About Maria Edgeworth
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Author, Maria Edgeworth - Joseph Slater; Private Collection/ <a href='' target='_blank'>Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York</a>
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Maria Edgeworth

About Maria Edgeworth

An Interview with Maria Edgeworth

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Maria Edgeworth was born in 1768, the eldest daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, an inventive Anglo-Irish landowner, and his first wife, Anna Maria Elers. After the death of his first wife, Richard Edgeworth married three more times, producing a family of twenty-two children. Maria was educated in England until the age of fourteen, and after she came back to live in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, her life became considerably influenced by the educational and scientific interests of her father, who encouraged her writing and whom she assisted in his writing and in managing the estate.

A writer of considerable reputation, both literary and moral, her work was admired by many of the significant literary figures of her day, most notably by Sir Walter Scott, who cited her work as a major influence on his books. A pioneer of both the regional and historical novel (though she liked to refer to her books as 'tales', considering 'novels' morally suspect) she was commercially very successful. Her first novel, Castle Rackrent (1800) was also her first Irish tale. The next such tale was Ennui (1809), after which came The Absentee, which began life as an unstaged play and was then published (in prose) in Tales of Fashionable Life (1812), as were several of her other stories. They were followed in 1817 by the last of her Irish tales, Ormond.

Edgeworth wrote widely, her other work including a defence of women's education in Letters for Literary Ladies (1795), Practical Education (1798) which she wrote with her father, stories for and about children, and novels of manners such as Belinda (1801), Leonora (1806), Patronage (1814) and Helen (1834).

Maria Edgeworth never married and had survived many of her siblings by the time she died in 1849.

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Author Image: Maria Edgeworth - Joseph Slater; Private Collection/ Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York