Eliza Haywood (1693?-1756) was one of the first women in England to earn a living writing fiction. Her early tales of amorous intrigue, sometimes based on real people, were exceedingly popular though controversial. Haywood, along with her contemporary Daniel Defoe, did more than any other writer to create a market for fiction in the period just prior to the emergence of Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, and Tobias Smollett, the dominant velists of the mid-eighteenth century.The scheming, sexually predatory anti-heroine of The Injur'd Husband is a memorable villain who defies all expectations of a woman's conduct in marriage. The heroine of Lasselia is initially a model of virtue who bravely resists the advances of a king, only to be driven by her passion and desire into an illicit affair with a married man and ultimately into ruin. These two provocative narratives strikingly represent Haywood's extraordinary contribution to the development of the vel.
Jerry C. Beasley, professor of English at the University of Delaware, is the author of Novels of the 1740s and Tobias Smollett: Novelist.