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Short biography
Delariviere Manley was the daughter of Sir Roger Manley, a Royalist army officer serving as lieutenant governor of the Channel Islands, and a Portugese woman. She and her sister followed him to his various postings. After his death, she was duped into marriage with her cousin and guardian, John Manley, a Member of Parliament who was already married and who quickly squandered her inheritance and then deserted her and their infant son. Mrs. Manley spent six months as a companion to Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, former mistress of King Charles II, and then took up writing to support herself. She was a passionate lifelong Tory and her work put forward a skeptical, egalitarian vision shared by many leaders of the Enlightenment. Her earliest works were two plays, The Lost Lover and The Royal Mischief, both published in 1696. However, her most famous work, which made her notorious, was the political chronicle disguised as romantic fiction, The Secret Memoirs. . . of Several Persons of Quality (also called The New Atlantis), published in 1709. It was a daring and scandalous book that exposed the private vices of several Whig ministers who were ultimately driven out of office. Delariviere was arrested and charged with libel, but eventually escaped punishment. In 1711, Mrs. Manley succeeded Jonathon Swift as editor of The Examiner, becoming the first recorded professional female journalist. She wrote a fictionalized autobiography under the title of The Adventures of Rivella or The History of the Author of The New Atlantis (1714), which marked a complete departure from earlier women's memoirs that were religious-based. Her later works included the tragedy Lucius (1717), The Power of Love, in Seven Novels (1720) and A Stage Coach Journey to Exeter (1725), published posthumously. From 1714 until her death, she lived with John Barber, a printer and alderman. With Eliza Haywood and Aphra Behn, she was called one of The Fair triumvirate of Wit by poet Rev. James Sterling.
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