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La vierge, la sorcière et le magistrat : Henry Fielding et l'affaire Elizabeth Canning, un fait-divers à la lisière de la fiction

Abstract : Elizabeth Canning was a maidservant who claimed to have been held captive in a bawdy house by Mary Squires, a Gipsy woman, for almost a month. The writer and magistrate Henry Fielding became involved in the case but the inconsistencies in Canningʼs story and testimonies in favour of Squires aroused the suspicions of Sir Crisp Gascoyne, trial judge and Lord Mayor of London, resulting in Canningʼs conviction for perjury and transportation to America in 1754. Fielding published A Clear State of the Case of Elizabeth Canning in April 1753 to shed light on the case but his compassion for Canning made him depict her as an innocent girl and Squires as a cruel Gypsy, thereby echoing the stereotypical representations of the two women as virgin and witch in contemporary pamphlets and newspapers. However, A True State also considers, albeit very reluctantly, the possibility that the ideal of femininity embodied by Canning might conceal vice or madness.
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Nathalie Bernard. La vierge, la sorcière et le magistrat : Henry Fielding et l'affaire Elizabeth Canning, un fait-divers à la lisière de la fiction. XVII-XVIII Revue de la Société d'études anglo-américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles , Société d'études anglo-américaines des dix-septième et dix-huitième siècles, Lille, 2019, Crimes et criminels, ⟨10.4000/1718.3344⟩. ⟨hal-02503909⟩

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