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Article
Defoe’s The Complete English Tradesman and the Prostitute Narrative: Minding the Shop in Mrs. Elizabeth Wisebourn, Sally Salisbury, and Roxana
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies
  • Sharon Smith, South Dakota State University
Document Type
Article
Publication Version
Version of Record
Publication Date
4-1-2015
Abstract
Written in the aftermath of the South Sea Bubble collapse of 1720, Daniel Defoe’s The Complete English Tradesman (1726) associates economic survival with the concept of mastery, or “minding the shop.” This concept had been explored in prostitute narratives published earlier in the decade, including Anodyne Tanner’s The Life of the Late Celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Wisebourn (1721), Charles Walker’s Authentick Memoirs of the Life, Intrigues, and Adventures of the Celebrated Sally Salisbury (1723), and Defoe’s Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (1724). When one reads The Complete English Tradesman in relation to these narratives, the figure of the female sex worker emerges as a model for Defoe’s middle-class masculine ideal. Much like Defoe’s tradesman, the protagonists of post-Bubble prostitute narratives represent an endangered masculinity that strives for mastery within a precarious economic environment. The “ femaleness” of these protagonists—and consequently Defoe’s tradesman—cannot be disregarded, however. Though the prostitute narratives discussed here are male-authored representations of masculine experience, they are also reflections of one of eighteenth-century England’s most fascinating and powerful female figures, a figure associated, albeit loosely, with actual female sex workers. Defoe’s tradesman clearly serves as a masculine ideal, but one that cannot escape its notorious "feminine" literary past.
Pages
31
Format
application/pdf
Language
en
DOI of Published Version
10.1353/jem2015.0012
Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Rights
Copyright © 2015 UPenn Press. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.
Comments

This work was published in Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies (2015) 15.2. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/jem.2015.0012
Posted with permission.

Citation Information
Sharon Smith. "Defoe’s The Complete English Tradesman and the Prostitute Narrative: Minding the Shop in Mrs. Elizabeth Wisebourn, Sally Salisbury, and Roxana" Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies Vol. 15 Iss. 2 (2015) p. 27 - 57
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sharon-smith/5/