Newsletter of the Elizabeth Craven Society 2019

It has been an eventful year for the Elizabeth Craven Society.

On January 19th 2019, a reading was held of Craven's play The Miniature Picture, at the play-reading group of Dr Lois Potter in London University. For many, this was their first acquaintance with the play and with Elizabeth Craven. It was a very jolly occasion. The general verdict is that this
is still a performable play, whose comedy would amuse a modern audience, and whose feminist ideas come over very clearly.

Other highlights have included the discovery of two hitherto unknown works by Elizabeth Craven, including the full-length novel The Witch and the Maid of Honour, which is written about here on my blog:-

The other work, never before studied by any critic or attributed to her in bibliographies, is Pleasant Pastime for a Christmas Evening, written about on my blog here:-…

Elizabeth Craven (1750-1828) Complete Bibliography

Elizabeth Craven's works are a lot more numerous than usually supposed. She never made a complete list of them in her Memoirs, which is a pity. Very few are mentioned in the DNB entry under her name. This is the most complete catalogue that I have so far been able to compile. 

Abdoul, a comedy, printed in Nouveau Theatre de Societe d'Anspac et de Triesdorf, ed. Asimont, Volume 2, 1791.
A Fashionable Day [by Giuseppe Parini, translated from the Italian with an introduction and commentary by E. Craven]London: G. Kearsley and R. Faulder, 1780.
An Arcadian Pastoral. 1782. MS in Bodleian Library. Epilogue was printed in Robert Dodsley, ed., The Annual Register, or a View of the history, politicks and literature of 1782, p.200. Also in The Hibernian Magazine, Or, Compendium of Entertaining Knowledge, 1782 p.271.
Diane, or, Repentir des Voeux. Ballet en un Acte, avex des Arriettes. One-Act Ballet with some poetry. Text in French. Nouveau Theatre de Societe d'Anspac et de Triesdorf,

Further Adventures of Henrietta, Lady Grosvenor

Henrietta Vernon, Lady Grosvenor, by Thomas Gainsborough
When a Georgian woman got divorced, she was supposed to disappear into a twilight of disgrace and social disapproval. At the end of Mansfield Park, this happens to Maria Bertram, who elopes with Henry Crawford, is divorced by her husband Mr Rushworth, and ends up banished from England to live somewhere abroad "remote and private".

But did she really have such a terrible fate? I sometimes imagine that Maria Rushworth had a whale of a time in Paris or Brussels, far away from Mansfield Park. The life of Henrietta, Lady Grosvenor, suggests that divorce was not always such a disaster. There was in fact a flourishing Alternative Society in Georgian England, within which such women lived with impunity and they were very much in the public eye.

Miss Caroline Vernon c.1780 by François-Xavier Vispré from National Trust  collection, Attingham Park, Shropshire, the home of her sister Anna.
Henrietta, Lady Grosvenor, was the eldest sis…

Dangerous Liaisons: The Wicked Earl of Berkeley

Elizabeth Craven's elder brother, Frederick, 5th Earl of Berkeley, was one of the most eligible men in England. Clever, cultivated and well-travelled, owner of vast estates that included Berkeley Square in London and an ancestral castle, he was often busy running the Gloucester militia, which played an essential role in the defence of the kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. He loved to wear the scarlet coat that proclaimed him colonel of this militia, the coat he is wearing in this portrait painted of him as a young man by Pompeo Batoni. And what a handsome young man he is.

The 5th Earl was also an infamous Georgian rake, one of the most dastardly libertines who ever ensnared an innocent female. He could have added lustre to his family name, but instead he made it notorious for all the wrong reasons. The scandal lingered on long after his death and had immense repercussions. 

He really deserves to be classed along with the Lovelaces, Valmonts, Squire Thornhills, Willoughbys and Wick…

The Residence of the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach at Ansbach

The Margrave of Ansbach, who became Elizabeth Craven's second husband, owned some palatial residences, far too palatial for him to live in them most of the time. He preferred to live more modestly.

The Margrave Charles-Alexander of Ansbach from

In the years before his abdication he used a former hunting lodge, The Red Castle, as his home.

The palace at Ansbach, the capital of his little principality, survives and is well-preserved. It is now in Bavaria. This video gives a visual tour of its interiors, showing the fine collection of pictures and artworks. Can you spot the portrait of Elizabeth Craven that flashes into view for just a second or so?

Copy the link into your browser address bar to watch the video.

To find out more about Elizabeth Craven, her writings and the people she knew, read
Now available on E…

Elizabeth Craven and the Marquis d'Argens

What possible connection could there be between Elizabeth Craven, the Georgian feminist writer, and the Marquis d'Argens, the French writer and philosopher? Craven was born in 1750, and d'Argens died in 1771, and as far as is known they never met. Both were writers, both went to Constantinople and both were considered to have misbehaved extensively in the course of their lives. Both loved the theatre, and and both spent part of their lives in a German court, running the theatrical entertainments.

King Frederick II of Prussia and the Marquis d'Argens  by Johan Christoph Frisch
D'Argens worked for many years for King Frederick the Great of Prussia, holding the post of Chamberlain which made him responsible for court entertainments such as theatre and opera. He was expected to organize troupes of professional actors, singers and dancers to put on productions in King Frederick's rather grand opera houses and palaces of Sans-Souci and Charlottenburg.

Sans-Souci Palace, Pot…

An Arcadian Pastoral: A Musical Entertainment by Elizabeth Craven and William Beckford

In 1782 Elizabeth Craven and the brilliant but wayward young writer William Beckford collaborated on a musical entertainment called An Arcadian Pastoral. It was performed in London by a choir of children, with professional musicians taking the solos and providing orchestral accompaniment.

No 1 Ouverture

The score was preserved among Beckford's papers, and catalogued by the Bodleian Library under his name, without reference to Elizabeth Craven. In a letter of 1782, Beckford wrote that she had written the words and he had composed the music. When we look closely at the score, it actually says that Elizabeth Craven wrote the music too, for the second of its five Acts. This is not the only example of her writing music, though little of it survives.

The items of the Pastoral are numbered, but number 8 is missing. However, it may not be lost entirely. In a letter she enclosed a words of a song about Cupid and Hymen for which she wrote both the words and music, and which had o…