Julia Kavanagh (1824-77)

Commentary


Life
b. 7 Jan. 1824, East Main St. [now Cathedral St.], Thurles, Co. Tipperary; dg. of Peter Morgan Kavanagh [q.v.] and his wife Bridget (née Fitzpatrick - b. Mountrath, d. 20 Dec. 1888; being the dg. of William Fitzpatrick & Catherine Haggerty); bapt. a Catholic at the Big Chapel, Thurles, 9 Jan. 1824; travelled with parents to London and Paris living much in Normandy; started writing in London in 1844 where her mother moved on separating from her father; first appeared in Irish Monthly Magazine (VI, 96 [q.d.]); contrib. ‘The Montyon Prizes’ to Chambers’s Miscellany, 1846;
 
she offered to contribute to The Nation in a letter to Charles Gavan Duffy for no other reward than the interests of her country (‘I am Irish by origin, birth and feeling, though not by education, but if I have lived far from Ireland she has still been as the faith and religion of my youth’); issued The Three Paths (1847), for children; issued some twenty novels including Madeleine: A Tale of the Auvergne (1848), based on the life of a peasant girl illustrating ‘heroic charity and living faith founded on fact’; also issued Natalie: A Tale (1850), published at first by Henry Colburn and reprinted by his successor Hurst & Blackett;
 
and Daisy Burns (1853), a domestic novel; supported her mother with whom she embarked on a journey through France, Switzerland and Italy in 1854, and afterwards issued A Summer and Winter in the Two Sicilies (1858), based on their travels; settled in Paris; subseq. wrote biog. sketches of French and English women of letters (1862-63); moved to Rouen on outbreak of Franco-Prussian War, 1870; afterwards settled in Nice, residing finally at 24 rue Gioffredo, Nice; d. 28 Oct. 1877, after a fall from her bed; bur. at the Cimetière du Chateau, Nice;
 
she was commended in an Athenaeum obit. for works which were ‘quiet and simple in style, but pure and chaste, and characterized by the same high-toned thought and morality that was part of the author’s own nature’; a portrait by Henri Chanet was presented to the National Gallery of Ireland by her mother, who was interrred with her after her death at Nice on 20 Dec. 1888. CAB ODNB DIW OCEL SUTH OCIL

