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Charlotte Smith Full name Charlotte Turner Smith English poet, novelist, translator, and author of children's books. The following entry provides an overview of Smith's life and works.
A popular and prolific novelist and poet in her own time, Smith is remembered today for her sentimental novels and her role in the late eighteenth-century revival of the sonnet form which influenced such prominent figures of Romanticism as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In both prose and poetry, Smith went beyond the usual concerns of the woman writer to explore the social, political, and intellectual issues of her time—issues conventionally assigned to male writers.
Biographical Information Smith was born on May 4,to a wealthy London family who owned estates in Sussex and Surrey in addition to their London townhouse. Her mother, Anna Towers Turner, died three years after Smith's birth, leaving a maternal aunt to raise her while her father, Nicholas Turner, traveled abroad and nearly exhausted the family's funds.
Educated at schools in Kensington and Chichester, and by private tutors at home, Smith was an avid reader and began composing poetry at an early age. Her father's eventual return and remarriage to a wealthy woman prompted an arranged marriage for Smith at the age of 15 to Benjamin Smith, the son of a prosperous West Indian merchant.
Her young husband was extravagant, abusive, and profligate. He quickly drove the family into debt and depended on his wife to appeal to his father for more money. Inhe was incarcerated in debtors' prison, where Smith herself soon joined him. She began writing out of financial necessity in an effort to support her many children.
When her father-in-law died inhis will, intended to provide for his grandchildren and protect the estate from his unreliable son, ironically had the opposite effect.
The complexity of the will left Smith and her children unable to collect their much-needed inheritance.
Smith continued to write in order to provide for her children and to preserve their social standing, always believing her career as an author was merely a temporary necessity until the estate was settled. She obtained a legal separation from Benjamin inand although her husband hid from creditors in Scotland, he would often secretly return to England to claim Smith's book earnings as well as the interest on her marriage settlement—both of which he was legally entitled to receive.
During these years Smith helped to establish her children in marriages and careers, struggled with her many creditors, and begged publishers for advances on her books.
She never achieved the financial stability that would allow her to retire. Major Works Smith's first publication, Elegiac Sonnets, and Other Essayswas a collection of various poems she had written over the years and rather hastily assembled while her husband was in debtors' prison.
In when Benjamin fled to France to escape his creditors, Smith accompanied him. After her separation from her husband inSmith turned to novel writing in an attempt to generate income to support her large family.
Her first novel, Emmelinemet with both popular and critical acclaim and was quickly followed by Ethelinde and Celestina Considered by some critics a blending of elements of both the sentimental novel and the Gothic novel, these first three works all feature virtuous young heroines in distress, a standard feature of the sentimental genre, along with the poetic landscape descriptions characteristic of the Gothic.
Smith's fourth novel, Desmondproved a turning point for Smith's career as she changed focus from the subject of proper female conduct that marked her first three novels to political issues, specifically those inspired by the French Revolution.
Many critics, in fact, believe that Desmond was a direct response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. Her succeeding novels also dealt with political concerns, although none with the stridency of Desmond.
In all, Smith produced ten novels from to Smith also produced several books for children—primarily didactic works designed to teach such virtues as charity, fortitude, and humility—and two more volumes of poetry.Head to Head: A World of Computers Essay - Head to Head: A World of Computers The world has come a long way with its development of technology.
Day-by-day the people who are using and relying on technology have dramatically increased. Her final work of poetry, Beachy Head with Other Poems (), was published posthumously.
Critical Reception Smith's books—particularly her sonnets—were well received by her contemporaries. Although Beachy Head is a rich, multi-faceted text, because of its meddling of genres, its powerful imagery, and its historical and scientifically informed footnotes, it is Smith’s narrative technique that infuses this mixture with meaning.
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