Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Memoirs Of Emma Courtney” as Want to Read:
Memoirs Of Emma Courtney
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Memoirs Of Emma Courtney

2.98  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Memoirs of Emma Courtney is one of the most articulate and detailed expressions of the yearnings and frustrations of a woman living in late eighteenth-century English society. It questions marital arrangements and courtship rituals by depicting a woman who actively pursues the man she loves.
In this first fully annotated edition of a key sentimental novel, Hays reveals the
Published January 25th 2000 by Broadview Press Inc (first published 1796)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Memoirs Of Emma Courtney, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Memoirs Of Emma Courtney

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 07, 2013 Katelyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The plot doesn't progress at all throughout the middle 100 pages, and then ten million things happen right at the end.
I read this book as part of a class called "Regency Women Writers"

Although there is much to mock about this book (especially the last 50 pages or so, which pretty much devolve into sentimental melodrama) I was actually pleasantly surprised by this book. I found Hays' writing style much more engaging than that of Wollstonecraft, whilst she manages to touch on many of the same fascinating issues as her more-celebrated counterpart.

This is an extraordinary book, in many ways, blending as it does th
This book is in the tradition of Mary Wollstonecraft's Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman and William Godwin's Things as they Are; or, the Adventures of Caleb Williams, but it's fascinating in its own right for a few reasons:

1. It's a deliberately experimental text that includes correspondence from Hays's own life.

2. It plumbs the previously unexplored depths of female psychology, including female desire and sexuality (which made it quite scandalous for the 1790s).

3. It was notoriously poorly receive
Kate Elizabeth
Emma Courtney is a crazy stalker.
Mar 08, 2017 Sarah rated it it was ok
Had to demote this book from a 3 to a 2 upon re-reading. I think the 3 was in honour of the professor I had in one of my favourite university modules that loved this book rather than my genuine enjoyment! The introspective philosophising was too much for my morning commute so Todmorden's station library has gained one more melodramatic 18th century epistle with a feminist lean.
Laura Mercz
Mar 09, 2017 Laura Mercz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved this one! The story consumed me and the protagonists tragic dialogue made it an intense&gripping experience. MelbUni did not disappoint with this one.
Jenn McCollum
Mary Hays is an eighteenth-century author obsessed with proving that she -- like her romantic contemporaries -- can use highfaluting language as an argument for virtue: her own virtue. Memoirs of Emma Courtney is not an easy read although it is short, but the pay-offs are big. My jaw was hanging down to my feet from practically the first page. I have rarely -- never? -- encountered such a female heroine in English literature in my oh-so-many dimly-lit reading escapades of reading frenzies.

At fir
Rachel Brand
Read for EN4363: Romantic Writing and Women.

I was confused by all the negative reviews when I began reading this book, but now as I come to a close, I can understand the complaints. This novel initially captivated me, and I was surprised to find some of the elements of Emma's life akin to those you'd come across in an Austen novel--a young woman passed between relatives due to deaths in her family, an unusual upbringing giving her a freedom to study typically unfeminine subjects, ultimately culm
Grace Harwood
This is an interesting book, not least because Hays used real letters from her correspondence with William Godwin in the book (and it is conjectured that she used real love letters sent to William Frend - a man she was in love with, but who did not reciprocate her feelings - also in the text).

It's a strange bildungsroman relating the story of Emma Courtney, a poor relation with little money, and her adventures. I say adventures, but there's not much to the events in her life, and basically she
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 12, 2014 Kellyk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel follows most eighteenth century plots, where characters are engulfed by societal standards that they must ultimately transcend or succumb to gendered standards. However, Emma Courtney, the protagonist and writer of this epistolary novel, does not succeed in any of her premeditated goals to "step outside of the magic circle" imposed on women by the laws of society. Instead, she continues to pursue Augustus Harley -- the keeper of her heart -- who ignores her and denies her. It's almost ...more
Margaret Curry "My workout is reading in bed until my arms
An epistolary novel, I read this book for EN 292: Early Romantic Literature. I found it weird how names and places were blanked out, and wasn't impressed to come across several spelling errors. I'm not sure if an excess of commas was regular practice back when this book was written, but I found it didn't flow nicely due to the constant breaks.

Favourite Quotes:
"...though all are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them."

" strong affection, one ardent incitement,
Jan 10, 2010 Jaimie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs of Emma Courtney illustrates the gender ideals and constructions that society placed upon men and women in the late 18th century into the early 19th century. The novel revolves around the life of Emma Courtney. She narrates the story of her life in England: her early education, the deaths of her caretakers at an early age, her enduring and persistent love of a man named Augustus Harley and her struggle to survive in a world in which she felt "crushed by the iron hand of barbarous despoti ...more
Carolyn Davis
Feb 10, 2015 Carolyn Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm legitimately surprised that this book isn't more popular with critics, because it really seems to have great relevance to anyone studying early feminist or post-(French)revolutionary radical thought among people like Mary Wollstonecraft. In some ways it's your standard epistolary sentimental novel, but it surprises you at turns with some really well-reasoned attempts to engage with the anti-royalist debate on liberty.
Amy Norris
Pacing is all off - nothing happens until the last thirty pages, and then every possible storyline begins and is concluded within a couple of paragraphs. Madness. Hays is fundamentally obsessed with weeping and quoting Rousseau on every single page.
Dec 07, 2009 J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the end, the only thing I truly enjoyed about the book was mocking it. Ouch. See my blog entry....

I'm not sure what rating to give this book, I both enjoyed it and found myself extremely annoyed by it. I think I'll hold off until I re-read it for my class to review it.
Feb 23, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odd in an interesting way. Based highly on Hays's own life, it's really some sociopolitical ideas concerning women and the sensibility/reason debate held together with a thin narrative.
Alanna Myers
Great proto-feminist read
Nov 10, 2012 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
Free download at Gutenberg Project.
Miranda Hale
Nov 22, 2016 Miranda Hale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college, 2016
I read about 50 pages of this. I think it would be interesting enough to return to, but I don't have a great desire to do so. I didn't /dislike/ it though.
Hannah rated it liked it
Nov 17, 2011
Kate Oman
Kate Oman rated it it was ok
Apr 13, 2016
Eternalfootman rated it it was amazing
Dec 22, 2016
Leah rated it liked it
Feb 24, 2016
Megan rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2017
Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2011
Hannah rated it it was ok
Jun 02, 2017
Wortumdrehung rated it liked it
Jun 20, 2013
Ryan Healey
Ryan Healey rated it it was ok
Nov 03, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Marriage
  • Anti-Pamela and Shamela
  • A Simple Story
  • Complete Short Stories, Vol 2
  • The Power of Sympathy and the Coquette
  • The Beggar's Opera
  • The Barber of Seville / The Marriage of Figaro / The Guilty Mother
  • The Old English Baron
  • Emmeline
  • The Vindications: The Rights of Men and the Rights of Woman (2 in 1)
  • Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism
  • Poor Miss Finch
  • Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist
  • Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman
  • The Midnight
  • Poems Between Women: Four Centuries of Love, Romantic Friendship, and Desire
  • Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels
  • Millenium Hall

Share This Book