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The Reform'd Coquette (1724) tells the story of Amoranda, a good but flighty young woman whose tendency toward careless behavior is finally tamed. Familiar Letters Betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady (1725), a satire of both political debate and women's place in society, portrays a Tory man and a Whig woman who find themselves discussing love, even though they have pledged to remain platonic friends. The Accomplish'd Rake (1727) follows the exploits of Sir John Galliard from youth to manhood, when he is forced to accept responsibility for his actions. Mary Davys (1674?-1732) was one of the earliest female novelists in Britain, and after the death of her husband she supported herself by writing and running a coffeehouse. Her writing sparkles, especially in its witty dialogue. Although these three short epistolary novels are framed in a clear moral universe in which virtue is rewarded and transgressions is punished, her works are not overtly religious and punishment is as likely to come from society as from providence.
Martha F. Bowden is assistant professor of English at Kennesaw State University.
An elegantly written and useful introduction makes the most of the sketchy historical record of Davys’s life. -- Choice
The novels, along with Bowden’s introduction, lend themselves to a spirited classroom discussion. -- East-Central Intelligencer
The novels are a delightful surprise. Not merely of scholarly, historical, or contextual interest, they were entertaining and engaging—in short, good reads. -- Jane Austen Society of North America Newsletter
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Davys, Mary and Bowden, Martha F., "The Reform'd Coquet, Familiar Letters Betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady, and The Accomplish'd Rake" (1999). Literature in English, British Isles. 4.