Sophia Lee’s The Recess played a key role in the development of the British novel. Written in the period between the rise of sentimental novels like Richardson’s Clarissa and Pamela in the 1740s and the explosion of popular historical-Gothic romances in the 1790s, Lee’s novel combines and experiments with the emerging structures and conventions of the sentimental novel. However, some contemporary scholars inaccurately argue that Lee intended to write an historical or historical Gothic novel. Furthermore, these same scholars do not fully take into account Lee’s use of certain Shakespearean elements within The Recess. Exploring Lee’s experiments with genre allows me not only to show the wide range of novelistic and dramatic models she drew upon in her novel, but to demonstrate that The Recess deservedly holds its place as an important text in the development of the British novel and its female protagonists.