The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless by Eliza Haywood
'her youth, - her beauty, - the gaiety of her temper, and the little vanities of her sex, are every day exposing her to temptations fatal to reputations; I wish, therefore, she were well married'. A lively, pretty young orphan with a large fortune, Miss Betsy Thoughtless is courted by several eligible suitors. Enjoying their adoration, she extends her power over men by dallying with their affections and postponing marriage. Her flirtatiousness, however, alienates the right man, and scares her guardians into marrying her off to a brutish husband. The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751) is one of the first novels to depict a heroine struggling with the consequences of marrying the wrong man. In it Eliza Haywood, a prolific and successful author who began her career as an actress, questions the sexual double standard and institution of marriage. Satirized by Pope in The Dunciad, Haywood came to align herself with Richardson and Fielding in adapting to changing literary and moral tastes, and the Introduction considers her novel against a background of social change. This edition brings back into print a fascinating and provocative story of sexual politics.