Elizabeth Rowe Criticism - Essay

The Lady's Monthly Museum (essay date 1803)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: The Lady's Monthly Museum, May, 1803, pp. 286–91.

[In the following encomium from a nineteenth-century popular magazine, the anonymous critic praises Rowe's writing and her person.]

Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe, not more admired for her fine writings by the ingenious who did not know her, than esteemed and loved by all her acquaintance, for the many amiable qualities of her heart, was born at Ilchester, in Somersetshire, September 11, 1674; being the eldest of three daughters of Walter Singer, Esq. a gentleman of good family, and Mrs. Elizabeth Portnell; both of them persons of very great worth and piety.

Those who were acquainted with Mrs. Rowe in...

(The entire section is 763 words.)

Charlotte E. Morgan (essay date 1911)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Novel," in The Rise of the Novel of Manners: A Study of English Prose Fiction Between 1600 and 1740, Russell & Russell, 1963, pp. 89–114.

[In the following excerpt, first published in 1911 and reprinted in 1963, Morgan characterizes Rowe's work as didactic character sketches similar to those found in popular periodicals.]

Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe (1674–1737) belongs in many respects to the same school as the Duchess of Newcastle, but this well-bred lady would have been unutterably shocked by her plainspoken predecessor. Mrs. Rowe undertook to inculcate principles of right living by means of sentimental piety. In 1728 appeared Friendship in Death in...

(The entire section is 1831 words.)

Myra Reynolds (essay date 1920)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "General Learning and Literary Work," in The Learned Lady in England, 1650–1760, 1920; Reprint, Peter Smith, 1964, pp. 137–57.

[In the following excerpt, originally published in 1920 and reprinted in 1964, Reynolds describes Rowe's life, education, and the social context of her writing.]

Mr. Walter Singer, a dissenting minister of Frome, was early left a widower with three daughters. Two of these daughters showed while still young exceptionally good minds and a natural interest in study. One daughter, who died at nineteen, was devoted to medicine and collected books on that subject. Elizabeth preferred drawing and poetry. She began drawing when her fingers...

(The entire section is 1097 words.)

H. Bunker Wright (essay date 1945)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Matthew Prior and Elizabeth Singer," in Philological Quarterly, Vol. XXIV, No. 1, January, 1945, pp. 71–82.

[In the following essay, Wright analyzes the relationship between Rowe and the poet Matthew Prior, based on a set of extant letters from Prior to Rowe.]

For several months in 1703 and 1704 Matthew Prior and Elizabeth Singer carried on a vivacious correspondence of which nothing has heretofore been known. Miss Singer's letters are not extant, but nine of Prior's have been preserved at Longleat,1 and these entertaining epistles reveal rather clearly the substance and tone of the letters to which they were answers. A study of this...

(The entire section is 5616 words.)

Robert Adams Day (essay date 1966)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Epistolary Novel Arrives," in Told in Letters: Epistolary Fiction Before Richardson, The University of Michigan Press, 1966, pp. 146–91.

[In the following excerpt from a study of epistolary fiction, Day characterizes Rowe's writings as a combination of the miscellany collection and works of moral instruction.]

The pen is almost as pretty an implement in a woman's fingers, as a needle.

—Samuel Richardson (to Lady Bradshaigh)

When the Portuguese Letters appeared in English in 1678, they did more than popularize a style of epistolary expression. L'Estrange's book...

(The entire section is 3033 words.)

John J. Richetti (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Novel as Pious Polemic," in Popular Fiction Before Richardson: Narrtive Patterns 1700–1739, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 211–61.

[In the following excerpt from a discussion of the novel as pious polemic, Richetti analyzes Rowe's writings and their widespread popularity.]

It is a short and logical step from creating a fictional moral centre like Galesia to having a well-known female paragon write fiction and lend it her personal cachet. This is precisely what took place in 1728 when Mrs. Elizabeth Singer Rowe published Friendship in Death: in Twenty Letters from the Dead to the Living.1

In 1723 Mrs. Aubin...

(The entire section is 8376 words.)

Josephine Grieder (essay date 1972)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to Friendship in Death, by Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1972, pp. 5–15.

[In the following essay, Grieder provides an overview discussion of Rowe's Friendship in Death and Letters Moral and Entertaining.]

Since vice frequently receives more publicity than virtue, the reader acquainted with the scandalous lives and writings of early eighteenth-century authoresses like Mrs. Manley and Mrs. Haywood may be surprised to learn that there were indeed respectable ladies among the female littérateurs; and that none was so highly regarded as the writer of the present volume, Mrs. Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674–1737). She moved in...

(The entire section is 2564 words.)

Henry F. Stecher (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Character of Elizabeth Singer Rowe," in Elizabeth Singer Rowe, the Poetess of Frome: A Study in Eighteenth-Century English Pietism, Peter Lang, 1973, pp. 176–214.

[In the following excerpt from a full-length study of Rowe, Stecher analyzes the use of sentimentality and romanticism in Rowe's work and life.]

Despite Mrs. Rowe's love for solitude and meditation, and her praise of reason, she often showed great interest and even enthusiasm for mundane pleasures. At first glance, it appears paradoxical, if not entirely inconsistent with her pious reputation, to find remarks in her published and unpublished letters which indicate a degree of social...

(The entire section is 5403 words.)

Jane Spencer (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Natural, Moral and Modest: Elizabeth Rowe," in The Rise of the Woman Novelist: From Aphra Behn to Jane Austen, Basil Blackwell, 1986, pp. 81–5.

[In the following excerpt from a study of women novelists from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, Spencer identifies Rowe as a model of eighteenth-century female virtue.]

… The early eighteenth century found its ideals of feminine and literary virtue embodied in the life and work of Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674–1737). A native of Somerset, she was the daughter of a Dissenting preacher, and received a pious education that laid the foundations of her religious outlook. She was writing verse by the age of...

(The entire section is 1905 words.)

Marlene R. Hansen (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Pious Mrs. Rowe," in English Studies, Netherlands, Vol. 76, No.1, January, 1995, pp. 34–51.

[In the following essay, Hansen examines the publication history of Rowe's works and suggests that male associates and editors emphasized her feminine piety and virtue as part of a larger cultural conflict.]

Although her works were in constant demand until the mid-nineteenth century, both in England and on the continent,1 Mrs. Rowe is a writer from whom the modern sensibility has turned firmly away. Her writings are mainly devotional and moralistic, although sometimes her religious yearnings are expressed with a sensuality which though interesting and...

(The entire section is 9418 words.)