chapter  1
Hamilton’s Letters of a Hindoo Rajah and the Making of a Professional Woman Writer
WithSusan B. Egenolf
Pages 26

In her Memoirs of the Late Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton, Elizabeth Benger attempts to portray Hamilton as a woman intellectual and to highlight her immense powers of understanding while positioning her among the most virtuous of female authors. This chapter focuses upon an altogether different Hamilton and shows how the editorial glosses or paratexts of her first novel illuminate not only the complicated relationship between England and India at the end of the eighteenth century, but also the creative generic negotiations of a woman writer taking on a political topic. Though it seems fairly obvious to twenty-first century critics that Hamilton wished to engage the project of the male Orientalists, Benger describes Hamilton's motives for writing Letters of a Hindoo Rajah as emerging from more sentimental causes. Hamilton's writing of Letters of a Hindoo Rajah thus emerged from her deliberate cultivation of both her craft and her reputation as a professional.