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Edgeworth, Maria

novel education writing estate

(Irish, 1768–1849)

The eldest daughter of a Co. Longford landlord and estate owner, Maria Edgeworth was largely educated by her father. His eccentricities, political radicalism, and interests in science and education were major influences on her writing, and he often ‘edited’ her work and acted as her literary manager throughout her life. Her best-known work is Castle Rackrent (1800), a novel with claims to being the earliest ‘regional’ and the first historical novel in English. A satirical portrait of a run-down estate, the novel draws heavily on Edgeworth's own Anglo-Irish background, and is notable for its wry comic tone and the freshness of its writing. Edgeworth's works are uneven in quality, though Belinda (1801) was very successful in its day. She also wrote a treatise arguing for the education of women, and stories for children.

Jane Austen, Walter Scott.


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