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Works
Fiction [among 20 novels]
  • Madeleine: A Tale of Auvergne Founded on Fact (1848), 352pp., 12°; Do. [new edition] (London: Ward, Lock & Co. [1851], 1857), 256pp.; Do. (NY: D. Appleton & Co. MDCCCLIX [1859]) [also in OCR digital version online]; Do. [Select Library of Fiction, No. 773] (London: Ward, Lock & Co [1884]), 256pp., 17cm. [8°];
  • Nathalie: A Tale, 3 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1850), iv, 299, 306, 311pp., 8°; Do. [another edn.] (London: Hurst & Blackett 1859), 488pp., ill. [1 lf. of pls.; front.], 20cm. [imprint from colophon; printed by Bungay]; Do. 2 vols. [Collection of British Authors ser., Vols. 195-96] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1851 [c.1870) [copyright edn.]
  • Daisy Burns, 3 vols. (1853); Do. [copyright edn.; Collection of British Authors ser., Vols. 263-64] 2 vols. (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1853 [actually 1868]), 15cm.; and Do. [into French] as Tuteur et Pupille: Roman Anglais, traduit avec l’autorisation de l’auteur par Mme H. Loreau [Bibliothèque des Meilleurs Romans Étrangers] (Paris 1860);
  • Grace Lee: A Tale, 3 vols. (London: [Hurst & Blackett 1855); Do. (NY: D. Appleton & Co. […] 1855 ), 394pp.; Do. [Coll. of British Authors ser., Vol. 320-21] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1855 [actually c.1875]), [styled copyright edn.];
  • Rachel Gray: A Tale Founded on Fact (London: 1856 [1855]), 336pp.; Do. [Coll. of British Authors ser., Vol. 344] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1856), vi, 306pp., 15cm. [styled copyright edn.]
  • Adele, 3 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1858), 318, 324, 318pp., 8°.; Do. [another edn], 3rd vols. [British Authors ser., Vols. 420-22] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1858), 344pp., 16cm. [styled copyright]; Do. [another edn.] ([1862]), and Do. (London: Hurst & Blackett [1865]), 431pp. [front. engraved by John Saddler after John Gilbert];
  • Beatrice, 3 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1865); Do. [copyright edn.; British Authors ser., Vols. 740-41], 2 vols. (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1864), 368, 358pp., 16cm.
  • Queen Mab: A Novel, 3 vols. (London: ;Hurst & Blackett 1863), 316pp., 8°; Do. [Collection of British Authors ser., Vols. 673-74], 2 vols. (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1863), [Vol. 2, 342p.; 16cm]; also available online [Google Books];
  • Sybil’s Second Love: A Novel, 3 vols. (1867), 8°; Do. 2 vols. [Collection of British Authors, ser., Vols. 858-59] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1867 [ca.1870]), 15cm. [copyright edn.];
  • Dora, 3 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1868), 323, 332, 337pp., 18cm.;
  • Silvia, 3 vols. ([London: Hurst & Blackett] 1870); Do. [Collection of British Authors ser., Vol. 1099 ] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1870, 1907), 312pp.;
  • Bessie: A Novel, 3 vols. ([London: Hurst & Blackett] 1872), and Do. [copyright edn.] 2 vols. (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1872), 16cm.;
  • John Dorrien: A Novel, 3 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1875), 317, 313, 328pp., 8°/19cm. [Register of Preservation Surrogates; BL shelf no. DPB 12634.n.5]; Do. (London & Manchester: George Routledge & Sons 1893), 448pp., 19cm.
  • Two Lilies: A Novel, 3 vols. (London: [Hurst & Blackett] 1877); Do. [Collection of British Authors ser., 1643-44] 2 vols. in 1 (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1877), ;
For children
  • The Three Paths: A Story for Young People (1847), 229pp., ill. [by Andrew Maclure], 12°;
Short fiction
  • Seven Years and Other Tales, 3 vols. ([London: Hurst & Blackett] 1860 [1859]); Do., 2 vols. in 1 (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1859), 15cm. [Contents - Vol. 1: Seven years; The cheap excursion; The conscript; Gaiety and gloom. Vol. 2: The little dancing-master; A soirée in a porter’s lodge; A comedy in a court-yard; The troubles of a quiet man; Young France; Adrien; The mysterious lodger; An excellent opportunity; The experiences of Sylvie Delmare.]
  • The Pearl Fountain and Other Fairy Tales, by Bridget & Julia Kavanagh (London: Chatto & Windus 1876), 245pp. ill. [30 ills. by J. Moyr Smith; see details] (Toronto: Belford Brother 1877) [available as CIHM microfiche];
  • Forget-Me-Nots, with a preface by C. W. Wood, 3 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1878) [posthum. short stories]; Do. [Collection of British and American Authors ser., Vol. 1754], 2 vols. (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1878), 302, 312pp.
—also accred. with The Montyon Prizes [by J. K.], in Auget de Montyon [A.J.B.B.], Baron [1846], 12º.
 
See also Duffy’s Hibernian Magazine: A Monthly Journal of Literature, Science, and Art, by the most eminent writers, 8 vols. [cumulative biannual] (Dublin: James Duffy 1860-64), [‘including Miss Julia Kavanagh; William Carleton, Esq.; John O’Donovan; […] Rev. C. P. Meehan; […] Martin Haverty, Esq.; William F. Wakeman, Esq.; J. D. Mac Carthy, Esq.; John F. O’Donnell, Esq., &c., &c.’ [indexes in each vol.; 4° & 8°].
 
Notes: Hurst & Blackett are styled ‘successors to Henry Colburn’ in COPAC; Adele [1862 edn.] is held by Cambridge UL and Library of Scotland.
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Miscellaneous
  • Woman in France During the 18th Century, 2 vols. (London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1850), ill. [7 lvs. of pls.; ports.], 21cm.; Do., 2 vols. (NY & London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1893), x, 232, viii ,259pp., ill. [fronts., pls., ports.; t.p. in black & red], 16°; and Do., 4 vols. (NY & London: Putnam 1893), [‘Two volumes extended to four by the addition of two hundred and ninety eight choice extra illustrations’; ltd. edn. of 100 copies, of which No. 50, with special binding in full crushed blue morocco with elaborate gilt decorated spines, wide inner gilt dentelles and silk endpapers, is held in Glasgow UL];
    Women of Christianity Exemplary for Acts of Piety and Charity
    (1852);
  • A Summer and Winter in the Two Sicilies, 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1858), v, 333 p., 316pp., ill. [1 lf. of pls.; front.; title vignettes], 8°; Do. [Collection of British Authors ser., Vol. 459-60] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1858). 16º.
  • French Women of Letters: Biographical Sketches, 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1862 [1861]), x, 326, iv, 319pp., 21cm., and Do. [ Collection of British Authors ser., Vol. 582] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1862), viii, 344pp.
  • English Women of Letters: Biographical Sketches, 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett 1863 [1862]), vi, 331; 353pp.; Do. [British Authors ser., Vol. 622] (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1863) [styled copyright edn.]; Do. [rep.] (Cambridge UP 2010) [see details]
Query: Katharine Sarah MacQuod, ‘Julia Kavanagh [&] Amelia Blandford Edwards’, in Women Novelists: Women Novelists of Queen Victoria’s Reign ([… &c.] 1897) [listed in COPAC].
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Bibliographical details

