(HAYLEY, William) The Young Widow; or, the History of Cornelia Sedley, in a series of letters. Four volumes. Printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson. 1789
, 242pp; , 267pp; , 297, p; , 378, pp ads, half title. 8vo. Some staining & foxing to text, most noticeable across first six leaves vol. II. Expertly bound in recent half sprinkled calf, raised & gilt banded spines, red morocco labels, marbled boards. Signature of what appears to read B. Hollis, Oct.13th 1795 at head of half titles.
¶ESTC T177867. In early 1789 Hayley is recorded as revising the proof sheets for four volumes which 'were nothing more or less than a novel, which a singular incident induced the poet to compose. It happened that in revising for his literary friend, Charlotte Smith, one of her novels in manuscript, he objected to her mode of terminating the story, and suggested a new train of occurrences for that purpose. The lady, of a most lively and powerful imagination, had anticipated the objections of her friendly critic, and forming from her own fancy a new catastrophe for her composition, had no occasion to avail herself of the poet's suggestion. The idea, however, that he had started, appeared too good to be utterly lost; and he was therefore tempted to build upon it the novel in a series of letters, which he entitled, The Young Widow, or the History of Cornelia Sedley. It was written with so pure a design to promote the interest of religion, that the author was tempted to send a handsome copy of the performance with [an] anonymous letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury'. (Ref: Memoirs of the Life and Writings of William Hayley. 1823.)