Charlotte Temple, the most popular novel in America until Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, went through over 200 editions. It tells of a beautiful English girl who at the age of 15 is courted by and runs away with a British lieutenant named Montraville.
Susanna Rowson, the daughter of a British naval officer, was one of the most accomplished women of the early national period. Actress, song-writer, novelist, poet, dramatist, and essayist, she was also the founder of one of the most progressive academies for young women of her day. She remained best-known, however, for Charlotte Temple, a novel that promised to be "of service to [the]...young and unprotected woman in her first entrance into life."
In her Introduction, Cathy Davidson discusses the enormous popularity of the book and the life of Susanna Rowson, which was even more sensational than those of the characters depicted in the novel.
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