Delarivier Manley

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Present in all that's said about her: Delarivier Manley's half fictional autobiography

Delarivier (sometimes spelt Delariviere, Delarivière or de la Rivière) Manley (1663 or c. 1670 – 24 July 1724) was an English author, playwright, and political pamphleteer. (Some outdated sources list her first name as Mary, but recent scholarship has demonstrated that this was in error; that was the name of one of her sisters, and she always referred to herself as Delarivier or Delia.)

Manley is sometimes referred to (with Aphra Behn and Eliza Haywood) as one of "The fair triumvirate of wit"—a later attribution.

Biography[edit]

Much of our knowledge about Delarivier Manley is rooted in her insertion of "Delia's story" in the New Atalantis (1709),[1] and the Adventures of Rivella she published as the biography of the author of the Atalantis with Edmund Curll in 1714.[2] Curll added further details on the publication history behind the Rivella in the first posthumous edition of the quasi fictional and not entirely reliable autobiography in 1725.[3]

Manley was probably born in Jersey, the third of six children of Sir Roger Manley, a royalist army officer and historian, and a woman from the Spanish Netherlands, who died when Delarivier was young. It seems that she and her sister Cornelia moved with their father to his various army postings.

After their father's death in 1687, the girls became wards of their cousin, John Manley (1654–1713), a Tory MP. John Manley had married a Cornish heiress and, later, bigamously, married Delarivier. They had a son in 1691, also named John. In January 1694 Manley left her husband and went to live with Barbara Villiers, the 1st Duchess of Cleveland, at one time the mistress of Charles II. She remained there only six months, at which time she was expelled by the duchess for allegedly flirting with her son.

During the period of 1694–1696 Manley travelled extensively in England, principally in the south-west. At this time she wrote her first play, a comedy, The Lost Lover, or, The Jealous Husband (1696). There is some indication that she may have been by then reconciled with her husband, for a time.

German edition of Manley's Atalantis, 1713

Manley's satirical attacks on the Whigs at one point resulted in payment from the then Prime Minister Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer. Her career as an author effectively began with the publication of her New Atalantis in 1709, a work that spotted present British politics on the fabulous Mediterranean Island. Manley was immediately questioned by the authorities in preparation of a libel case against her. She had discredited half the arena of ruling Whig politicians—John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, who, she said, had begun his career at court in the bed of the then royal mistress, Barbara Villiers. Manley answered the authorities, so her Adventures of Rivella, insisting that her work was entirely fictional.[4] Whigs who felt offended should prove that she had actually told their stories. The result was a silent agreement over the preferable fictional status of her works under which she continued to publish another volume of the Atalantis and two more of the Memoirs of Europe. The latter found a different fictional setting to allow the wider European picture. Later editions sold the Memoirs, however, as volumes three and four of the Atalantis. The Atalantis was not only the attractive work to embrace the Memoirs; it sparked several imitations and persuaded the publishers to sell the Secret History of Queen Zarah, an anonymous work that had appeared four years earlier as an "appendix" to the New Atalantis.

In 1714 Manley had almost suffered the misfortune of becoming the object of a biographical text planned by Charles Gildon. Curll, Gildon's prospective publisher warned Manley of the work in progress. She contacted Gildon and arranged for an agreement: she would write the work in question herself within a certain time span. The result were her Adventures of Rivella, a book evolving between two male protagonists: The young chevalier D'Aumont has left France to have sex with the author, he finds a rejected lover and friend who does not only offer his assistance in arranging the contact but who also tells the story of her life, both as related in public gossip and as only her friends know it.

Manley temporally joined Jonathan Swift as co-author of The Examiner. Her last major work, The Power of Love in Seven Novels (London: J. Barber/ J. Morphew, 1720) is a revised version of selected novellas first published in William Painter's Palace of Pleasure well furnished with pleasaunt Histories and excellent Novelles (1566).

