Looking at the bibliography highlights a lot of the arguments the various authors we have read (Armstrong, Mckeon, etc) are trying to make about the novel. The epistolary form is important, it makes the private oriented towards the public, women are central characters and thus deeply subjectified, etc, and we can see all this through the list of novels from 1776-1780.
In 1778, authors are sometimes, but not often, referred to on the title page—and when they are it is usually in reference to their other work rather than their name. Sometimes, it even says “by a young lady” which echoes the feminization of the novel that we read about in Northanger Abbey. However, when a novel’s author is referred to be name or at least Mr. ___, it is usually a male author. I found this interesting because the novel seems to be pretty clearly feminized in terms of both content and reception.
I also noticed that beginning in 1778, the title pages contain summaries or a kind of description of the novel. I wonder if this is because of the increasing popularity of the genre, and so there needed to be more of a way to distinguish different types of novels. Were people developing tastes for different genres within the novel? In 1778, it’s clear that the novel is becoming more defined as a category — some of the title pages in fact contain the word “novel”.
I was pretty interested in these title pages that seemed to be trying to “sell” their work with descriptions on the title page. The 1779 edition of Evelina does not have such a title page—the word Evelina is big, making her the central focus of the novel. Compared with The History of Miss Harriot Fairfax, from 1800, which has a lengthy overview of all the major plot points, Evelina’s title page is pretty bare. This is sort of reminiscent of what we’d see on the backs of books. Perhaps with the novel really coming into its own, there was more of a need to distinguish audiences and types of stories. Neither have the author listed on the title page, or at all in the preface, though Miss Harriot Fairfax’s title page says “written by a lady” and the first few lines warn that the novel was written by a woman. I found this interesting, that there was such an emphasis on the gender of the author even though clearly at the time, authors were not central to the way novels were marketed.