Nothing is known about the life of Foster (E.M.F
) but mainly via chains of allusions to other texts (By the author of . . .
), making definitive attribution difficult. Novels in these sometimes contradictory chains of attribution were published in the years 1795-1817. There are eight or ten novels generally accepted to be by Foster as well as six others of more dubious attribution.
published exclusively in the novel genre, beginning with historical novels with gothic and melodramatic elements, and moving to sentimental courtship fiction. The novels' settings include a variety of British locations as well as European and colonial locales and often use the motif of long-lost relatives. They cite or reference a wide range of literary works, mostly by men. Overall they promote mainstream Christian morals, often using an ironic or satirical approach to genre, manners, and morals and frequently featuring a narrator who identifies as a woman (sometimes as an Old Maid
with a kind of proto-feminist perspective.
), whose works were published with very limited information about the author. Authorship was indicated sometimes by initials (