Mary Russell Mitford
1786 – 1855 A.D.
Anyone who wishes to obtain a picture of English rural life should read the works of Miss Mitford. It is said that she obtained her idea of this kind of writing from Irving’s Sketch Book, but she showed herself a pupil to do her honor to her teacher.
She was born in Alresford, Hampshire, England. Her father was a physician and at one time possessed considerable wealth. On one occasion he won $100,000 in a lottery, which, as usual, proved a great misfortune, for he soon squandered that and all else that he possessed.
When twenty years of age Miss Mitford published three volumes of poems, somewhat in the style of Sir Walter Scott. These met with a fair degree of success, but she was not satisfied with them, and for several years gave herself again to reading.
The financial reverses of her father made it necessary for her to do something to win bread and she again took up the pen to support both herself and him again. As we read her charming productions, we are not sorry that she was obliged to resume writing.
Her sketches, Our Village, were not appreciated at first and many publishers of magazines refused them. They at length found a place in one of the minor periodicals and after a time the public began to relish the freshness and exquisite finish of her sketches and they were put forth in book form. She loved nature and helped others to do the same. Her readers had looked at things before, now they saw them.
Miss Mitford wrote sever other works, Country stories, Edinburgh Tales, and several dramas, among them Rienzi. Also Recollections o Literary Life in three volumes. But Our Village always held the first place, and the obscure hamlet became a place of resort. People came to search out the nooks and corners and haunts and copses so charmingly described. One write asks, “Who ever threw aside a sketch of hers half read?” Another, “We cannot conceive of her rural delineation over becoming obsolete or uninteresting.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.