Mary Davys (1529 words)

Martha F. Bowden (Kennesaw State University)
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Mary Davys is best known for her contribution to the early development of the novel in English. Her three best works, The Reform’d Coquet, Familiar Letters Betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady, and The Accomplish’d Rake, are distinctive for their adroit formal structure and witty dialogue. She was conscious of the need for form in fiction, notable in a period when the novel was often episodic rather than structured. As she explains in the Preface to her collected works:

I have in every Novel propos’d one entire Scheme or Plot, and the other Adventures are only incident or collateral to it; which is the great Rule prescribed by the Criticks, not only in Tragedy and other Heroick Poems, but i…

Citation: Bowden, Martha F.. "Mary Davys". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 August 2005 [, accessed 21 June 2021.]

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