Charlotte Lennox, née Ramsay (she was christened Barbara), is most famous as the author of The Female Quixote (1752), one of the first novels by an American woman, and for her association with her contemporaries Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Richardson.
Very little is known about her early life. Charlotte Ramsay was the daughter of a British army officer, James Ramsey, who may have served as Lieutenant-Governor of New York, though she was probably born in Gibraltar. After her father’s death in about 1743, Charlotte travelled to England and may have tried stage acting before taking up writing to support herself. She published her first collection of verse, Poems on several Occasions, in 1747 and that same year married Alexander Lennox. It was followed by her first novel, The Life of Harriot Stuart (1749). Her next novel, The Female Quixote, published in 1752, made Charlotte Lennox one of the most popular and influential novelists of her era. She edited The Lady’s Museum magazine, and produced the first comparative study of William Shakespeare's source material, called Shakespear Illustrated (1753–54), a project in which Dr. Johnson may have assisted. Despite her literary fame, Charlotte Lennox earned very little from the sale of her books, and died impoverished.