Ave Maria

Maria Edgeworth

On this day in 1849 the wondrous Maria Edgeworth died at the age of 81. She is rightly best remembered for her 1800 novel Castle Rackrent, a remarkable work that had no precedent but many successors, both in Ireland and elsewhere. While nothing else in her output matched its originality, at the same time Edgeworth’s other Irish novels in particular The Absentee (1812) are worth reading for insights into the state of the country in the aftermath of the Act of Union. Her family home, and the place where she produced many of her books, was Edgeworthstown House, County Longford. From around 1770 onwards it was much enlarged and altered by her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth, the result notable for the distinctive interiors which he designed in an idiosyncratic fashion. The house still stands and has long been a nursing home run by a religious order: the last time I visited the nuns in charge seemed to have little knowledge of or interest in its most famous resident. Sadly the building today bears little resemblance to its appearance during Maria Edgeworth’s lifetime having been ruthlessly stripped of decoration and character. Below is an engraving showing the house’s library as it looked a few years after her death.

Library in Edgeworthstown House

6 comments on “Ave Maria

  1. Patrick says:

    http://www.phantomwooer.org/places.html am afraid the Sisters showed little Mercy here

  2. What a wag you are! Sorry to miss you in Paris this week, but catch up soon, I hope…

  3. John McGerr says:

    I have some old interior photos of Edgeworthstown House – you can find them here

    You can reproduce them on your blog if you wish – just appreciate the credit!

  4. David Foster says:

    Fascinated to see an image of the library as I’m fortunate to have Maria’s own set of Scott’s novels. What a beautiful room it was.

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