Women’s Writing, Volume 11, Number 3, 2004

The Courtesan’s Progress in the Late 1790s: Elizabeth Gooch [1] and Margaret Coghlan

ABSTRACT Elizabeth Gooch and Margaret Coghlan, both courtesans, draw on gothic modes to assert a woman’s inviolable right to property in her own person. Gooch protests her helplessness in life-writings published in 1788 and 1792, then goes on to earn her living as a writer publishing in several genres. Coghlan’s memoir was unfinished and unpublished at the time of her death in 1787. In 1794, a pseudonymous and radical author added a second, luridly gothic, fictional volume, distorting Coghlan’s radical apology for women to forward his protest against the persecution of the Jacobins. While all three writers exploit gothic narratives and the discourse of natural rights to justify their variously radical arguments concerning women’s sexuality, Coghlan defies the laws and practices of female subordination to negotiate her own sexual contracts with men; the spurious author offers a libertine’s tolerance of feminine transgression; and Gooch moves over time from an assertion of helplessness to shape a narrative of principled self-sufficiency.

Elizabeth Gooch (1756-post-1804) and Margaret Coghlan (1762?-87) had in common histories as estranged daughters and wives and subsequent lives as public figures. They enjoyed a passing acquaintance with each other in the early 1780s while both were living in London as courtesans.[2] Coghlan had by that time served a stint as an actress; Gooch’s occasional career on stage was yet to come.[3] In the late 1780s, each wrote an account of her scandalous life: Coghlan scripted hers shortly before her death, and Gooch’s Appeal to the Public, on the Conduct of Mrs. Gooch, the Wife of William Gooch, Esq. was printed by the author while in Fleet Prison in 1788. Thereafter, the narrative trajectory of each courtesan diverges as their texts generate more writing. Coghlan’s document was revised and expanded before posthumous publication, probably by the polemicist Charles Pigott, notable in this context for his radicalism (he was imprisoned twice for sedition; indeed, he died in

especially writers.[8] While the pseudonymous writer of Coghlan’s Memoirs shapes the life of the fallen woman with the language of libertinism to advance his cause of liberty. Written by herself. both to justify her past and to raise money. and anecdotes of licentious whores. written by herself. written. Gooch too wrote a posthumous life. Gooch’s marks the first step to a career that re-establishes her social worth. but reflected earlier in such fictions as Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783-85). 1792). Dedicated to the public (London.[5] His addition to Memoirs of Mrs. Crucially. Each of Coghlan and Gooch. This stance allows the courtesan to nullify or at least mitigate her offences. Coghlan. including the legal narratives of aggrieved wives. Following upon her Life of Mrs. however. She contends that her private decisions and relations are congruent with the larger aims of national liberty. Coghlan interprets her actions as a testament to the operation of radical feminine feeling in an era of political revolution. then. This tangle of lives. Gooch became a professional writer. Their arguments for the integrity of the individual woman. tales of seduced maidens. in the notorious Female Jockey Club (1792). publishing in several genres. The pseudonymous author. affirm the social value of the courtesan. places the courtesan within the 364 . and to advance her own interests. Gooch appears to have been aligning herself with Bellamy’s role as a sentimental moralist and writer of verse and fiction on seduced maidens. 1794) introduces bawdy incident and promotes Jacobin politics. agrees nonetheless that sexual labour proceeds from the workings of an unnaturally administered private sphere whose corruption is reflected in the illogic and arbitrariness of the public world. Coghlan and Gooch’s self-history. draws on gothic modes to assert her inviolable right to property in her own person. Each of the narratives confirms the politics of the polite and the ideology of the correct self while subverting restrictive gender identity – the imperatives of obedience and domesticity. however.[6] Where Coghlan’s narrative is adapted to a male purpose.[7] A coda: like Pigott. like her Appeal. like Gooch and Coghlan. Elizabeth Gooch.Rhoda Zuk prison on 24 June 1794 [4]). and intentions provides evidence that the courtesan’s progress toward a satisfactory closure is a contested journey. for it is the fate rather than the fact of the fallen woman that propels the narratives. as well as the spurious one. and dedicated to the British Nation. she believes that the violations against her are as much economic as psychic and sexual. Hers. as well as for his satire of women. being interspersed with anecdotes of the late American and present French War (London. texts. whose defiance of his socially defined place she celebrates. A Highland Story in 1789. Gooch. who unlike Coghlan rues her scandalous history. are communicated largely through a language of physical entrapment and personal invasion first popularised by Anne Radcliffe’s The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne. Coghlan and Pigott’s Memoirs and Gooch’s Appeal and Life incorporate but exceed eighteenth-century stock genres of sexually transgressive women. prefaces the novel she had completed of her long-time friend Thomas Bellamy.

