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Corvey ‘Adopt an Author’ |
Elisabeth Pinchard
The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University

Elisabeth Pinchard Contemporary Critical Reception.

Christina Giova

Research findings on the contemporary critical reception of Mrs Pinchard's work were scarce. Ward's Literary Reviews in British Periodicals 1798-1820 (1972) provided only two references, both referring to The Ward of Delamere. Their evaluations of the novel represents two very different opinions.

The New Monthly Magazine refers to the novel as an artful piece of work that has a good plot, sustaining the curiosity of the reader. The critic comments on Mrs Pinchard's character formation, saying that characters are 'unequally drawn' and that Lord Ennersdale whose character is said to be 'too highly shaded and distorted'. Overall, however, the novel is judged to be 'admirably written', 'the excellence of its moral tendency' serving, to the critic's opinion, as a 'forcible recommendation' (New Monthly Magazine, 1815, p.355).

The Monthly Review holds a very different opinion of The Ward of Delamere. The basic source of displeasure is 'the improbability of incident', as displayed most forcibly in the scene where Magdalena's 'all her relations, who were supposed to be dead or mad' turn up on her wedding-day. The critic also finds unnecessary and annoying the distress the heroine has to suffer, since, in his opinion, it could be avoided 'by a little candour and common sense'. Overall, the critic seems to have been negatively predisposed against The Ward of Delamere since he refers to the novel as an example of 'works of this class'. Incorrect language use is yet another source of displeasure and two of Mrs Pinchard's mistakes are pointed out: 'She stood suspended' (Vol.2, p267), and 'his acquirements are immense' (vol3, p.154); the latter even being corrected with the appropriate word: acquisitions. Only one positive aspect of The Ward of Delamere is pointed out. In one short sentence the critic regards 'some female characters as well drawn' (Monthly Review, 1815, pp.324-5).