Perhaps best known for her friendship with William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft in the 1790s, Eliza Fenwick’s own extraordinary life story has been somewhat overlooked by historians and literary scholars. After around a decade of moving in London’s radical and intellectual circles, Eliza Fenwick (1766–1840) left her spendthrift and alcoholic husband, John, and embarked on various projects in order to provide for her children, including taking up positions as a governess for wealthy families and writing children’s literature. In 1814, shortly after her daughter moved to Barbados to join an acting company, Fenwick made the decision to follow her, and emigrated to the West Indies with her son. There the two women opened their first school for young ladies. Despite regular upheavals (the family moved to New York and Toronto before Eliza eventually settled in Rhode Island) Eliza found her niche in running schools for girls, although whether she was...

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