Susanna Haswell Rowson: as American Author

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      Susanna Haswell Rowson (1762-1824) claims to be the first American novelist. Her novel Charlotte Temple was published in London in 1791 and then in the United States three years later where it became the first American best-seller. By 1933, it had gone through 161 editions. And it has been read by a quarter to a half million people. The story, as Rowson says, is related by an old lady who had personally known Charlotte, the heroine. She has written the novel fundamentally with a moral purpose. She declares;” For the perusal of the young and thoughtless of the fair sex, this of Truth is designed’. The character is not “not merely the effusion of Fancy...but a reality”, because it was grounded in fact and because it is intended as a manual of inducting a guide to a young woman as they negotiate their way through life. In the story, she as girl of fifteen seduced first by an army officer called Montraville; Montraville is accompanied by an unscrupulous teacher who, Charlotte Temple and Mille. After considerable hesitation, she elopes with the Montraville from England to New York. There she is deserted by both and she gives birth to a girl child whom she names as Lucy, and she dies in poverty. This novel is melodramatic and conceived within the sentimental constraints of the time and expressed in its conventional ethical language.

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