The Publication of Charlotte Temple


In the newspapers, I was looking for news about the publication of Charlotte Temple. The book was originally published as Charlotte, A Tale of Truth in England in 1791. It was then later published in America in 1794. The book was written by Susanna Rowson who wrote various poems, religious texts, novels, and plays. Her book, Charlotte Temple was the most popular and most widely read book in America until Harriet Beecher Stowe polished Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. The book is about a young girl who gets seduced by a soldier who then brings them both over the America.


The book is first mentioned in American newspapers in 1794, which is just when it was published in America. The two newspapers that published it first were the General Advertiser in Philadelphia and the Columbian Centinel in Boston. Both these papers call the book “Tale of Truth”


General Advertiser, Philadelphia

and both have a similar article for it. Which is a “review” of the book, but it is really just a short summery of the book. The Philadelphia article about it is a bit longer, as it was the first to be published, and the Boston edition, which published the article a few months late is shorter but is just the Philadelphia article with some

phrases taken out of it. Both of these are advertisements for the book published by publishers. They have the name of the publisher, the address of where to get it, and the price of the book. In the Philadelphia newspaper the advertisement is directed towards women. “A new novel to the Ladies of Philadelphia.” [1] This shows women were now reading, which makes sense because the book is a romance novel. In Starr, he does discuss the rising literary rate in America, and women were starting to read more. So the fact that this is advertised towards women is telling of who was literate in America at this time.



The next time the book is mentioned is in 1798 in the Weekly Museum which was a newspaper out of New York, New York. The article for the book this time is again just another advertisement. This time around though, there is no description and is just the titled listed with other books that are for sale by a book seller. This same article, which first was published on June 23rd, 1798 is then published for multiple issues after, up until July, 28, 1798. This same publishing pattern happens in 1799, once again in Philadelphia. This time it was for a new edition of the novel.


Boston Commercial Gazette

This goes on well into the early 1800s. Mostly just publishers and booksellers publishing the same advertisement for multiple issues. In these advertisements, the sellers are selling newer editions. In an issue of the Boston Commercial Gazette from 1809, a book seller was advertising “a handsome edition, with an elegant frontpiece” [2] The book must have remained popular even ten years later after it was published in America, which we do know is true because it was the most popular book until 1852 with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Selling newer and “handsome” editions of the book must mean that people not only read the book and loved it, but that they were willing to buy new editions of it. Booksellers also saw this because the new editions was almost twice as much as the first edition. America was already a very literate country and reading was becoming a popular hobby among men, women, and children.




[1] (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) General Advertiser. 05-26-1794

[2] (Boston, Massachusetts) Boston Commercial Gazette. 10-12-1809


4 thoughts on “The Publication of Charlotte Temple

  1. You did a great job with this post! I was really interested in reading how newspapers would report on the publication of such a well known book, and I was curious is anybody printed something similar to a book review back then. It’s also interesting how publishers would advertise new editions, and you did a great job using quotes to talk about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I agree. It’s interesting to see what’s similar and different about advertising books today. Today books are usually given an actual review rather than just a summary, which they called a review in the newspapers I found. But also if you look at NYT’s bestsellers they are just ranked with their titles. One thing that I found kinda funny was that they sold “handsome” new editions for almost twice the price as the regular edition when it first came out. Reminds me of the collector’s editions of books today that are wicked expensive. Thanks for the feedback!


  3. Wish I could have been in class for the discussion! Would have like to see more about novels during this period. But I caught the nasty cold going around


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