Manley died at Barber's Printing House, on Lambeth Hill, after a violent fit of the cholic which lasted five days. Her body was interred in the middle aisle of the Church of St Benet at Paul's-Wharf, where on a marble gravestone is the following inscription to her memory:

"Here lieth the body of

Mrs. Delarivier Manley,

Daughter of Sir Roger Manley, Knight,

Who, suitable to her birth and education,

Was acquainted with several Parts of Knowledge,

And with the most polite Writers, both in the French and English tongue.

This Accomplishment,

Together with a greater Natural Stock of Wit, made her Conversation agreeable to all who knew Her, and her Writings to be universally Read with Pleasure.

She died July 11th, 1724." [5]

Reception[edit]

Delarivier Manley lived on the fame of her notorious personality as early as 1714. Her precarious marriage past, numerous quarrels, her obesity, her political stance were topics she sold in constant revisions of the fame she had acquired. This was apparently no problem before the 1740s—Manley was translated into French and German in the early 18th century, and received new English editions during the first half of the century.[6] Alexander Pope satirised the eternal fame she was about to acquire in his Rape of the Lock in 1712—it would last "as long as the Atalantis shall be read."[7]

The revision of her fame and status as an author began in the early decades of the 18th century and led to manifest defamations in the 19th and early 20th centuries: Manley became a scandalous female author, one of those whom some critics audaciously asserted did not deserve to be ever read again.[8] Later critics, however, looked back on the conclusions of Richetti and others as not merely short-sighted, but perhaps even outright misogynistic and more reflective of their era than of general historic scholarship on the author as an important political satirist.

Manley's present re-appreciation began with Patricia Köster's ground breaking edition of her works. The more accessible edition of The New Atalantis, which Rosalind Ballaster turned into a Penguin Classic, brought Manley wider recognition among students of early eighteenth-century literature. Janet Todd, Catherine Gallagher and Ros Ballaster provided the perspective of Manley as a proto-feminist. Fidelis Morgan's, A Woman of No Character. An Autobiography of Mrs. Manley (London, 1986) put the (auto-)biographical information into the first more coherent picture. More recent critics such as Rachel Carnell and Ruth Herman have professionalised her biography and provided standardised scholarly editions.

Delarivier Manley has been erroneously claimed to have written The Secret History of Queen Zarah (1705). This was first doubted in Patricia Köster's edition of her works (which still included the title). The claim was openly rejected by Olaf Simons (2001) who re-read the wider context of early 18th century Atalantic novels.[9] J. Alan Downie (2004) went a step further and cast light on the presumable author of the Queen Zarah: Dr Joseph Browne.[10]

Works[edit]

She also edited Jonathan Swift's Examiner. In her writings she played with classical names and spelling. She was an uninhibited and effective political writer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Delarivier Manley, Secret Memoirs and Manners of Several Persons of Quality, of Both Sexes. From the New Atalantis vol. 2 (London: J. Morphew, , 1709), p.181 ff.
  2. ^ Accessible at http://www.pierre-marteau.com.
  3. ^ See the web publication at http://pierre-marteau.com.
  4. ^ "RIVELLA remain'd immovable in a Point which she thought her Duty, and accordingly surrender'd her self, and was examin'd in the Secretary's Office: They us’d several Arguments to make her discover who were the Persons concern’d with her in writing her Books; or at least from whom she had receiv’d Information of some special Facts, which they thought were above her own Intelligence: Her Defence was with much Humility and Sorrow, for having offended, at the same Time denying that any Persons were concern’d with her, or that she had a farther Design than writing for her own Amusement and Diversion in the Country; without intending particular Reflections or Characters: When this was not believ’d, and the contrary urg’d very home to her by several Circumstances and Likenesses; she said then it must be Inspiration, because knowing her own Innocence she could account for it no other Way: The Secretary reply’d upon her, that Inspiration us’d to be upon a good Account, and her Writings were stark naught; she told him, with an Air full of Penitence, that might be true, but it was as true, that there were evil Angels as well as good; so that nevertheless what she had wrote might still be by Inspiration.", [Delarivier Manley,] The Adventures of Rivella (London: 1714), p.113. www.pierre-marteau.com
  5. ^ An impartial history of the life, character, amours, travels, and transactions of Mr John Barber" by Edmund Curll – 1741 at page 45
  6. ^ The 1725 edition of her Rivella marked the end of further interest in her personality. The seventh edition of her Atalantis published by J. Watson in 1736 became the last in the 18th century.
  7. ^ Alexander Pope, "The Rape of the Lock" in Miscellaneous poems and translations. By several hands (London: Bernard Lintott, 1712), p.363.
  8. ^ See e.g. John J. Richetti, Popular Fiction before Richardson. Narrative Patterns 1700–1739. Oxford: OUP, 1969.
  9. ^ Simons, Olaf, Marteaus Europa oder Der Roman, bevor er Literatur wurde (Amsterdam/ Atlanta: Rodopi, 2001), p.173–79, 218–246.
  10. ^ Downie, J. Alan, "What if Delarivier Manley Did Not Write The Secret History of Queen Zarah?", The Library (2004) 5(3):247–264 [1]

