The German Princess; or, Mary Carleton in Fact and Fiction
Several years ago Professor Ernest Bernbaum demonstrated that the numerous journalistic accounts of the activities of Mary Carleton, the self-styled 'German Princess' who was hanged at Tyburn in 1673, are of considerable importance in the development of the kind of realistic fiction later written by Defoe.1 Bernbaum listed twenty works and editions of works relating to Mary, though of these he had seen only twelve. Certain that the remaining eight had once existed, he bracketed their titles. Six of the pieces he was unable to locate have since turned up in various libraries, including three at Harvard, of which two are not known elsewhere. In addition, five pamphlets totally unknown to Bernbaum have come to light, of which four are at Harvard, two of them in apparently unique copies.2 This new material in no way invalidates Bernbaum's thesis; it does, however, help to solve some of the bibliographical and chronological problems that beset his study and to correct some of his unavoidable errors. I shall discuss the works about Mary in the order of their publication, insofar as that order can be established. But first a word about the lady herself. Mary's origins, like those of most criminals, are somewhat dim. The publications about her are either so patently fictitious or so frankly vituperative that getting at the facts of her early life is difficult. John Carleton, her best-known victim and bitterest enemy, made extensive researches into her past; and, while his style is hardly that of the impartial biographer, he did document some of his statements with letters and excerpts from court records. He discovered that she was born at Canterbury, probably about 1635, the daughter of Thomas Moders, but was brought up in the household of Richard Ford, a Canterbury musician. Her first brush with the law occurred in 1660 when she was tried at Dover for having married Thomas Day, a surgeon of that city, while her first husband, a Canterbury shoemaker named Thomas Sted-
1The Mary Qarleton Narratives (Cambridge, Mass., 1914).
2 The subjoined Appendix lists all the known seventeenth-century works about Mary Carleton, distinguishes between those which Bernbaum had seen and those which he had not, and gives the present location of copies.