Gooch and Coghlan. wifely disobedience. 258). Coghlan’s memoir.[13] An emphasis on manners and civility. among other things. and reputation. first of all. but foregrounds her vulnerability to argue that she be relieved by a newly tolerant masculine justice. then.THE COURTESAN’S PROGRESS context of national purpose. the coded performance of the gentry. However. each of the three texts is imbricated in the discourse of natural rights. typically. Understandably. earlier writers did not have to contend with – nor could they turn to advantage – cultural consequences of medical discourses concerning physiological difference which provide an ontological basis for the ideology of the incommensurability of the sexes.[10] All these women protest familial and social betrayal.[12] In addition. Coghlan and Gooch are aware that their cultural and psychological identities do not coincide: viewed as monsters of filial ingratitude. The female authors in particular construct narratives consistent with moral strictures concerning virtue and propriety propounded in conduct literature dating from the 1760s. the pseudonymous author figures the same discourses to represent Coghlan as a sentimental emblem of female dependence upon men. corroborate evidence that by the latter part of the century the legal system had become particularly inhospitable to separated wives. and that created by the pseudonymous author. however. Brant argues convincingly that mid-century texts by wronged women “stress scandal as a discursive system” and “explore the law as an alternative” (p. and consumerist excess. manifestly oppressed women in a flawed 365 .[11] Generic distinctions are complexified by historical ones. in so far as personal histories written or related by estranged wives from the 1750s to the 1790s underscore the perceived connection between economic imperatives. the woman who has lost her reputation “asserts her innocence within a legal discourse” (p. However. in the language of sensibility. and each is expressed. Clearly. 336). constitute an enactment of and an insistence on the correct performance of masculinity and femininity in private and public roles. while Gooch and Coghlan exploit this repertoire of ideologies and rhetorical strategies to build a case for their right to personal autonomy in domestic and civil life. heterogeneous: “one is faced with a plethora of sub-genres”. 256). The confluence of Gooch and Coghlan’s accounts with the style and preoccupations of literature for women suggests. then. the writings are. and financial exigency. they attempt to integrate their actions with their self-understanding as moral. male turpitude. allows for what Fletcher calls “an embodiment of social and gender authority” (p. sexual transgression. Their texts also intersect with the sentimental mode of women’s magazine fiction and novels dating from the 1770s. as well as Gooch’s Appeal and Life. as Clare Brant points out about the courtesans’ narratives of the mid-century. to a greater or lesser extent. the crucial role of reading and writing in the formation of subjectivity for middle-class women in this period. Coghlan and Gooch’s texts can be placed within the eighteenth-century genealogy of what Felicity Nussbaum has termed “scandalous memoirists” [9]. In some respects.

she “wore the uniform of the regiment. on the other hand. 1. In the process. To that extent. at the age of thirteen or fourteen. The two women admit some complicity with the extravagance. and rode constantly with him at the head of it when it went out to exercise” [Life. rehearses her early rebellions in the language of emancipation from tyranny. Major Moncrieffe. Gooch laments her incapacity for exercising her apparent and existent rights as a citizen in contending that her disastrous history ensues from her ignorance of her legal entitlements: “Had I . 40). Always at the center of the story there is the bereft. In the very earliest days of her womanhood. her father orders her removal from Elizabethtown. While Coghlan and the pseudonymous author criticise British foreign and domestic policy. Coghlan situates herself as an adherent of republican ideals. Coghlan. Moreover.. penniless. Each writer invests her narrative with a complex display of her feminine dignity and vulnerability. her experience of social displacement and anxiety about loss form the very stuff of the women’s literature of the 1790s. and wandering woman. but each constructs her tale so that the proceedings of the adventurer are secondary to the conditions which create her. a loyalist in the American war. From the beginning.” (Life. Once there. New Jersey. situated as they are within an overarching structure of sentimental and social violation. she decamps simply because she does not like the scenery: it is too 366 .Rhoda Zuk social order. to the safety of the remote countryside. I would have shaken off the fetters in which I was ignorantly bound . had I even formed an idea of that liberty every British subject is born with the privilege to enjoy. explaining her defiant conduct as the consequence of innate and pure impulse to which men of revolutionary principle respond sympathetically. grace. thereby positioning herself to deliver incisive moral commentary derived from her intimate knowledge of many and various public men. Count de la Marck. Many of her lovers throughout the early to mid-1780s had been French and German nobles (in Boulogne with Prince Auguste d’Aremberg. bad judgement. racy footnotes to the grand narrative of female distress. 60]). Gooch. they assume both adaptive and oppositional positions to the models of morality and sexual propriety set up by their social class. vol. and coming of age during her country’s war of independence. her Memoir presages feminist fictions by Wollstonecraft.. structuring her narrative so that her sexual conduct must be interpreted as a logical extension both of masculine political principle and a quintessential feminine nature. born in England and the daughter of a Portuguese father. victim of an unforgiving economy” [14]. and Fenwick. p. assume the status of peccadilloes. born in America of a Scottish father and mother. her taste in landscape and habitation take precedence even over her duty to her father. in which “the action is inevitably economic. Their confessions. and fickleness characterising typical critiques of the beau monde. Hays. writes during the time of the French Revolution... She narrates a series of episodes in which she escapes enclosed and inhospitable spaces for the freedom to pleasure in beauty. 2. and civility. vol. known my independence – nay. p.

