In 1808, The Woman of Colour was anonymously published, its byline simply reading “By the author of "Light and Shade," "The Aunt and the Niece," "Ebersfield Abby", &c.” These referenced titles—Light and Shade, The Aunt and the Niece, and Eversfield Abbey (the last of which is incorrectly spelled on The Woman of Colour’s title page)—link to more titles, and no author’s name. This attribution chain, in fact, spans more than 18 titles between 1795 and 1817, and while some are confidently attributed to a Mrs. E.M. Foster, the authorship of some of the later titles, including The Woman of Colour, is dubious.
The mystery of who wrote The Woman of Colour is driven by the fact that the work is deeply sympathetic towards the novel’s main character, Olivia, a biracial heiress from the Caribbean, during a period when such portrayals in print were uncommon. In this episode, we don't set out to solve it; rather, we talk about the other titles most closely linked to it through the attribution chain and how they might help us contextualize this work's position in the literary marketplace. The WPHP has two fields that capture information about authors: the contributors field, where person records are attached with a defining role, such as “author,” and the signed author field, which captures how the author’s identity is presented on the book itself. This signed author field in particular piqued Kandice’s interest in The Woman of Colour—it captures the long and tangled attribution chain formed by the bylines of eighteen individual titles.
(We’ve included a helpful table, below, that lists each of the titles in the attribution chain and hyperlinks to any title listed in the byline of another work, and includes the primary publisher for each. Click the first part of each title to be taken to their title records, where you can see more information about their publication, including any additional printers or booksellers.)
Episode 1 of Season 3 of The WPHP Monthly Mercury, “By the Author of…” shows Kandice and Kate diving into this tangled attribution chain, asking, which titles are attached to which? How many times? Who published them? What layers of influence do they reveal? Featuring audio from a podcast brainstorming session, this episode invites listeners behind-the-scenes and into the delightfully messy reality of research (and podcasting!) to kick off Season 3 of The WPHP Monthly Mercury.
Attribution Chain Title Table
Produced by: Kate Moffatt, Kandice Sharren, and Michelle Levy
Music by: Ignatius Sancho, “Sweetest Bard”, A Collection of New Songs (1769) from https://brycchancarey.com/sancho/bard.jpg, and played by Kandice Sharren
WPHP Monthly Mercury Episodes Referenced
Season 1, Episode 10: "A Brief History of Delarivier Manley (feat. Kate Ozment)"
WPHP Sources Referenced
WPHP Records Referenced
Austen, Jane (person, author)
Burney, Frances (person, author)
The Woman of Colour (title)
Sense and Sensibility (title)
Churchill, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (person, author)
Guénard, Elisabeth (person, author)
Light and Shade (title)
The Aunt and the Niece (title)
Eversfield Abbey (title)
Foster, Mrs. E. M. (person, author)
Crosby and Letterman (firm)
Frederic & Caroline (title)
The Corinna of England (title)
Black Rock House (title)
The Dead Letter Office (title)
The Duke of Clarence (title)
The Banks of the Wye (title)
A Winter in Bath (title)
James Fletcher Hughes (firm)
Bayfield, Mrs. E. G. (person, author)
Benjamin Crosby and Co. (firm)
Minerva Press, William Lane (firm)
The Revealer of Secrets (title)
Northanger Abbey (title)
Joseph Bell (firm)
Jaquelina of Hainault (title)
George and John Robinson (firm)
Radcliffe, Ann (person, author)
Black, Hannah (person, firm)
Chapone, Hester Mulso (person, author)
The British Novelists (title)
Barbauld, Anna Letitia (person, author)
Anonymous. The Woman of Colour: A Tale. Edited by Lyndon J. Dominique, Broadview Press, 2008.
Brown, Susan, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, eds. "Mrs. EM Foster Profile," Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present, Cambridge University Press, 2022, https://orlando.cambridge.org/index.php/profiles/fostem. Accessed 2022-06-29.
Dominique, Lyndon J. ‘Introduction’. The Woman of Colour, edited by Lyndon J. Dominique, Broadview Press, 2008, pp. 11–42.
Garside, Peter. ‘The English Novel in the Romantic Era: Consolidation and Dispersal’. The English Novel, 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles, edited by Peter Garside et al., vol. 2, Oxford UP, 2000.
Garside, Peter, James Raven, and Rainer Schöwerling, eds. The English Novel 1770-1829. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Harol, Corrinne, et al. ‘Reflections: Who Wrote It? The Woman of Colour and Adventures in Stylometry’. Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 32, no. 2, Dec. 2019, pp. 341–53.
Neiman, Elizabeth A. Minerva’s Gothics: The Politics and Poetics of Romantic Exchange, 1780–1820. University of Wales Press, 2019.
Salih, S. Representing Mixed Race in Jamaica and England from the Abolition Era to the Present. Routledge, 2011.
Aravamudan, Srinivas. Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804. Duke University Press, 1999.
Bandry-Scubbi, Anne. “Chawton Novels Online, Women’s Writing 1751-1834 and Computer-Aided Textual Analysis”. ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830, vol. 5, no. 2, Article 1.
Baugh, Victoria. ‘Mixed-Race Heiresses in Early-Nineteenth-Century Literature: Sanditon ’s Miss Lambe in Context’. European Romantic Review, vol. 29, no. 4, July 2018, pp. 449–58. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1080/10509585.2018.1487373.
Blain, Virginia, et al. ‘Foster, Mrs E.M.’ The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present, B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1990, p. 388.
Bordoni, Sylvia. ‘Introduction’. The Corinna of England, and a Heroine in the Shade; a Modern Romance, edited by Sylvia Bordoni, Pickering and Chatto, 2008, pp. vii–xvii.
Daut, Marlene L. Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865. Liverpool University Press, 2015.
Fielder, Brigitte. Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America. Duke University Press, 2020.
Fielder, Brigitte. ‘The Woman of Colour and Black Atlantic Movement’. Women’s Narratives of the Early Americas and the Formation of Empire, edited by Mary McAleer Balkun and Susan C. Imbarrato, Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016, pp. 171–85.
Reed, Jennifer. ‘Moving Fortunes: Caribbean Women’s Marriage, Mobility, and Money in the Novel of Sentiment’. Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 31, no. 3, Mar. 2019, pp. 509–28.
Vareschi, Mark. Everywhere and Nowhere: Anonymity and Mediation in Eighteenth-Century Britain. University of Minnesota Press, 2018.
This podcast draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.