History's Women: Miscellaneous Articles: Maria Edgeworth, English NovelistMaria Edgeworth
English Novelist
1768 – 1849 A.D

This English writer was the daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, an inventor and author. She was born in Berkshire, January 1, 1767, and died in Edgeworthtown, Ireland, June 13, 1849. She was fifteen years of age when her father succeeded to the family estate in Ireland, where under his direction she pursued her studies, formed habits of sharp observation, and developed that cheerfulness which made her literary pursuits she seems never to have wished to be married; and as it had been the delight of her father to assist in developing her talent, she in return loved to remain by the family hearth, gratifying his earnest but lest gifted mind by her literary successes, and repaying in his old age those attentions which she received in youth.

The series of her novels began with Castle Rackrent, and continued without interruption until 1817, during which period there appeared from her pen, Belinda, Popular Tales, Leonora, Tales of Fashionable Life, Patronage, Harrington, and Ormond. The aim of Miss Edgeworth, like Joanna Baille in her dramas, was to make each novel an elucidation of one particular passion or vice.

On the death of her father in 1817 her career of authorship was for a time interrupted. She did not resume her works of fiction till she had expressed her affection for him by completing the memoirs which he had begun of his own life. Not until 1834 was her exquisite story of Helen published; and her literary career ended with the child’s story of Orlandino, which appeared in 1847. With the exception of a trip to the continent and a short residence at Clifton, she passed the latter years of her life at Edgeworthtown, unspoiled by literary fame, love in the family circle which daily assembled in the library, and admired by all as a pattern of an intellectual and amiable woman.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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