At table. she proposes instead his enemy. imprisoning her in her apartment and subjecting her to the remonstrances of her brother until she capitulates. she is further debased by physical constraint and emotional outrage after their wedding in New York (28 February 1777). as I really hated the man whom they had compelled me to marry” (Memoirs. than an honourable prostitution. Having described her preferred lover as “My Conqueror. she is equally bold with the chief of republican generals. when on her return to Elizabethtown a party of republican “Riflemen” from Pennsylvania present “their bayonets to my breast. vol. vol. George Washington. fatally violated. Thus procured. wedded not to his body. vol. on the other side of the water’” (Memoirs. 23). on the occasion of his keeping her hostage for a brief period. leaving her alone on the ship to contend with “the various insults” and “arts of seduction” of the 367 . 1.. vol. given that her physicality literally disarms his political enemies. than for the huricane [sic] of dissipation on which I have been wrecked. whom the immutable. who subdued my virgin heart. Where the anonymous hero has been moved to mercy upon beholding the maiden’s face. for in Coghlan’s company she is forced to consort with “libertines” and “women of doubtful character” (Memoirs. 78). 1. The rhetorical weight Coghlan brings to bear on the event.” one of them “discover[ed] in my features something which conquered his savage purpose” and he relents (Memoirs. p. then. (Memoirs. the barbarous custom of society. 44). signals it as an aetiology of her subsequent sexual profligacy: Oh! may these pages one day meet the eye of him. During this period in King’s Bridge as Washington’s prisoner of war. for if I know my own heart. he disembarks. – I will overlook your indiscretion. 1. it is far better calculated for the purer joys of domestic life... p. To him I plighted my virgin vow. and I shall never cease to lament that obedience to a father left it incomplete . vol. p. 1. 1.THE COURTESAN’S PROGRESS “gloomy” (Memoirs. Coghlan meets her true love. vol. After a voyage to the west coast of Ireland during which he is so brutal to her as to earn the warnings of the commander. “General Howe”. which she describes in an uncharacteristically overwrought paean. who are her spiritual kin.. 71). p. p. her father’s caution is irrelevant. but whose sacred decree. Coghlan remains faithful throughout her life to this anonymous husband. pp.” (Memoirs. pp. Hence. a republican. Her father ruthlessly imposes instead an unwanted marriage with British lieutenant John Coghlan. 1.. vol. 1.. the national hero is persuaded to counter the young girl’s impertinence with charm: “‘Well Miss. he toasts “the congress”. 34-35). As it happens. 25). on condition that you drink my health . the first time you dine at Sir William Howe’s table. if she disobeys her father’s orders. Moreover. but to his principles of independence and freedom. unerring laws of nature had pointed out for my husband.” who “fought to liberate. 39-40) Implicitly. not to enslave nations . she protests that “My union with Mr Coghlan I never considered in any other light.

