female Spectator  was published.

The 1929 illustrations add to its charm.  I was unable to find much information on the internet about the named illustrator, Constance Rowlands, except references to copies of second hand books which she illustrated.

I found the image (above left)  on, which reminded me of the heading for one of the articles in the  book I own  (above right).  There are quite a few second-hand books on sale where Constance Rowlands is named as the illustrator – all first published in the nineteen twenties and many of them tales from Ancient East Asia.  If you look closely at Jane (the tortoise), she appears to be wearing a kimono and getta (wooden shoes) beneath her shell.

I digress….. Back to The Female Spectator….

The letter continues…

…… No wonder the men of sense disregard us, and the dissolute triumph over that virtue they ought to protect.    

And then goes on to state that … It is commonly the fault of a wrong education, which makes them frequently do amiss,….. 

And ends the letter …… Ladies,

                                         Your constant reader,

                                        And humble servant,


Some of the headings in the book are priceless.  For example:

 Equality between the Sexes Dreaded             Tennis, a Manly Exercise

 Ermina, How Ruined                                     Effeminacy in the Army

all written nearly three hundred years ago.

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