Elizabeth Inchbald Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Elizabeth Inchbald published two novels: A Simple Story (1791) and Nature and Art (1796). For the 125 plays collected in The British Theatre (1806-1809), she provided brief critical prefaces, and she chose the works for the seven-volume A Collection of Farces and Other Afterpieces (1809) and the ten-volume The Modern Theatre (1811).


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Elizabeth Inchbald was a highly successful playwright for her time. Fourteen of her plays ran ten or more nights their first season. In the 1788-1789 season, six of her works were performed, and during the week of March 16, 1790, The Child of Nature, Such Things Are, and The Midnight Hour were performed at Covent Garden. Her comedies were sufficiently popular to allow her to retire in 1805. When the Quarterly Review was begun in 1809, Inchbald was invited to contribute. Though she declined, she did agree to write critical prefaces to the 125 plays in The British Theatre and to select the pieces to be included in two other anthologies.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Boaden, James. Memoirs of Mrs. Inchbald. London: Richard Bentley, 1833. Still the most comprehensive biography, drawing on Inchbald’s diaries and the recollections of those who knew her. Includes many of her letters and two of her plays not previously produced or published.

Littlewood, S. R. Elizabeth Inchbald and Her Circle: The Life of a Charming Woman (1753-1821). London: Daniel O’Connor, 1921. A charming biography that draws freely on Boaden. Offers little analysis of Inchbald’s writings and contains some factual errors.

Manvell, Roger. Elizabeth Inchbald: England’s Principal Woman Dramatist and Independent Woman of Letters in Eighteenth Century London. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1987. Examines Inchbald’s literary and political theories as she expressed them in her plays, novels, and literary criticism. Includes a useful primary and secondary bibliography as well as excerpts from Inchbald’s letters and brief plot summaries of her plays.