Introduction to the Museum

Introduction to the Museum

Welcome to the virtual museum of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English Catholic women writers. This museum is the work of juniors and seniors at Seton Hall University enrolled in my course, ENGL 3382/CORE 3382/WMST 3382: English Catholic Women Writers of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries during fall 2014. Each exhibit is the work of one student who has selected a topic related in some way to our course material. I encourage you to visit all the exhibits, explore the results of their hard work and creativity, and enjoy.

One caveat: although the curators (students) have striven to uphold the highest standards of intellectual curiosity and scholarly rigor, please remember that the exhibits are the equivalent of an undergraduate research paper.

So come in and look around!

Karen Gevirtz, Associate Professor of English

Seton Hall University

Women writers engaged with Catholicism in a wide variety of ways.  Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1823) was born into Catholicism and practiced her faith throughout her life. In texts such as her novel, A Simple Story and her farce, The Mogul Tale, as well as her theater criticism, Inchbald directly addresses religious conflict within Catholicism and between Catholicism and other faiths.

In this sketch by Charles Dance, viewers may see Inchbald, the successful novelist, actress, and playwright in 1794.


Other women, like Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, were Catholic by choice. Her daughters, Mary and Anne, were raised Anglican because they were in line to the throne. The Duchess's conversion narrative speaks powerfully of the reasons she changed her faith and of her awareness of the political implications of her conversion.

This portrait of Anne with her husband, James, Duke of York, was painted by Sir Peter Lely in the 1660s. It hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.