Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

European Romantic Review

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1080/10509589708570035


when she was 24 years old (or so she claimed) and the beautiful toast of London literary circles. Her first novel. The Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer, was written when she was eighteen (or 28, depending on what biographical source one credits) and in the grip of an infatuation with the excessive gothicism of Lewis' The Monk} Dacre's novels by 1809 were ridiculed as "lovely ROSA's prose" by Byron, who went on to mock the novels as "prose in masquerade/Whose strains, the faithful echoes of her mind,/Leave wondering comprehension far behind" (English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, 756-58). Despite their improbabilities or more likely because of them, Zofloya was also an early influence on Percy Shelley, whose two youthful gothic novels, Zastrozzi (1810) and St. ¡rvyne; or The Rosicrucian (1811), bear a number of clear resemblances to Dacre's works. She and her four novels and two volume book of poetry are virtually forgotten today, but all of these works—most particularly Zofloya—are important historical documents for understanding how literature participated in the larger culture's attempt to rewrite appropriate feminine behavior as passionless, passively domestic, and pious. Dacre was no feminist, but as the daughter of a well-connected Jewish banker and supporter of radical political causes who was friendly with William Godwin, she certainly had every opportunity to absorb the gothic and feminist ambiences and she clearly would have had access to Wollstonecraft's writings. We know very little about Dacre's life, but one fact remains: in Zofloya she produced a virtual parody of Wollstonecraft's works and as such introduced Wollstonecraft's ideas—albeit in perverted form—to a larger reading audience.


Published Version. European Romantic Review, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1997): 185-199. DOI: 10.1080/10509589708570035. © 1997 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). Used With Permission.