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by Ann Gomersall
Ann Gomersalls The Citizen (1790) is an epistolary novel involving a complex network of characters, all of whom serve as foils to Mr Bertills the citizen of the title. Gomersall came out of the merchant class in Leeds and her novels were popular at the time for defending this somewhat maligned group, as well as serving as adept social critiques of wider society. Little is known about Gomersall (17501835), but she began writing to raise funds for her merchant husband to re-enter business after he lost his money. Publishing under her own name, she was one of a small number of professional women writers of the Romantic period. Her late use of the epistolary form shows an indebtedness to the works of Samuel Richardson and Tobias Smollett, whilst her social criticism looks towards a more nineteenth-century tradition. This is the first modern critical edition of The Citizen.