Maria Edgeworth

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Edgeworth, Maria,

1767–1849, Irish novelist; daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth. She lived practically her entire life on her father's estate in Ireland. Letters for Literary Ladies (1795), her first publication, argued for the education of women. She is best known for her novels of Irish life—Castle Rackrent (1800), Belinda (1801), and The Absentee (1812). Although her works are marred somewhat by didacticism, they are notable for their realism, humor, and freshness of style. She also wrote a number of stories for children, including Moral Tales (1801).


See selected letters ed. by C. Colvin (1971); studies by M. Butler (1972) and C. Owens (1987).

Edgeworth, Maria


Born Jan. 1, 1767, in Black Bourton, Great Britain; died May 22, 1849, in Edgeworthstown, Ireland. Irish writer.

In Letters to Literary Ladies (1795) and Practical Education (vols. 1–2,1798), Edgeworth presented a detailed program of education, including that of women, in the spirit of the pedagogical ideas of the Enlightenment. A profound penetration into child psychology can be observed in her didactic stories for children. Edgeworth gained fame for her “Irish novels.” The destruction of the patriarchal way of life and the triumph of bourgeois relationships are the subject matter of the novel of society and everyday life Castle Rackrent (1800; Russian translation, 1972). The novel The Absentee (1812; Russian translation, 1972) is devoted to the urgent problems of early 19th-century Ireland. In laying bare class haughtiness and affectation, Edgeworth proved herself to be an outstanding satirist. Her realistic mastery comes to life most brilliantly in her portraits of heroes from among the people. She was the author of the novels Belinda (1801) and Tales of Fashionable Life (series 1–2,1809–12). Edgeworth’s pedagogical essays and stories for children were popular in Russia.


Selections From the Works of Maria Edgeworth. London, 1919.
Chosen Letters. London, 1931.
Letters From England 1813–1844. Oxford, 1971.


Bel’skii, A. A. Angliiskii roman 1800–1810gg. Perm’, 1968.
McWhorter Harden, O. Maria Edgeworth’s Art of Prose Fiction. The Hague-Paris, 1971.
Hurst, M. Maria Edgeworth and the Public Scene. [London, 1970.]
Butler, M. Maria Edgeworth. Oxford, 1972.