The Pearl Fountain and Other Fairy Tales, by Bridget & Julia Kavanagh (London: Chatto & Windus [Picadilly] 1876), 245pp. ill. [30 ills. by J. Moyr Smith; wood-engraved and line photo-engraved plates & vignettes; interleaves; num. ills. wood-engraved by W. Measom & Sons; line photo-engraved ill. of lotus on t.p.; cCase binding of dull-mauve rib grain cloth; upper cover panel stamped in gold and black blocked illustration; signed “MS” [Moyr Smith] in lower right-hand corner; title, authors, illustrator and publisher on spine with gold and black-blocked decoration; lower cover has blind border; gilt edges.]

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English Women of Letters: Biographical Sketches, 2 vols. [rep. of 1863 Edn.] (Cambridge UP 2010), 702pp. CONTENTS. Volume 1 - 1. Aphra Behn; 2. Oroonoko; 3. Miss Fielding - David Simple; 4. Madame D’Arblay; 5. Evelina; 6. Cecilia; 7. Mrs. Charlotte Smith; 8. Emmeline. Ethelinda. The Old Manor House; 9. Mrs. Radcliffe; 10. The Sicilian Romance. The Romance of the Forest; 11. The Mysteries of Udolpho. The Italian. Volume 2 - 1. Mrs. Inchbald; 2. A Simple Story; 3. Miss Edgeworth; 4. Castle Rackrent. Belinda; 5. Tales of Fashionable Life; 6. Miss Austen; 7. Miss Austen’s six novels; 8. Mrs. Opie; 9. Father and Daughter. Adeline Mowbray; 10. Lady Morgan; 11. The Wild Irish Girl. O’Donnel.

See publisher’s notice of the above series:
Cambridge Univ. Press - notice of English Women of Letters: Biographical Sketches, 2 vols. [rep. of 1863 Edn.] (Cambridge UP 2010): ‘The Irish novelist Julia Kavanagh (1824–1877) published English Women of Letters in two volumes in 1862 [sic]. The work, which formed a pair with French Women of Letters (1862), traces the contribution of English women writers, from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, to the development and formation of the modern novel. These volumes contain biographical sketches of various female authors followed by evaluations of their most important works. Volume 1 begins with Aphra Behn (1640–1840) and Oroonoko and finishes with Ann Radcliff (1764–1823), and four of her gothic novels. Volume 2 analyses the work of another five writers, from Elizabeth Inchbald (1753–1821) and Jane Austen (1775–1817) to Lady Morgan (c.1776–1859). This important work brought to attention in the Victorian mind the importance of these writers. It has served for many generations of English literature students as a biographical companion to women writers.’ [Available online; accessed 27.06.2010.]

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French Women of Letters, 2 vols. (London: Hurst & Blackett; succ. to H. Colburn 1862), 319pp; 326pp. Contains ‘biographical sketches’ incl. Madamoiselle de Gournay; Madamoiselle de Scudery; Madame de Tencin; Madame Riccoboni [vol. I]; Madame de Genlis; Madame de Charriere; Madame de Krüdener; Madame Cottin, and Madame de Stael (to whom 3 chaps. are devoted).

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Criticism
  • “C. J.” [prob. Catherine Hamilton], ‘Julia Kavanagh, Biographer, Writer, and Novelist’, in Journal of the Waterford Archaeological Society (1907), p. 158;
  • Eileen Fauset, ‘The Politics of Writing: Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877)’, in Irish Journal of Feminist Studies, 1, 2 (Winter 1996), pp.58-68;
  • Eileen Fauset, The Politics of Writing: Julia Kavanagh, 1824-1877 (Manchester UP 2009), 230pp.
 
See also brief notices in James Cahalan The Irish Novel (London: Macmillan 1988), and Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11], esp. p.473-74.

