Suzanne J. Joshua

Suzanne J. Joshua

"I don't say it was likely--I only say it was true."- Elizabeth Inchbald, Lover's Vows

Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821)

Elizabeth Simpson was born on October 15, 1753. She was born a catholic, but she rarely included religion in her writings. "She was first an actress and then proceeded to become a successful novelist."(Smallwood, 2001) At the age of eighteen she ran away from home to pursue an acting career. Despite her stutter, her beauty captured the audience. She met a man named Joseph Inchbald, she had no interest in him. She knew that he had connections and so she became acquainted with him, later becoming his wife. She was widowed at the age of 27. She never remarried, but spent most of her time writing and socializing. She had published nineteen stories and plays. Mrs. Inchbald enjoyed the theater and she spent a good amount of time going to watch the shows. She had many acquaintances and was well-liked by many.  She spent the last few years of her life critiquing writings. Elizabeth Inchbald, at the age of 68, died in 1821.


Portrait of Elizabeth Inchbald as Lady Abbess in 'The Comedy of Errors'. 1785

  • A painting of Elizabeth Inchbald by Samuel Drummond 1889

Some Plays and Stories by Elizabeth Inchbald:

A Simple Story, 1791

A Mogul Tale, 1784

I'll Tell You What, 1785

Appearance is Against Them, 1785

All On a Summer's Day, 1787

Such Things Are, 1787

The Midnight Hour, 1787

Animal Magnetism, 1788

The Child of Nature, 1788

The Married Man, 1789

The Hue and Cry, 1791

Next Door Neighbours, 1791

Lovers' Vows, 1798

About This Exhibit


Suzanne J. Joshua


A project about Elizabeth Inchbald and her Writings by Suzanne J. Joshua.

A portrait of Mrs. Inchbald, by Samuel Freeman 1807

What Inspired Her?

"There is much satire in Elizabeth Inchbald's dramas, however it is balanced out with sentiment. Most of her writings bring in long lost family members".(Smallwood, 2001)

According to Smallwood,

"There is a preoccupation here with renewing bonds between parents and children, between husbands and wives, that have been broken by the events of modern life: political upheaval, exile, colonial trade and travel, adultery, seduction. Other plays by Inchbald, however, examine relationships within marriage and families, represent hierarchical structures which suggest analogies between the family and society, and raise issues relating to the use of power." (Smallwood, 2001)

It seems that Elizabeth Inchbald had some unresolved issues that she was bringing out onto paper. Sometimes, writers relate their stories to real life and so since she had left everything behind at the young age of eighteen she must have had unresolved issues with her family. She also used society as an inspiration for her writings. She expressed her opinions through her writings with "satire".(Smallwood, 2001) "Almost as if she was mocking the situation. She had written a play, Such Things Are, in which the wife is in a marriage with a very dominating husband and he had called his wife "his female slave"".(Smallwood, 2001) Elizabeth Inchbald was also very well read and she kept herself updated with what was going on in the world. She was very intelligent and used the world, personal experiences, society, and whatever she could use to inspire her plays.


Bell, John. Mrs Inchbald in the character of Lady Abbess. 1785. The British Museum, London. Web. 01 December 2014.

Drummond, Samuel. Mrs. Inchbald, 1800-1830. The British Museum, London. Web. 30 November 2014.

Freeman, Samuel. Mrs, Inchbald. 1807. The British Museum, London. Web. 03 November 2014.

Jenkins, Annibel .I'll Tell You What: The Life of Elizabeth Inchbald. Lexington: U of Kentucky, 2003 (p. 1-14, 492-521)

Manvell, Roger. Elizabeth Inchbald, England's Principal Woman Dramatist and Independent Woman of Letters in 18th Century London, A Biographical Study. London. 1987

Russel, John. Sewell, John. Mrs. Inchbald, From an original painting. 1788. The British Museum, London. Web. 29 November 2014.

 Smallwood, Angela. 'Introduction to vol. 6 of Eighteenth-Century Women Playwrights: Elizabeth Inchbald.' British Women Playwrights around 1800. 15 August 2001. 32 pars. <> (17., 21.)