Selina Bunbury (1802-82)


Life
b. Kisaran House, Co. Louth, 1802; descended from Lords Ferrars one of fifteen children of Rev. Henry Bunbury, a Methodist; connected by family to Fanny Burney upon on whom she modelled herself; wrote travel books such as A Visit to My Birthplace (Dublin 1820) that portray rural Ireland before famine; also Cabin Conversations and Castle Scenes (Dublin 1827) which promotes scripture-reading;
 

wrote The Abbey of Innismoyle (1828), based on an imagined Jesuit conspiracy in the west of Ireland; wrote Early Recollections (1829) and Tales of My Country (1833), prefaced from Birkenhead; also Coombe Abbey (1843), a historical novel in the time of James I, and her best known work; later works reflecting her travels incl. The Pyrenees (1845), A Visit to the Catacombs (1849), Summer in Northern Europe (1856) and Russia After the War (1857); her last work, Sir Guy D’Esterre (1858) is set amid Sydney and Essex’s expeditions to Ireland; d. Cheltenham. IF DIW RAF MKA SUTH ATT OCIL

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Works
  • Early Recollections: A Tale Dedicated to Christian Parents (Edinburgh: William Oliphant [sold by] Glasgow: Chalmers & Collins; Birmingham: J. Finlay, Newcastle; Beilby & Knotts; London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co., J. Nisbet, J. Duncan, F. Westley, and B.J. Holdsworth; Dublin: R.M. Tims, and W. Curry, Jun. & Co. 1825), 304pp., 12º.
  • The Abbey of Innismoyle (1828), and Do. [2nd edn.] (Dublin: Curry 1829), 336pp.
  • Coombe Alley (Dublin: Curry 1843) [see details].
  • A Visit to My Birthplace (Dublin: Curry 1826, [3rd Edn.] 1829), 216pp., 1 pl.
  • Cabin Conversations and Castle Scenes (Nisbet 1827), 173pp.
  • My Foster Brother (1827), and Do., [2nd edn.] (Dublin: Tims 1833), 134pp.
  • Tales of my Country (Dublin: Curry 1833) [see details];
  • A visit to the catacombs, or First Christian cemeteries at Rome: and a midnight visit to Mount Vesuvius (London 1949);
  • Sir Guy D’Esterre, 2 vols. London: Routledge 1858)
[…] and num. other titles, many religious tracts and stories- e.g., The Triumph of Truth; or, Henry and His Sister (London: R.T.S. [1847]) vii, 188pp., 12º; The Brother’s Sacrifice: A French Story … A New Edition (London: J. Masters [1851]), pp.32, ill., 16º [11cm], and Why Are You Afraid of the Police? (London: APCK 188?), 24pp., ill.

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Bibliographical details
The Abbey of Innismoyle: A Story of Another Century; By the author of "Early recollections" … &c.
(Dublin: William Curry Jun. and Co., 9, Upper Sackville- Street, 1828), [4], 333, [1]pp., 1 pl. [13.9cm.]; Do. [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Curry 1829), 336, [2]pp.; another edn. (Dublin: Curry 1939), 323pp., 1 pl. front. engraved by Kirkwood & Son; 14.7cm; printed by John S. Folds.

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Coombe Abbey: An Historical Tale of the Reign of James the First / by Selina Bunbury …; with numerous illustrations engraved on wood … (Dublin: William Curry, Junr. and Company; William S. Orr and Company, London; Fraser and Co., Edinburgh, 1843), [2], xv [i.e.xvi], 591 [1]pp., 1 pl.; [21.3 cm.; printed in Dublin by J. S. Folds, Son, and Patton, […].

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Tales of my Country, by the author of “Early Recollections,” “A Visit to my Birthplace,” “The Abbey of Innismoyle,” &c. &c. (Dublin: William Curry, jun. and Company; Simpkin and Marshall, London; sold also by Seeley and Sons, J. Nisbet, and J. Hatchard and Son, London, 1833), vii, 301pp.. 16° [copies in 3 libraries inc. BL and TCD Lib.] List of contents, p.[i], followed by prefatory address, pp.[iii]–vii, dated ‘Birkenhead, 1832’. Contains: ‘Introduction’, pp.[1]–8; “Visit at Clairville, including the Story of Rose Muldoon”, pp.[9]–74; “[An Arrival at Moneyhaigue, and the Doctor’s Story of] Eveleen O’Connor”, pp.[75]–106; “A Tale of Monan-a-Glena”, pp.[107]–188; ‘Six Weeks at the Rectory, including an Account of a Parish History”, pp.[189]–301.

