Constance: A Novel, The First Literary Attempt of a Young Lady.

Publisher: London: Printed at the Logographic Press, for Thomas Hookham, at His Circulating Library, 1785.
Edition: First edition.
Bibliographical References: Garside, Raven and Schöwerling 1785:38; ESTC T66880 (BL, Bibliothèque Nationale, Sorbonne, Brown, HEH, Ohio State, LC, Illinois, Michigan, Penn, UVa, Yale, Western Ontario); Hardy, Catalogue of English Prose Fiction, 630. All the preceding citations attribute the authorship to Eliza Kirkham Mathews.
Condition: Bindings rubbed and somewhat worn, but sound; some foxing; very good copy.
Book ID: 27923


4 vols, 12mo, contemporary dark blue roan, gilt rules and lettering, a.e.g. Three pages of publisher's terminal advertisements in volume 4. Errata pasted in on the final blank of each volume.


The first novel by Laetitia-Matilda Hawkins (circa 1759-1835), a coming-of-age story centering on a young lady about which a reviewer in the Monthly Review wrote: "The characters in this novel are discriminated with considerable degree of spirit and propriety, but they are not thrown into situations so various or interesting as wholly to prevent languor. It is, however, one of the best written productions of this sort that hath appeared since Cecilia" - quoted in Garside, Raven and Schöwerling. Hawkins was the daughter of Sir John Hawkins, friend, editor and biographer of Samuel Johnson, the latter whom the young Laetitia knew well in her youth. Like Fanny Burney, Laetitia Hawkins wrote her early works in secret to keep her literary activity from her disapproving father, and only recently have the titles of her first six novels been correctly identified. Constance has traditionally been attributed to Eliza Kirkham Mathews (1772-1802), which was somewhat improbable considering that she would have been 13 the year of publication. After her father’s death in 1789, Hawkins published several other novels under her name. See Wolff and Block, and Jan Fergus in Notes and Queries, vol. 54, issue 2, “Laetitia-Matilda Hawkins’s Anonymous Novels Identified.”.

Price: $2,250.00

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