than I ever experienced. 85). again because she finds the setting “gloomy” (Memoirs. [a] plain country gentleman. 139-41). nations. p. vol. pp. where “the gallant sons of Hibernia” (Memoirs. p. before accepting the hospitality of a family friend. Her lively self-representation gives way to facetiousness. the fiction bears all the hallmarks of contemporary pornographic narrative. she suffers one last Gothic episode. and others of a similar description. vol. in . She goes so far as to assert that she is no “friend to arbitrary principles.. 1.Rhoda Zuk remaining “6 or 7 hundred men” (Memoirs. that I am to be considered a convert to his political notions” (Memoirs. evidence of the pseudonymous author persists throughout the second volume as well. Captain B. She hints of being mistress to Charles Fox (and that he is father of her daughter)..[16] Subsequently. she transposes the question of sexual fidelity to one of her intellectual and moral stability as a sophisticated citizen of the world. an exile to a convent in France. the close of the first volume of Coghlan’s memoir is marked by a jarring shift in tone and theme. 81-82). self-mockery. However. the degree of a man’s courtesy and liberality in his dealings with her is an index of his masculine virtue. 1. (whose two sons are alive at the time of her writing). 129). Coghlan writes herself as a lady whose series of complicated alliances with men of different classes. jingoistic tale. Lord John Augustus Hervey (her daughter by him dies). p. and convictions prove her a worthy object of devotion. vol.. Moreover. vol. Fazakerly. and positive contempt for lovers. p. “my humble roof was often visited by princes of the Blood Royal. with whom she tours Europe. He transmutes Coghlan’s story and style into a jaunty.[18] Keeping in mind that misogyny at once creates and reflects masculine unease with “social inequity” [19]. vol. Indeed. from which she elopes. vol. Overall. 1. the pseudonymous author’s motive for refracting Coghlan’s life through an alternative generic lens should not. p.. she sets out as “a solitary fugitive” (Memoirs. As she has in the case of her filial disobedience in America. Coghlan invokes landscape and the chivalric masculine rebel in relating the tale of her wifely disobedience: having escaped. I have found more liberality of sentiment. 88) to Scotland’s wilds. On his return from London. Lord Thomas Clinton (later Lincoln). 104). pp. 1. 1. from a certain Duke of Royal Lineage” [17] (Memoirs. some episodes are peppered with a range of rather stale classical references. and her glory days in the preferred surroundings of London begin. 87) proffer themselves. during the journey through Wales with her husband. 368 . some of which purport to be authentic. nor is it because I admire the man. As a whole. he reacts to gossip about her conduct in Dublin [15] and determines to incarcerate her “in an old mansion” in Wales (Memoirs. While mistress to a Mr Giffard. vol. 1. and by Nobles of the highest distinction . 1. The cumulative effect of her history lends force to judgements that might otherwise be categorised as gossip or hackneyed gestures of humility. more candour and ingenuousness.

vol. 1. like Gooch. he transvalues Coghlan’s self-constructed persona. 2. he uses Coghlan’s voice to articulate criticism of French loyalist sympathies in the face of aristocratic excess and despotism and to justify the incorporation of courtesans into a responsible social order: “while Gallia’s Refractory Sons are revelling on the Fruits of British Benevolence. The fault line between feminist and anti-feminist writer emerges: Coghlan. 156-157) 369 . 2. To elaborate upon Coghlan’s distress and exalt her sexual humiliation and maternal pathos is to sustain an alternative form of male supremacy. He objects in his preface to the influx of French monarchists into England as a drain on the economy at the expense both of Margaret Coghlan and the Spitalfields weavers (descended from Huguenots): We read of Titled Individuals bestowing Hundreds in behalf of Emigrant Popish Priests. is in this context a consequentialist argument which forwards a newly tolerant masculine sensibility. her delicate sensuality prompts a call for the exercise of male sentiment and generosity. and particularly to that circle of society. in a filthy dungeon: she needs to be rescued from the perils of her physicality. industrious. poor. And so the final passages of the second volume exhort the reader to help clear Coghlan’s supposed debt of £400: She submits her simple narrative to the Public. p. in contrast. that she who never sued in vain. (Memoirs. unattended. his text exploits the woman by way of lodging a serious political protest against anti-Jacobin policies. while One Solitary Guinea is prefixed to the same Names in Support of their own Countrymen. Rather. assumes the stance of the libertine: he has no quarrel with the “public” woman. p. should now apply in vain. At the same time. formidably articulate. the construction of her as pitiable because fallen from splendour and reduced to solitary birth-agony.THE COURTESAN’S PROGRESS perhaps. and unfairly compromised lady by displaying her as a temperamentally buoyant. Her imaginary plight. vol. – Let it not be said. in fact. vol. He emphasises Coghlan’s natural immediacy in inventing a scene in which she undergoes childbirth. let it not be said that Britannia’s Legitimate Children ever sighed or wept in vain!” (Memoirs. in which she herself was wont to figure. xx). prepossessing. pp. be dismissed as merely expedient or scurrilous. The anonymous writer. famished Manufacturers! (Memoirs. in the soft hours of luxurious dalliance. counters conventional arguments concerning women’s proper disposal within marriage both by blatant assertions of her intrinsic dignity and the details of her abuse in the domestic sphere. that of an honourable. iii) Throughout the second volume. with some degree of eclat. but sexually available and easily reducible lady who deserves to be pensioned off as a reward for her distinctive presence in salons and her sexual service in bedchambers. when she is fain to believe that she exhibits some testimony of her claim to their protection.

