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Revealing influence: the forgotten daughters of Frances Sheridan

Fitzer, Anna M.


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Dr Anna Fitzer
Senior Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature and Admissions Tutor for English and Creative Writing


This article adopts a literal and metaphorical conceptualization of progeny to explore influence in relation to the works of the novelist and dramatist Frances Sheridan (1724-66) and her youngest daughter Elizabeth Sheridan, afterwards LeFanu (1758-1837). Tracing the conception and eventual posthumous publication in 1791 of Sheridan's first and neglected romance Eugenia and Adelaide, the article attributes the anonymously published Lucy Osmond (1803) to Elizabeth LeFanu, and identifies the affinities of these two early novels. LeFanu's preface to Lucy Osmond marks the interrelation of familial interest and professional ambition that informs her later work. For LeFanu, the Sheridan connection presented both opportunities and responsibilities, and the article argues that, in her subsequent novels, The India Voyage (1804) and The Sister (1810), LeFanu continues to negotiate this literary legacy in matrilineal terms. In its comparative analysis of the works of mother and daughter, the article asserts an intertextual interest in the very questions of legitimacy and inheritance which also informed their private lives, and which are, in turn, relevant to the article's concluding consideration of the early literary career of LeFanu's own daughter, the poet, novelist and Sheridan biographer Alicia LeFanu (1791-1867).


Fitzer, A. M. (2013). Revealing influence: the forgotten daughters of Frances Sheridan. Women's Writing, 20(1), 64-81.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jan 9, 2013
Publication Date 2013-02
Print ISSN 0969-9082
Electronic ISSN 1747-5848
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 1
Pages 64-81
Keywords Literature and Literary Theory; Gender Studies
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