Lady Olivia Clarke

WorksReferences

Life
1785?-1845; née Owenson, dg. of Robert, and sister of Lady Morgan; contrib. to Metropolitan Magazine, et al.; her play The Irishwoman (1819), commonly said to be of little merit, was performed at the Theatre Royal, Dublin. PI RAF FDA

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Works
The Irishwoman, 5 act com. (London 1819), 80p.

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Commentary
Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, Vol. 1 (Gerrards Cross 1980) writes: The Irishwoman, a particularly lamentable play by Lady Clarke (Olivia Owenson), contains a stage-Irishman called Macwhack. [31].

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W. J. McCormack, ‘Irish Gothic Fiction’ [ed. essay], in Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, remarks that Lady Clarke was less committed to her career as a writer than her renowned sister. ‘Yet her play, The Irishwoman, A comedy in Five Acts (London: Colburn 1819) returns to the question of metropolitan values and provincial origins so pervasive in Irish writing in the first quarter of the 19th century; In London Sir Toby is plotting to marry off his niece to the elderly Lord Ancestor, assisted by the forgery of an Irish family tree - ‘a pretty piece of work I have had to trump up a pedigree at the mother’s side, to compensate a little for the defalcation on the father’s’. Added to this falsification of class, there is the subplot concerning Chatterton, a quack doctor specialising in ‘craniology’. McCormack comments: ‘[he] is in fact Irish ... suppressing his Irish origins ... it takes an Irishwoman’s arrival to sort out reality from illusion ... Clarke’s essentially feminist play mockingly enacts ... that pretension to aristocracy one find in gothic novels.’ (FDA2, p.837.)

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Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1839’ [Chap. 10]: ‘Questions of representation pervade literary culture at every level. Lady Olivia (née Owenson, ?1785-1845) play, The Irishwoman, performed in Dublin in 1819, compares dramatic prologues to “those civil speeches / In which a candidate for votes beseeches”. The conceit of the play’s own prologue, written by Clarke’s brother-in-law, Sir Charles Morgan (c.1780-1843, husband of Sydney), is to introduce the performance as a candidate seeking the votes of the audience. The play’s themes are presented via a series of linked references to demands fr Catholic suffrage: “on stage or hustings, when they take their station, /Both Speakers seek to gain — representation.” The prologue to Clarke’s play, further associates calls for political change with the distinct claims, fears and feelings of women: the 1820s also saw the start of public lobbying for the rights of women, with the publication of Cork-born Anna Doyle Wheeler and Thompson’s Appeal of One Half of Human Race, Women Against the of the Other Half, Men (1825) [...J (p.410.)

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), lists The Irishwoman (London 1819), comedy; Parodies on Popular Songs, ded. to Countess of Charleville [q.v. PI], music by Stevenson (1827, 1851); sister of Lady Morgan and daughter of Robt. Owenson.

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Notes
Kith & kin: Note that Marmion Savage (q.v.) m. one Olivia Clarke, neice of Lady Morgan.

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