Late-eighteenth-century English cultural authorities seemingly concurred that women readers should favor history, seen as edifying, than fiction, which was regarded as frivolous and reductive. Readers of Marry Ann Hanway’s novel Andrew Stewart, or the Northern Wanderer, learning that its heroine delights in David Hume’s and Edward Gibbon’s histories, could conclude that she was more virtuous and intelligent than her sister, who disdains such reading. Likewise, while the naïve, novel-addicted protagonist of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland, finds history a chore, the sophisticated, sensible character Eleanor Tilney enjoys it more than she does the Gothic fiction Catherine prefers. Yet in both cases, the praise of history is more double-edged than it might actually appear. Many readers have detected a protofeminist critique of history in Catherine’s protest that she dislikes reading books filled with men “and hardly any women at all.” Hanway, meanwhile, brings a controversial political edge to her heroine’s reading, listing the era’s two most famous religious skeptics among her preferred authors. While Hume’s history was generally seen as being less objectionable than his philosophy, there were widespread doubts about his moral soundness even as a historian by the time that Hanway was writing, and Gibbon’s perceived tendency to celebrate classical paganism sparked controversy from the first appearance of his history of Rome.