Literature[edit]

  • Ros Ballaster, ‘Manley, Delarivier (c.1670–1724)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Carole Sargent, "Military Scandal and National Debt in Manley's 'New Atalantis'", SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, 53:3, Summer 2013.
  • Carole Fungaroli Sargent, [2], "How a Pie Fight Satirizes Whig-Tory Conflict in Delarivier Manley's 'The New Atalantis'", Eighteenth-Century Studies, 44:4, Summer 2011.
  • Aaron Santesso, "'The New Atalantis' and Varronian Satire," Philological Quarterly, Spring 2000.
  • Rachel Carnell, A Political Biography of Delarivier Manley (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2008).
  • Ruth Herman, The Business of a Woman: The Political Writings of Delarivier Manley (London: AUP, 2003).
  • Rachel Carnell and Ruth Herman, The Selected Works of Delarivier Manley (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2005).
  • Patricia Köster, "Delariviere Manley and the DNB. A Cautionary Tale about Following Black Sheep with a Challenge to Cataloguers", Eighteenth-Century Live, 3 (1977), p. 106-11.
  • Fidelis Morgan, A Woman of No Character. An Autobiography of Mrs. Manley (London, 1986).
  • Dale Spender in Mothers of the Novel (1986).
  • Janet Todd, "Life after Sex: The Fictional Autobiography of Delarivier Manley", Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15 (1988), p. 43–55.
  • Janet Todd (ed.), "Manley, Delarivier." British Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide. London: Routledge, 1989. 436–440.
  • Rosalind Ballaster, "Introduction" to: Manley, Delariviere, New Atalantis, ed. R. Ballaster (London, 1992), p.v-xxi.
  • Ros Ballaster, 'Delarivier Manley (c. 1663–1724)' at www.chawton.org
  • Catharine Gallagher, "Political Crimes and Fictional Alibis. The Case of Delarivier Manley", Eighteenth Century Studies, 23 (1990), p. 502-21.
  • Olaf Simons, Marteaus Europa oder Der Roman, bevor er Literatur wurde (Amsterdam/ Atlanta: Rodopi, 2001), p. 173–179, 218–246.
  • J. Alan Downie, "What if Delarivier Manley Did Not Write The Secret History of Queen Zarah?", The Library (2004) 5(3):247–264 [3].
  • Paul Bunyan Anderson, "Mistress Delarivière Manley's Biography", Modern Philology, 33 (1936), p. 261-78.
  • Paul Bunyan Anderson, "Delariviere Manley's Prose Fiction", Philological Quarterley, 13 (1934), p. 168-88.
  • Gwendolyn Needham, "Mary de la Rivière Manley, Tory Defender", Huntington Library Quarterley, 12 (1948/49), p. 255-89.
  • Gwendolyn Needham, "Mrs Manley. An Eighteenth-Century Wife of Bath", Huntington Library Quarterley, 14 (1950/51), p. 259-85.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource