Clara Reeve's Progress of Romance and the Female Critic in the 18th Century


Correspondence: Department of Comparative Literature and Scandinavian Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Email:


Clara Reeve's The Progress of Romance (1785) is of very few literary historical works written in the dialogue form by female authors in the 18th century. Extending over two volumes The Progress of Romance is significant in several ways; both as a part of the rich British tradition of literary history writing and genre theory, and as a contribution to the tradition of female literary history which was initiated by Elizabeth Rowe and Susan Dobson earlier in the 18th century. Reeve writes about the general history of romance, and of its reputation and reception. But how does the fact that she is of the underrepresented sex in scholarly work of her time affect her text?