Elizabeth Craven and Grace Dalrymple Elliott

We know for a fact that Elizabeth Craven was personally acquainted with Grace Dalrymple Elliott, the Scottish beauty who was famed in her lifetime for many reasons, not least for being at various times the mistress of the English Prince of Wales and of the French Duc d'OrlĂ©ans.  If those two great connoisseurs of female beauty both paid homage to her, we can be certain that Grace was really very attractive and the portraits are not misleading.

In this portrait by Gainsborough, Grace emphasizes her magnolia-white skin by wearing a black ribbon tied under the chin and trailing down her long neck into the bosom.

Grace Elliott and Elizabeth Craven had a common acquaintance with George, Earl of Cholmondeley, the wealthy playboy who is said to have fathered one of Grace's children. They moved in the same circles. Yet Craven does not mention Grace Elliott in her Memoirs, nor does Grace Elliott mention Craven in hers. This leads to the conclusion that the two women probably did not li…

The Georgian Mile High Club, or Love in a Balloon

Who started the Mile High Club? Maybe you think that this is a twentieth century idea. Until recently, so did I. Aeroplanes were invented in the early twentieth century and quite soon after they were invented somebody came up with the idea of the Mile High Club. Sex in the stratosphere sounded like an original idea for adventurous people and so much more exciting than just a hotel bedroom. Of course that was before seat belts were made compulsory.

But it seems the Mile High Club was invented in Georgian times by the Earl of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chum-ley) one of the most notorious rakes and libertines of Elizabeth Craven's time. She undoubtedly knew him - she mentioned him in her Memoirs - and he mixed in the circles of the supreme rake, Georgie-Porgie the Prince of Wales.

Good-looking, clever and immensely wealthy, the young Lord Cholmondeley was notorious for womanizing and at one time was the lover of one of the most remarkable - and talked-about -  women of the era, Grace Da…

The Witch, and the Maid of Honour: A Lost Novel by Elizabeth Craven

The Witch and the Maid of Honour is a two-volume novel published privately and anonymously in London in 1799. It has a dedication to the Maids of Honour, signed "the Old Woman".


The writer of the following trifle requests the honour of presenting to you the History of a Lady who formerly held the same exalted situation that you hold now. Permit Isabella Markham to solicit your patronage for the Author, who has the honour of being,

                         With great respect,

                                        Your obedient humble Servant,

                                                                   The OLD WOMAN.

                                                                                    Maj i, 1799.

So, unless there is some hidden jest, whoever wrote it is apparently a woman. The Dedication is followed by a mock preface that refers in a light-hearted way to John Locke's Essay Upon the Human Understanding. Then the novel b…

Paperback edition of Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European

The book Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European, is now available in paperback:

To mark the availability of the paperback edition the publishers are offering a limited-time 30% discount for orders placed through their website. To obtain the discount please enter the following coupon code at checkout: VNCJFUDBHA
The offer expires in 60 days.

Elizabeth Craven: Myths and Fallacies

We've all come across articles we disagree with from time to time but some are just so inaccurate that the unwary public needs to be warned against them.

       Elisabetta Marino's article "Constructing the Other: Reconstructing Herself" - A Journey Through the Crimea to Constantinople by Lady Elizabeth Craven" in the book The West in Asia and Asia in the West: Essays on Transnational Interactions, edited by herself and Tanfer Emin Tunc (1)  is one of these. It is very inaccurate indeed.

      The blurb claims, "This collection of new essays examines the “transnational turn” in cultural studies between Asia and the West. Drawing on literature, history, culture, film and media studies, scholars from a range of disciplines explore the constructs of “Asia” and “the West” and their cultural collision."  Hmmm. Well, most of the collision I can find is with the facts.

       I will not carp too much about the assumption that Turkey is part of Asia - a…

The Influence of Elizabeth Craven on Jane Austen

There can be no doubt that Jane Austen was influenced in many ways by the writings of Elizabeth Craven, the Georgian feminist writer who was her predecessor.

In my book Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European, I have already pointed out the resemblance between a famous scene in Mansfield Park, and a passage in Craven's book Letters to Her Son. On the topic of marriage, Craven writes that women have the same instinctive urge to be free that men have, and whenever she has found herself in a confined garden, with a barrier all around it, her imagination has started to run on ways of crossing the barrier and escaping.

I never walked in a shrubbery surrounded by a sunk fence, that I did not imagine I had half a dozen good reasons for wishing to cross the fence in half a dozen different places. Believe me, my dear son, there are many wives who would, at the hazard of their necks, leap the many sunk fences husbands place round their free-will. (1)

It is a stimulating metaphor, and s…

Elizabeth Craven: A Georgian Feminist, from Wordsworth and Romanticism blog

3rd January 2018
 by Julia Gasper Elizabeth Craven (1750-1828) is a writer who is remembered today for her travelogue, an account of a protracted tour of Europe and the Levant made in 1785-6, and her Memoirs written in later life.  (1) What the travelogue does not mention is that she was making her journey in the company of a lover, and in her Memoirs she was careful to avoid mentioning him or any of the others who had earned her a scandalous reputation. However, she wrote far more than is generally known – poems, plays, stories and letters – and some of her most important works are overlooked. When we factor these back in we get a very different picture, and find that Craven was actually one of the most outspoken contemporaries of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Robinson. In 1784, having been driven from England by scandal, after a marital break-up and many much-talked-about love-affairs, she wrote a remarkable book called Letters to Her Son, in which she denounced the laws of marriage, …