Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Carnell, Rachel

Subject Headings

Manley, Mrs, Haywood, Eliza Fowler, 1693?-1756, Women and literature -- History -- 18th century, Sex role in literature -- 18th century, Narration (Rhetoric) -- 18th century, British and Irish Literature, literature, history, secret history, narratology, politics, Eliza Haywood, Delarivier Manley


Recent studies of eighteenth-century women writers have focused on the role of women as developers and proponents of the secret history. The secret history, recently defined by scholars such as Rebecca Bullard, Melinda Alliker Rabb, Ros Ballaster, Marta Kvande, and Rachel Carnell, among others, occupies space within several genres, including political satire and historiography. The genre's secretive nature and reliance on gossip and anecdotal evidence creates a new space for women writers that allows them to enter political discourse and offer a distinctly gendered social commentary. As public became private and private became secret, secret historians sought to expose the private lives of individuals in power. In this paper, I examine the role of women writers and secret historians, particularly Delarivier Manley and Eliza Haywood, and what I read as their response to male counterparts as they established and developed a gendered response both to the political climate of the early to mid-eighteenth century and the divergence of male and female social roles within the domestic sphere. In examining the narratorial structure and narratological techniques of both male and female secret historians over a period stretching from 1674 to 1736, I trace the development of female gender roles and attitudes towards women within the genre of the secret history, revealing through these works a narration of male and female attitudes towards women in the public and private spheres