Gooch too foregrounds both her aestheticism and her need for masculine compassion in protesting her early disgrace. p. at the very end of Life. like Coghlan. Gooch claims that her husband concocts a scandal on the basis of her friendship with another Italian. Gooch. whose father died in her infancy and whose beloved stepfather died when she was aged ten.[20] Evoking the relationship of Mary. 140). in a rhapsodic description of her pilgrimage to Mary’s residences and gardens in Scotland. she will meet him in heaven: “My FIRST attachment will be my LAST . The next night. for “the infinite service my health would derive from the Spa waters . She declares that her love of music is “the rock on which it was ordained for me to split” (Appeal. deceit. vol. 3. 1. vol. In marrying the fortune-hunter William Gooch. 46). vol. she has to be bled because “overheated with dancing” with her devilish suitor (Life. and legal chicanery characterising the courtship persists into her marriage and her life as a kept woman: time and again. Her mother’s crime in forbidding that courtship and marriage reduces her to agony. William Gooch. 7). who more than once reduces her to hysterics. p. p.Rhoda Zuk Whereas Coghlan. p. However. and her “arm began to bleed afresh” (Life. her connection with Queen Mary. 370 . “S.. 49). She reiterates. indeed. Gooch. jewels.[21] In what amounts to a trope of the scandalous woman. hoping that he will “give a tear to my hard fate!” – if he is alive. imprisonment. Gooch threatens legal action for breach of promise should she refuse him. whose clear entitlement to position was in contrast to her actual experience of betrayal.. and her inheritance.” (Life. is bad for her health. the singing master” (Appeal. vol. trunks. travelling through landscape to encounter heroes. she is merely transposed to another cruel regime. yearns for paternal protection and excoriates her mother’s cold and calculating conduct as unnatural. Shortly after she meets him at Bath. the potent combination of physical brutality. 46). she is consistently careless of her daughter’s deepest feelings and physical and economic well-being.. 46). for Dr Thomas Crawford. they dance. and even horror. and not suffered to breathe” (Life. They were married 13 May 1775. Queen of Scots and her dearest counsellor. again.” (Life. she is hurried into illegitimate and mostly unsatisfactory liaisons and bullied and cheated out of the heart’s blood of the gentlewoman’s existence: her two sons. she is “hurried into marriage. rebels against the orthodoxies of male authority. She is insistent enough about the crucial importance of the humble Crawford that she returns to the theme in the last passage of her Life. whose mother died when she was aged three. 1. like her mother. if not. excuses her polygamous conduct by canvassing the circumstances of her original sexual love. 1. 1. vol. If Coghlan flees restriction. Both orphans express their psychological integrity and distinctive quests for emotional compensation through schematic representation of their affiliation with beauty and concomitant desire for sympathy from men.. She objects when he proposes (hypocritically) her “going off with him” to the Continent. p. the musician David Rizzio. p. Rauzzini. p. 7).

