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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?1559184">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Charlotte Lennox (1730–1804)

Author of The Female Quixote

Includes the names: Charlotte Lenox, Charlotte Lennox

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Charlotte Lennox, née Ramsay (she was christened Barbara), is most famous as the author of The Female Quixote (1752) and for her long association with Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Richardson. Very little is known about her early life. She was the daughter of a Scottish-born British officer, James Ramsey, who may have served as Lieutenant-Governor of New York, though she was probably born in Gibraltar. She lived in New York for several years, and after her father’s death around 1743, travelled to England. She may have tried 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, with whom she had two children, though the marriage was unhappy. Her first novel, The Life of Harriot Stuart, appeared in 1749. The Female Quixote, published in 1752, made her 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. Her play Old City Manners (1775), an adaptation of Ben Jonson's Eastwood Ho!, was produced by David Garrick and successfully performed at the Theatre Royal. Despite her literary fame, Charlotte Lennox earned very little from the sale of her books, and died impoverished.
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