Alethea Lewis

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Alethea Lewis (born 19 December 1749, buried 12 November 1827) was an English novelist, born at Acton, near Nantwich, Cheshire. She also used the pseudonym Eugenia de Acton. Her subject-matter centred on her profound Christianity and the rewards of virtue.

Life[edit]

Alethea's father was the Anglican cleric Reverend James Brereton. She was two years old when her mother died and her father sent her away to live with her maternal grandfather, who was a linen draper in Framlingham, Suffolk. Her father later remarried and had more daughters.

She was engaged to William Springal Levett, the son of an Aldeburgh physician and a friend of the poet George Crabbe, but Levett died in 1774 before the couple could marry. In 1788 she married Augustus Towle Lewis, a surgeon with a criminal past of which she may have been unaware. The couple lived in Philadelphia for a year, and then returned to England, where they finally settled in Penkridge, Staffordshire, where she died in 1827.[1]

Work[edit]

Of the novels that are attributed to Lewis, some are unquestionable while others are more doubtful. Among her undisputed works are Vicissitudes in Genteel Life (1794) and The Microcosm (1801). Some of the more uncertain works (Things by their Right Names, 1812, Rhoda, 1816, and Isabella, 1823) have also been attributed to Frances Jacson.

Lewis's themes mostly centre on her profound Christianity and the rewards of virtue. Her work is self-conscious and shows great erudition. Some works (Essays on the Art of being Happy, 1803, A Tale without a Title: Give it what you Please, 1804, The Nuns of the Desert, or, The Woodland Witches, 1805, and the four-volume The Discarded Daughter, 1810) were published under the pseudonym "Eugenia de Acton".[2] Her plots have been described as "overcrowded and creaky", but with "a strain of creative unconventionality".[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Isobel Grundy, "Lewis , Alethea (1749–1827)", ODNB, Oxford University Press, 2004 Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  2. ^ Isobel Grundy, "Lewis , Alethea (1749–1827)", ODNB, Oxford University Press, 2004 Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  3. ^ Orlando site, Cambridge University. Retrieved 27 September 2014.