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Diary

Gillian Darley: John Evelyn and his gardens, 8 June 2006

... of 1703. But Evelyn’s ‘naked and ashamed’ estate grew back to enchant a Regency visitor like Maria Edgeworth (‘Woods worthy of Sylvia indeed!’ she trilled), helped along by commercial good sense. In the 1730s, the tree nursery established by Sir John Evelyn Bt (Jack, the diarist’s grandson) supplied trees for some of the most elegant ...

Citizens

Christopher Ricks, 19 November 1981

Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 
by Marilyn Butler.
Oxford, 213 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 19 219144 6
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... is not all. So there is a creak in a word such as ‘ensured’: ‘Her background ensured that Maria Edgeworth began her writing life in 1795 as an enlightened woman and a moderate feminist.’ Or there is the quiet obduracy as to what constitutes seriousness in a writer: ‘As far as the novel proper went, the loss of prestige that turns away serious ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?, 30 April 2009

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... novelists in the language. They tend to quote what Austen herself said of Frances Burney and Maria Edgeworth, that they conveyed in their novels ‘the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties . . . in the best-chosen language’. Claire Harman’s book is subtitled ‘How Jane Austen Conquered the ...

Valorising Valentine Brown

Patricia Craig, 5 September 1985

Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... writings, and especially the Reflections, to the body of Anglo-Irish fiction which began with Maria Edgeworth. (In this essay, he sensibly remarks that, ‘though there are difficulties attaching to the term “Anglo-Irish literature”, it is too late to purge it from our critical vocabulary’ – an attitude one wishes he’d displayed more often ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... lives’. But is the matter remedied by calling Ellis Cornelia Knight ‘Cornelius’? Or Helen Maria Williams ‘Helena’? Or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ‘Montague’? Or Cecilia ‘Cecelia’? Or Anne Ehrenpreis ‘Ehrenpries’? Or Patricia Köster ‘Koster’? Or Margarette Smith ‘Margaret’? Or Antonia Fraser ‘Frazer’? Above all, what credence ...

Carnivals of Progress

John Ziman, 17 February 1983

Sir William Rowan Hamilton 
by Thomas Hankins.
Johns Hopkins, 474 pp., £19.50, July 1981, 0 8018 2203 3
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Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray.
Oxford, 592 pp., £30, August 1981, 0 19 858163 7
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The Parliament of Science: The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 
edited by Roy MacLeod and Peter Collins.
Science Reviews, 308 pp., £12.25, September 1982, 0 905927 66 4
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... at 30. He had four adoring and talented sisters, and innumerable sympathetic friends, including Maria Edgeworth and William Wordsworth. His scientific star never publicly waned: just before his death, in 1865, he was being honoured as one of the world’s greatest scientists. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica he merits a longer column than either of ...

Sublimely Bad

Terry Castle, 23 February 1995

Secresy; or, The Ruin on the Rock 
by Eliza Fenwick, edited by Isobel Grundy.
Broadview, 359 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 1 55111 014 8
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... a conventional, even obsessional topos in 18th-century women’s writing; one sees it in novels by Maria Edgeworth, Ann Radcliffe, Sophia Lee, Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Inchbald and numerous others. It is frequently amalgamated with a sort of Bluebeard motif: in Inchbald’s A Simple Story the heroine is kept prisoner by her father, whom she has ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg, 18 November 2004

The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... as in the magnum opus edition of the Waverley Novels – was coming into vogue, and writers like Maria Edgeworth were having their tales reprinted in monthly volumes. Hogg coveted the distinction of a Collected Prose and he worked hard to get it. When Blackwood first agreed and then hesitated, Hogg looked elsewhere. A London publisher, James ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... Ni Chonaill and Mary Barber in the 18th century to Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Medbh McGuckian, with Maria Edgeworth, excellently introduced by W.J. MacCormack, the only woman to whom a whole section is devoted. This is by no means a lamentable showing, and the editors might argue that given the state of feminist history in Ireland in the late ...

She’s a tiger-cat!

Miranda Seymour: Birds’ claw omelettes with Vernon Lee, 22 January 2004

Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography 
by Vineta Colby.
Virginia, 387 pp., £32.50, May 2003, 0 8139 2158 9
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... Vernon Lee’ pronounced Sterne to be more rewarding than Fielding (largely on moral grounds), Maria Edgeworth to write more enjoyably than Jane Austen, Villette to be superior to Jane Eyre, and a certain Mrs Jenkin to be a finer writer by far, in the realistic mode, than George Eliot. (Mrs Jenkin was a close friend of the Ruffinis.) At 15, Vernon Lee ...

Dephlogisticated

John Barrell: Dr Beddoes, 19 November 2009

The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and His Sons of Genius 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 294 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 0 300 12439 2
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... ascendancy in France, he was widely known to be (in the words of his father-in-law, Richard Edgeworth) a ‘little fat democrat’, utterly hostile to the corrupt, repressive and belligerent government of Pitt, which enjoyed, however, huge support among those with the longest purses. And perhaps, for all his hyperbolic puffing of the therapeutic ...

Look on the Bright Side

Seamus Perry: Anna Letitia Barbauld, 25 February 2010

Anna Letitia Barbauld: Voice of the Enlightenment 
by William McCarthy.
Johns Hopkins, 725 pp., £32, December 2008, 978 0 8018 9016 1
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... life’; but there is frequently something pressing in on them that is private and reserved. As Maria Edgeworth shrewdly noted, Barbauld ‘always does more than she says’. Edgeworth admired her but grew fed up, despite the continuing chattiness of her letters, privately referring with vivid irritation to ...

Simplicity

Marilyn Butler: What Jane Austen Read, 5 March 1998

Jane Austen: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Fourth Estate, 578 pp., £20, September 1997, 1 85702 419 2
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Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 341 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 670 86528 1
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... work. The main plot, involving an unscrupulous woman visitor to an English country house, imitates Maria Edgeworth’s epistolary novel Leonora (1806). In Edgeworth the Lady Susan character is Lady Olivia, a sophisticated Englishwoman long domiciled in France, who has separated from her husband, acquired a lover and ...

Divided We Grow

John Barrell: When Pitt Panicked, 5 June 2003

The London Corresponding Society 1792-99 
edited by Michael T. Davis.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, June 2002, 1 85196 734 6
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Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty 
by Helen Braithwaite.
Palgrave, 243 pp., £45, December 2002, 0 333 98394 7
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... William Blake (as an illustrator), S.T. Coleridge, William Cowper, Erasmus Darwin, Humphry Davy, Maria Edgeworth, Olaudah Equiano, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Fuseli, William Godwin, Mary Hays, William Hazlitt, Thomas Malthus, Thomas Paine, Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, Charlotte Smith, John Horne Tooke, Sarah Trimmer, Mary Wollstonecraft and William ...

Ich dien

Michael Neill: Shakespeare and the Servants, 22 October 2009

Shakespeare, Love and Service 
by David Schalkwyk.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £50, June 2008, 978 0 521 88639 0
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... Othello, in a beautifully nuanced impersonation of an old retainer’s fractured sensibility, Maria Edgeworth showed that a servant was always likely to be in two minds about his masters. In Castle Rackrent, Thady Quirk’s narrative is coloured by a tone of such genuine affection that it is difficult to dismiss his repeated protestations of love and ...

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