Author Biography

Lacy Marschalk is a lecturer in English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She received her PhD from Auburn University, where she wrote a dissertation on the narrative poetics of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British women's travel writing about India. Her work on travel literature has previously appeared in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and the collection British Women Travellers: Empire and Beyond, 1770-1870.


Travel writing is an ever-growing area of interest in eighteenth-century studies, but it can be difficult to teach. Students often find the writing dry and unrelatable, and faculty who have had little experience with travel writing in their own educations may not know which texts would prove useful to their courses. In this article, I discuss the travel narrative with which I've found the most pedagogical success, Eliza Fay's Original Letters from India (1817). Fay's initial journey to India includes a range of captivating adventures, including encounters with Marie Antoinette in Paris, bandits in Egypt, and Hyder Ali in Calicut, where she was imprisoned for fifteen grueling weeks. Original Letters' publication history (including editions by Walter Kelly Firminger in 1908 and E. M. Forster in 1925) is also complex and speaks to larger issues in the editing and promoting of women's writing, so the text makes an interesting case study for those interested in everything from postcolonial studies to book history. In this article, I discuss the editorial treatment of Fay's work and ways in which to situate Original Letters within British travel writing history as well as in-class exercises and a collaborative editing project that have larger implications for travel literature and women’s writing in general.


Eliza Fay, travel writing, pedagogy, India, E. M. Forster