3. social. vol. vol. 3. gowns. In each of Appeal and Life. obey the Bishop in all things. her family acts immediately upon the publication of Appeal. p. in the period after her husband abandons her there. 64). so the people of Lisle. precluded not only from seeing or writing to anyone.. and pain are denied. 3. “renounce EVERY former acquaintance and correspondence with any person whatever”. 72). and the equally mortifying idea of becoming dependent on their bounty. usurers. Gooch rejects maternal house arrest to return to the stage. to take on literary pursuits. plunder” her “miserable shelf” (Appeal. and other agents trick her into signing away her rights to property and relinquishing crucial documents. letters. “enormous rats . p. p. 87). If Gooch’s sentiments. Her self-publicity wins their attention.THE COURTESAN’S PROGRESS harpsichords. which are cruelly “soldered” in her coffin (Life. Gooch explains her defiance of their conditions for acceptance and maintenance.. Certainly. origins. vol. she is invited back “as a repentant sinner. 40). her only paternal relative. I wished to return to them.. 2. vol. I have a soul that will never bend under the yokes of tyranny and oppression” (Life. text plays an even more inimical role in her life: her husband imposes an incriminating narrative on an anonymous letter she has received..” (Life. Gooch finds that her speech has no performative value. my family condescended to recollect that I was one of it . She finally leaves because disgusted by “the manner in which I was watched there. p. vol. but on being prevented from viewing her remains. her family’s letters of advice and invitation are kept from her. they demand that she agree to a set of humiliating conditions: she must board with a family of their choosing in the countryside... p. Lawyers. intentions.. In the midst of Gooch’s harrowing tale of banishment from her matrimonial home on the basis of spurious allegations of 371 . 3. was a consideration my spirit could not brook” (Appeal. not as an injured child! . and hers to them withheld. 64). vol. and pay out forty pounds of her competence per annum until her debts are paid (Life. In the end.. p. Throughout this nightmare of material. but the idea of being received with reproaches. They also stipulate that she assume an alias. Just as her mother will not listen to her. 122).. Even in debtor’s prison. she complains to the Marquis de Genlis that the luxurious bed he had installed her in is infested: “A thousand. and affective deprivation. she is bitter on being denied not just an inheritance from an aunt. written from debtor’s prison: “As soon as the book was advertised. Her slovenly host disbelieves her. but does not vindicate her or reform them. 68). but before her first affair. In another paradigmatic episode. doubt the authenticity of her name. but primarily. believing that “Mrs. p. I had no other voucher for my authenticity than my word” (Life. books and manuscripts. Gooch” is an alias..[22] The welter of details she provides serves to frame and justify her refusal to be recontained within her family. p. so that they then accuse her of callousness and intransigence. 2. However. but even from walking out to take the air . and “. In the first case. 85). I may indeed say a million of bugs covered me” (Life.

Queen of Scots’ romantic tragedy. That she went on to become a published novelist constitutes a plangent illustration of feminine self-invention and self-support. At the same time. or the Wandering Penitent”. p. The lady did not long enjoy the meretricious grandeur to which she had been raised . morning preacher at the Lock Hospital. Reverend James Fordyce in Sermons to Young Women (1765) “telescopes the entire convention” regarding fiction’s moral danger in communicating that “reading certain novels is equivalent to being a prostitute”. on the evidence of her biography of the writer Thomas Bellamy (1801). 1. She is also lending the weight of authority and interest to such of Bellamy’s writings as “Fatal Effects of Seduction” and “Sadaski. A vital correspondence between lived experience and fiction is therefore deftly promoted. Gooch thus honours male virtue. assessing Bellamy’s failed endeavours both sympathetically and shrewdly. it is her staunch belief in her virtue and social entitlement that ultimately qualifies her as a voice of the professionalised middle class. it is Bellamy who is the noble victim. Gooch’s language here might intend to invoke a striking contrast between her own history and pure intentions and those of a woman tempted by greed to enter a life of sexual immorality.[23] In fashioning the tale of her scandalous life in the mode of Mary. As Markman Ellis explains. in applauding Bellamy’s determination to rise above his class expectations (he began as a printer’s assistant) by entering an uncertain career as writer and magazine publisher. Gooch casts herself in the role of sentimental heroine and in effect recuperates the genre of sentimental fiction – redeems it for and from the moralists. she bolsters her claim to innocence with the lament that she had to that point not been sullied by so much as the influence of fiction: “I had never even read a novel . she describes the strain of earning a living in the literary marketplace. and. Gooch proceeds to emphasise Bellamy’s status as a man of feeling by providing evidence of his strict virtue and disinterested concern for women: he had a close association with Rev. Gooch positions herself as a proponent of individual merit. 123). xxv)..Rhoda Zuk adultery. his close association with actresses in his capacity as a theatre reviewer “had no improper effect” (p. a man who was her social inferior. as a formative event in Bellamy’s life. Gooch’s biography. Indeed. implies the redundancy of conventional class and gender distinctions even as it assumes that scrupulous 372 . vol. At least one biographical commentator has observed that a degree of selfpity infuses Gooch’s Appeal and Life. Further. This is a telling protest. his disappointment in a woman who cast him aside because she “preferred being the concubine of some more wealthy suitor. in the knowledge of the world I was as inexperienced as a girl of ten” (Life...” (p. he did not propose marriage to any other woman until shortly before his death. as proof of the depth of his youthful sentiments. then. viii). Thomas Scott.. since she died a year later. In her “Biographical Particulars”. The plaintiveness in these writings reflects a melancholy sense of alienation and frustrated principle that informs her novels. Gooch’s highly self-referential story dwells on.