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Commentary
Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘Though Julia Kavanagh (1824-77) is now more likely to be remembered for her biographical studies in such work as English Women of Letters (1863), her novels achieved considerable popularity in their day, evidenced in the many international editions of her work published by Tauchnitz in whose lists she regularly appeared along with Hector, Hoey and Riddell. Kavanagh was born in Thurles, County Tipperary and spent much of her early life in France, which provides the scene for many of her novels, including Madeline (1848) [sic for Madeleine] and Nathalie (1850), an engaging coming-of-age novel praised by Charlotte Brontë and said to have influenced her Villette. In 1857, Kavanagh’s reputation suffered when her father, Peter Morgan Kavanagh, falsely attributed his inferior novel The Hobbies to his daughter. In 1886 Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of children’s stories such as The Secret Garden, began in the New York periodical St Nicholas a series entitled “Stories from the Lost Fairy Book, Retold by the Child Who Read Them”. The “lost” book was immediately revealed to be Irish author Frances Browne’s well-known Granny’s Wonderful Chair and Its Tales of Fairy Times (1856), editions of which, despite Burnett’s claims to have searched unsuccessfully in both England and America, had appeared throughout the 1880s. In the case of Hoey, arguments regarding the ownership of copyright dogged her later career and her authorship of a number of novels more usually credited to the writer Edmund Yates remains a matter of dispute.’ (p.474.)

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References

Sundry notices

Early notices on Julia Kavanagh have appeared in W. D. Adams, Dictionary of English Literature [rev. edn.] (London 1879-80); A. Bone, A Critical Dictionary of English Literature, 3 vols. (1859-71); Dictionary of Contemporary Biography (London 1861); S. J. B. Halle, A Cyclopaedia of Female Biography (London 1861); F. Boase, Modern English Biography, 6 vols. (1892-1921); Cassell’s Biographical Dictionary (London 1867-1869); C. J. Hamilton, Notable Irish Women (1904); M. Flaherty, ‘Julia Kavanagh’, in The Catholic Encyclopedia (NY: Robert Appleton Co. 1910) [online; accessed 2.04.2002].

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Charles Read, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78), Vol. IV [ed. T. P. O’Connor], calls her dg. of Mr. Morgan Kavanagh ‘known as author of some curious works upon sources and science of languages’; long residence in France; returned London at twenty, and adopted literature; Three Paths, for children (1847); Madeleine (1848); A Summer in the Two Sicilies (London: Hurst & Blackett 1858); French Women of Letters (1862); English Women of Letters (1863). Novels incl. Grace Lee, Rachel Gray, Beatrice, Sibyl’s Second Love, Dora, Adele, and Queen Mab. Also Women of Christianity. Many republished in America; ‘true to life, delicate in expression, simple, and at the same time refined in style and thoroughly pure in tone. [ed.]’. An article by Charles Wood in Athenaeum [n.d.] is cited as speaking of ‘high toned thought and morality …’. Her last work was called Forget-Me-Not. The selection is from Nathalie, ‘… The sun had set, but a rosy flush still lingered in the west …’. Rose passes away ‘noiselessly’ from TB, after some religious moralising with her more troubled sister, Nathalie.

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Margaret Drabble, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature (OUP 1986), conveyed French life faithfully in her novels and tales, best-known of which were Madeleine (1848), Adele (1858). French Women of Letters (1862) and English Women of Letters (1863), highly praised. Forget-me-nots (1878), short stories.

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Elaine Showalter, A Literature of their Own (1984), bio-note, only child of M. P. Kavanagh, writer and linguistic; remained single; travelled to Paris; first novel, Madeleine (1848). The chief fault of [her] Daisy Burns, according to the Westminster, was the fatiguing sustained high pitch of emotion it shared with other novels by women (ibid., p. 80).

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John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989), notes an extraordinary quarrel in which Julia was obliged to disown The Hobbies, which Morgan Peter Kavanagh. passed off as hers; the family returned to London from Paris and Normandy, evidently without the father, in 1844. Her earlier fiction, incl. Madeleine (1848), Nathalie (1850), Silvia (1870), Bessie (1872), have foreign heroines and settings; while Adele (1858) and Dora (1868) deal with resourceful, independent women. The Three Paths (1847) is the first of her children’s books; Forget-Me-Nots (1878), is a series of linked tales and her last work. Her last words, addressed to her mother were, ‘Oh Mama! How silly of me to have fallen.’ Collaborated on fairy story collection with her mother, Bridget, in 1876. BL 21.

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Anne Brady, Women in Ireland ( 1988) lists C. J. [prob. Catherine Hamilton], ‘Julia Kavanagh, Biographer, Writer, and Novelist, in Waterford Arch. Soc. Journ. (1907), p. 158 [supra], and conjectures that ‘C.J.’ stands for James Coleman.

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Notes
Nice Municipal Archives [France] give Julia Kavanagh’s name as ‘Kavannagt’ and her birthplace as ‘Thorles (Angleterre)’. See World Bibliographical Index, CD ROM; information supplied by Madame Titsit of Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

The portrait in National Gallery of Ireland is by Henri Chanet, a French academician; it was probably painted in Paris where it was exhibited at the Paris Salon and then at the RA London, 1883 (Crookshank, Portraits).

Madeleine: A Tale of Auvergne founded on facts (1859)

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