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References
Stephen Brown
, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), b. Kisaran House, Co. Louth in 1802, descended from Lords Ferrars, and one of fifteen children of Rev. Henry Bunbury; early books written in spirit of ‘extreme bigotry’ absent from later writings (Brown); first work, A Visit to My Birthplace (1821) passed through 12 editions in her lifetime; prolific up to 1879; visited every country of Europe except Greece and Portugal; most successful work was Coombe Alley (Dublin: Curry 1844) [recte 1843], about days of James I; Cabin Conversations and Castle Scenes (Nisbet 1827), 173pp. [evils of Popery and proselytising efforts in w. of Ireland]; My Foster Brother (1827); Do., [2nd edn.] (London: Tims 1833), 134pp. [Alick, Mr Redmond’s boy, converts his foster-brother]; The Abbey of Innismoyle (1828; 2nd edn. Dublin: Curry 1829), 336pp. [set on n.w. coast; deals with history of Abbey from twelfth century with plot aspersing ‘monstrous creed of Jesuitism’]; Tales of my Country (Dublin: Curry 1833) [‘A Visit to Clairville and the Story of Rose Mulroon’, on 1798]; ‘An Arrival at Moneyhaigue, and the Doctor’s Story of Eveleen O’Connor’; ‘A Tale of Monan-a-gleena; ‘Six Weeks at the Rectory’, in which the Irish cherish diabolical thirst for revenge] , Sir Guy D’Esterre, 2 vols. London: Routledge 1858) [English soldier in train of Sidney; captured in Ireland - “the cursedest of all lands’ - and falls in love; vicissitudes include period in tower, followed by expedition to Ireland with Essex, who meets Hugh O’Neill].

ODNB: There is no article on Bunbury in the Dictionary of National Biography.

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978) McKenna (Irish Lit., 1974) summarises, ‘freshness and humour distinguish the best of her work, including her early novels on Irish themes.’ See also Irish Book Lover, Vols. 1 & 3; and ibid., Vol. 7 (1916) pp.105-07.

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. 1, notes that the Rebellion of 1798 is the subject of “Rose Mahoon” in Selina Bunbury, Tales of My Country. [q.p.]

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John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989), Coombe Abbey is a Guy Fawkes narrative overshadowed by Ainsworth’s best-selling romance; Evelyn (1849), a novel-cum-travel book; also evangelical fiction for RTS and SPCK.

