Clara Reeve (1729–1807) was one of the eight children of Reverend Willian Reeve; her mother was the daughter of a Smithies, a goldsmith (= artigiano lavoratore di oro) and jeweller (= gioielliere)to King George I. After their father’s death, the family moved to Cochester and it was here that Miss Clara Reeve first became an authoress, by translating from Latin Barclay‘s old romance, Argenis (1762) under the title of The Phoenix. Then, five years afterwards, that she produced her first and most distinguished work The Champion of Virtue, now known with the later title of The Old English Baron (1777), a chivalric tale with gothic elements.
Clare Reeves’ other works include The Two Mentors, a Modern Story; The Progress of Romance, through Times, Countries, and Manners; The Exile; or, Memoirs of Count de Cronstadt, the principal incidents of which are borrowed (= prese a prestito) from a novel by M. D’Arnaud; The School for Widows, a Novel; Plans of Education, with Remarks on the System of other Writers, in a duodecimo volume; and The Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon, a natural Son of Edward the Black Prince; with Anecdotes of many other eminent Persons of the fourteenth Century.
In The Progress of Romance (1785), seen as a precursor to modern histories of the novel and specifically, the writer examines the tradition of female literary history started by Elizabeth Rowe (1674–1737) and Susannah Dobson (d. 1795). One of the stories in this work, The History of Charoba, Queen of
, inspired Walter Savage Landor’s Gebir. Egypt
All these novels are all marked by excellent good sense, pure morality, and a competent command of those qualities which constitute a good romance. They were favourably received at the time, but none of them took became so popular as The Old English Baron, upon which the her fame rests.
Miss Reeve led a retired life, admitting no materials for biography (= non lasciando materiale per la sua biografia) , until 3d December 1803, when she died at
Ipswich, her native city, at the advanced age of seventy-eight years.