London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley... 1761. First edition of what is considered the finest work of fiction by Richard Brinsley Sheridan's mother. Some joints cracking, but cords sound, contemporary ownership signature on each title-page ("K. Southwell"). A good, clean set. Contemporary calf, a bit rubbed and scuffed. Gilt leather spine labels. Three volumes, twelvemo. , 335; , 357; , 341 pp. Item #16063
Frances Chamberlaine Sheridan (1724-1766) was a Dublin-born novelist and playwright and the wife of theatre manager Thomas Sheridan (1719?-1788). The Sheridans moved to London in 1754, where Frances made the acquaintance of Samuel Richardson, who read an unpublished romance of hers and encouraged her to write another, which became the present work. It is dedicated to Samuel Richardson. "A study of the effect of extreme distress on apparently irreproachable virtue, the novel embodies a feminist critique of poetical justice so remorseless as to lead Samuel Johnson, one of many influential admirers, to exclaim, ‘I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much’ (Boswell, Life, 276)" (Oxford DNB). It was translated into French by Abbé Prevost, and subsequently into German. She also became a successful playwright, penning The Discovery, which was staged by David Garrick and later adapted by Aldous Huxley, and A Journey to Bath, which is notable for providing in Mrs. Tryfort the prototype of Mrs. Malaprop in her son's play, The Rivals.
ESTC records three copies in the U.K. and eleven copies in America (Boston Public, Essex Institute, Harvard, Indiana, Miami, NYU, Princeton, Berkeley, UCLA, Illinois and Yale).