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British Library holds Selina Bunbury, trans. & intro., J. I. Mullois [q.v.], Le Dimanche au peuple [n.pub.; n.d.]; Abbey of Innismoyle, by auth. of Early Recollections [S. Bunbury] 2nd edn. (1829), 336pp.; Annot and Her Pupil, by auth. of Early Recollections [S. Bunbury] (2nd edn. 1830), 179pp.; The Blind Clergyman and his Little Guide (London: Wertheim & Macinstosh 1850), 34pp.; Cabin Conversations and Castle Scenes, an Irish Story, by auth. of Early Recollections [S. Bunbury] (1827), 173pp.; The Castle and the Hovel, or the Two Sceptics (Wertheim & J[oseph] Masters 1864), 42pp.; Coombe Abbey, an historical tale of the reign of James I (Dublin: Wm. Curry Jr. & Co. 1843), xv, 591pp.; Early Recollections, A Tale (2nd edn. 1832); another ed. [called 2nd] (n. pub. 1856); Edward the Infant-School Boy [Pleasant Stories for the Young, No.4] (London: J. F. Shaw 1860), 12pp.; Eleanor, by auth. of A Visit to My Birthplace (q.d.), 113pp.; Evelyn, or a Journey from Stockholm to Rome 1847-48, 2 vols. (London: Bentley 1849); Evenings in the Pyrenees, comprising the stories of wanderers from many lands, ed. and arranged [i.e. by] Selina Bunbury (London: Joseph Masters 1845), xxiii, 307pp., ill. plates; Florence Manvers, 3 vols. (London: T. C. Newby 1865); Glory, Glory, Glory, a story for little children (London: Houlston & Stoneman [1855]), 47pp.; The Indian Babes in the Wood, taken from fact (London: B. Wertheim [1845]), 31pp.; Lady Flora, or the events of the winter in Sweden, and a Summer in Rome in the years 1846-1847, 2 vols. (London: T. C. Newby 1870); Life in Sweden, with excursions in Norway and Denmark, 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1853); Little Mary or the Captain’s Gold Ring (London: Joseph Masters 1857); The Lost One Found (London: Joseph Masters 1856), 31pp.; Madame Constance, The Autobiography of a French Woman in England, ed., [i.e., by] S. Bunbury, 2 vols. ([n pub.] 1861); My First Travels, including Rides in the Pyrenees, scenes during an inundation at Auvignon, sketches in France and Savoy, visits to convents and houses of charity, 2 vols. (London: T. C. Newby 1859); My Foster Brother, by the auth. of Abbey of Innismoyle (2nd edn. 1833); Our Own Story, or the History of Magdalene and Basil St Pierre, 3 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1856); Retrospections, a soldier’s story, by the auth. of A Visit [… &c.] (1829), 294pp.; Rides in the Pyrenees, 2 vols. (London: T. C. Newby 1844); Russia after the War, The Narrative of a Visit to that Country, 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1857); Samson the Fisherman and His Son ([London:] Joseph Masters 1862), 24pp.; Silent John, a Picture of the Good Shepherd, expounded ([London:] J. Masters 1856), 15pp.; another ed. (SPCK [1895]); Sir Guy d’Esterre, 2 vols. (London: Routledge & Co. 1858); The Smuggler’s Cave (London: RTS [1897]), 32pp.; The Star of the Court, or the Maid of Honour and Queen of England, Anne Boleyn (London: Grand & Griffith 1844), vi, 161pp.; Stories for Schools [series 1851-53, 1. Why Are You Afraid of The Policeman (1851), 18pp.; 2. The Happy Land (1852), 17pp.; 3. The First Offence and the Forged Letter (1851), 23pp.; 4. Honesty and Industry or the Violet Letter (1853), 35pp.; Stories for Church History from the Introduction of Christianity to the Sixteenth Century, by auth. of Early Recollections (1828), xii, 348pp.; A Summer in Northern Europe, incl. ‘Sketches of Norway’, ‘Finland’, and ‘Aland Islands’, ‘Gothland’, &c., 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1856); Tales, A Recovered Estate, The Blind Curate’s Child; Christmas Eve in the Forests of Sweden (London: Rivington; Oxford: W. B. Bowden [1862]), 62pp.; Tales of My Country, by auth. of Early Recollections (1833), 301pp.; Triumph of Truth, or Harry and His Sister (RTS 1847), vii, 188pp.; A Visit to the Catacombs, or First Christian Cemeteries at Rome; and A Midnight Visit to Mt. Vesuvius (London: WW Robinson 1849), 35pp.

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Belfast Central Public Library holds The Abbey of In[nis]moyle (1828); Coombe Abbey (?1828); Lady Flora (vol. 1. 1870; Retrospections (1839); Rides in the Pyrennees (1844); Visit to My Birthplaces (1861)

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Notes
William Curry
, publisher, is the subject of remarks in the preface to Combe Abbey, where Bunbury claims that her first work, My Birthplace, was the also the earliest copyright book published in Ireland after the Act of Union. Comparing the publishing climate then and later, she writes: ‘I wish that progression of all things else in Ireland - moral, domestic or commercial - bore some affinity to that which the printing press has made.’ William Curry was the publisher in both cases; Coombe is illustrated and well bound.

Oscar Wilde devised an non-existent character called ‘Bunbury’ - whence ‘to Bunbury’ (v.), i.e., to visit a supposed relative in the country in order to escape an undesired appointment in the city.

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