in the mid-1780s. p. in the role of “Miss Rusport” in Cumberland’s The West Indian and that of Belvidera in Otway’s Venice Preserved. It is likely that she played the role of “Miss Spinster” in Every One Has His Fault in Scarborough in 1794. Coghlan. Fazakerly. one with particular significance for women’s literary tradition. and went by his name” (Life of Mrs. She acted for a brief time at Drury Lane. [2] Gooch reports meeting “the pretty Mrs. Correspondence Rhoda Zuk. and Other Stage Personnel in London. where she met Sheridan as well as Fox. 111). Notes [1] Completion of this research was made possible by a Mount Saint Vincent University research grant. they at once establish authority and delimit their sexualities within restrictive codes. who then lived with Mr. Kalman A. hoping to compel her family or her estranged husband to support her. Dancers. & Edward A. Nova Scotia B3M 2J6. with whom she had a long affair. Gooch and Coghlan’s texts instantiate a second paradox. She went on to Chester to take a role “in the tragedy of Percy” (Henry IV. The Harvard Theatre Collection houses an engraved portrait of Gooch (Philip H. in that the women insert themselves into a readerly economy that emancipates only to recontain their experiences. She performed in 1786 in Portsmouth. The tension between allegiance and resistance to domestic function characterises Gooch’s Appeal and Life and Memoirs of Mrs. Musicians. Gooch over time shapes a narrative of principled self-sufficiency. Part One?). Coghlan. Actresses. Managers. Burnim. 136). p. Langhans [1978] A Biographical Dictionary of Actors. Highfill. Halifax. 1. Coghlan. 373 . and in the early months of 1796 appeared at the Haymarket as Almeria in Congreve’s The Mourning Bride and as Lady Minikin in Bon Ton. The female writers and the pseudonymous author exceed their own prescriptive impulses to point toward unauthorised consciousness and conduct.THE COURTESAN’S PROGRESS and comprehensive self-discipline is crucial to men and women of her profession. Gooch chose the stage. 2. vol. Department of English. 1660-1800 [Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press]. vol. at the age of about seventeen. Such an antithetical reading of the fallen woman – as occasion for moralising and emblem of renewal – ensues no doubt because the parameters of democracy are at issue during the period. [3] Coghlan turned to the stage when an estranged wife. 6). vol. Gooch. By exploiting the conventions and subject positions available within sentimental narrative forms. Mount Saint Vincent University. If Coghlan’s self-representation in her memoirs has her defying the laws and practices of subordination to negotiate her own sexual contracts with men. after refusing her father’s suggestion that she “learn the Mantuamaking business” to earn her living (Memoirs of Mrs. Canada.

the 14th of July. or a Plain and Explicit Narrative (London. p. 1792) prompted the Prince of Wales to write to Queen Charlotte “denouncing it as ‘the most infamous and shocking libellous production that ever disgraced the pen of man’” (quoted in Edmund Frow & Ruth Frow [1981] “Notes on Bibliography: Charles Pigott and Richard Lee: Radical Propagandists”. It presages Revolution . Bulletin for the Society of Labour History. p. 2. praising her “literary merit”. [9] Felicity Nussbaum (1989) The Autobiographical Subject (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press). Gunning (London. 1796). 1801). 1797) and Monody to the Memory of His Grace the Duke of Bedford (London.. 1751). or.. but scoffing at her liaison with royalty ([1794] The Female Jockey Club. xiii). 1802).. 1789. Facts. Teresia Constantia Phillips (London. those scenes of horror that have so long tortured the sight. London: Oxford University Press]. Pigott was “One of the best-known radical writers of the early 1790s . 1795). she says. Susannah Gunning. 1748-54). The Yoke Of Slavery. Charlotte Charke (London. Charlotte Charke.” (Nicholas Rogers [1990] “Crowd and People in the Gordon Riots”. Sherwood Forest (London.. Lady Sarah Pennington is anomalous in so far as she regains her reputation in the very act of repenting for it in her conduct book. and disgraced the policy of social institutions!” (Memoirs of Mrs.” (George Claeys [1995] Political Writings of the 1790s. she also composed a life for and completed Thomas Bellamy’s The Beggar Boy. Letter from Mrs. 42. Margaret Caroline Rudd. Viscountess Vane. [5] Pigott devotes a brief chapter to “Mrs. if a new order of things be destined to succeed. Coghlan. 203]). 1761). in The Transformation of Political Culture: England and Germany in the Late Eighteenth Century [The German Historical Institute.Rhoda Zuk [4] Pigott’s satirical The Jockey Club (London. 1785). 1793) as well as a poem in the Monthly Mirror (London. vol. Fancied Events or. Memoirs of a Lady of Quality (London. To which are prefixed Biographical Particulars by Mrs. “was not calculated for a subordinate position” (“Life. 1801). when Frenchmen threw off for ever. 2. 1791). 1799). p. banish from the face of the earth. The Wanderings of the Imagination (London. It threatens destruction to long established systems – to long established orders. 1748-49). George Anne Bellamy. pp. 1804). Villa-Real Gooch (London. [10] Laetitia Pilkington. five novels. Teresia Constantia Phillips. 37-39).. An Unfortunate Mother’s Advice to Her Absent Daughters (London. [8] Bellamy. an essay collection.. Coghlan” in this text. vol. Memoirs (London. 1755). p.” The Beggar Boy. 137. [6] “That glorious Epoch. 32). who “represented the extreme wing of a rapidly changing radical movement . A Sketch of the Manners of the Age [London. Truth and Fiction (London. p. – Oh! May that day yield an awful and impressive lesson! – It forms an aera replete with events. An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy (London. she published a translation of Charlotte Bouman-Mallarmé’s Can We Doubt It? (1804). may humanity still profit by the change! – may a more equal distribution of sublunary enjoyments. including The Contrast (London. 1775). 374 . p. A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. 55). The Sorrows of Ellen (London. An Apology for the Conduct of Mrs. [7] Poems on Several Occasions (London. 118). still in the womb of time to produce. finally.

