Critics who read novels biographically are nothing new:
It has been often said, and in published statements, that the heroine of this book was drawn after a sister of the writer, who was killed by a fall from a horse now near half a century since. So ingenious is conjecture that a personal resemblance has been discovered between the fictious character and the deceased relative! It is scarcely possible to describe two two females of the same class in life, who would be less alike, personally, than Elizabeth Temple and the sister of the author who met with the deplorable fate mentioned. In a word, they were unlike in this respect as in history, character, and fortunes.
—From the author’s introduction to James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers, published in 1823.