Lecture: Maria Edgeworth’s Private and Public Lives

Dr Susan Manly; Saturday 8 December, 11.30am

All welcome and no booking required

2018 marks 250 years since the birth of Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849): one of the first writers to publish novels centring on Irish lives and social realities. Edgeworth’s letters – around 1500 of which are archived in the NLI – give a vivid sense of her personal ambitions and motivations for her work. They also yield fascinating insights into the debates and conflicts that animated Irish public life from the 1780s up to the 1830s and the rise of Daniel O’Connell, showing the impact of these public events on Edgeworth’s private life and on the lives of the friends and political allies with whom she corresponded.

How political could a woman’s life be in the period in which Edgeworth was writing? In 1803, Edgeworth refused to discuss politics, ‘like a true woman’, when invited to express her opinion. By 1834, Edgeworth has one of her female protagonists in her novel Helen mock this stance as unworthy of any ‘rational being’, especially as politics matters so much ‘to all human creatures who live together in society’. What influence did Edgeworth feel she could exert through her private letters and published works?

This talk, delivered by Dr Susan Manly, author of a forthcoming political biography of Maria Edgeworth,  looks at Edgeworth’s correspondences and relationships with prominent political reformers to address these questions.

NLI Reference: CLON55
NLI Reference: CLON55
Quick Links