MA and London: Harvard University Press]. 243... All further page references are given in the text. appears in the ersatz Coghlan’s cast of characters. Archer . if not all. Pigott may have mined Gooch’s writings.. or. [21] The inclusion of Scottish (and Welsh) episodes by each of Gooch and Coghlan only partially illustrates Todd’s argument concerning the sentimental appropriation ensuing upon the colonisation of Scotland and Wales – that these countries “were being transformed from breeding grounds for civil upheavals into mental and physical tourist areas” (Janet Todd [1989] The Sign of Angellica: Women. written by herself.. Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies. now Mrs. [18] Many pornographic memoirs of obviously fictional courtesans are extant: Memoirs of Antonina. [13] Anthony Fletcher (1995) Gender. in which are given anecdotes.. [19] Laura Mandell (1999) Misogynous Economies: The Business of Literature in EighteenthCentury Britain (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky). 1797). p. Margaret Leeson. Coghlan links her rebellion to the Hibernian one. Women. written by herself. and . was published 1788-93. 158. 102). 1660-1833 [Cambridge. until the age of nine.. All further page references are given in the text. 1791) is typical. 1675-1760 (London: Routledge). along with her older brother. Writing and Fiction.THE COURTESAN’S PROGRESS [11] Clare Brant (1992) “Speaking Women: Scandal and the Law in the MidEighteenth Century”. [14] Edward Copeland (1995) Women Writing about Money: Women’s Fiction in England. [20] Publication of a song.. [16] Coghlan may be constructing an invidious distinction between her father. p. Man of Pleasure’s Kalendar. 1660-1800 [New York: Columbia University Press]. It is worth noting that one of Elizabeth Gooch’s continental lovers. 7. p. [15] Her sojourn in Dublin marks a return. p.. “reasserted public control over the marital relationship. [17] Probably the Duke of York. a Scot. Sex and Subordination in England 1500-1800 (New Haven and London: Yale). including both verse and score. Queen of Abo (London. and Gooch perceives her contemporary plight as reflecting the political as well as emotional persecution of the Queen. revived patriarchal structures temporarily overcome by contract” (Susan Staves [1990] Married Women’s Separate Property in England. p. 1802) is evidence of her interest in music. p. and his nationalist countrymen. a catalogue of prostitutes’ addresses and stock biographies. Memoirs of Mrs. [12] The courts had. Two specious texts are: Authentic and Interesting Memoirs of Miss Ann Sheldon. 375 . [22] Susan Staves asserts that “the technicalities of marriage settlements and property law generally were quite beyond the learning of almost all. (London. 1790-1820 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). xv. the Marquis de Genlis. Monody to the Memory of His Grace the Duke of Bedford (London. 175). she was schooled there. Texts and Histories. which have usually frequented her Citherean temple for these thirty years past . sketches of the lives and bon mots of some of the most celebrated characters of Great Britain and Ireland . by the late 1770s.

376 . Gender. and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (New York: Cambridge University Press). p. [23] Markman Ellis (1996) The Politics of Sensibility: Race.. p. 165..” (Married Women’s Property Rights. Gooch’s case illustrates that she was also bewildered by contracts relating to debt.Rhoda Zuk eighteenth-century women . 40).