Sidney Owenson [Lady Morgan] (?1776-1859)


Life
[née Sydney Owenson; later Lady Morgan; var. b.1783]; dg. of Robert Owenson, actor-manager and Jane [née Hill], and Englishwoman and a Wesleyan; b. at sea, by her own account, and prob. on Christmas Day (“What has a woman to do with dates?”: Memoirs); family settled at Drumcondra; accompanied widowed father on theatrical tours of Ireland including theatrical venture in Kilkenny; began singing, dancing and harp-playing; ed. Huguenot school run by Madame Therston, with dgs. of Henry Grattan, at Clontarf, Co. Dublin, 1791-94; moved to Mrs Anderson’s finishing school on Earl St., Dublin; joined her father at Kilkenny, 1794;suffered the death of her mother, 1789;
 
worked as governess with Featherstones, Bracklin Castle, Co. Meath; assisted in clearing the Steele home in Dominick St., and encountered papers of Swift and Pope among the papers; subscribed to Anthologica Hibernica; meets Myles of Cloonavin during visit to her father’s relatives in Sligo; issued Poems Dedicated by Permission to the Countess of Moira (1801), containing 40 pieces; ended employment with Featherstones, and joined her father in Coleraine; took work as governess with Crawfords of Tipperary (aetat. 25);
 
early novels, St Clair, or the Heiress of Desmond (1802), after Göethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, published in Dublin to no profit; introduced to literary society and befriend by Mary Tighe, Alicia Le Fanu, and others incl. Thomas Moore; issued The Novice of Dominick (1806), a novel set in France, which she completed in Enniskillen with the assistance of Francis Crossley, an admirer, as amanuensis; travelled to Derry with her father’s troupe; sent her manuscript to Phillips in London, who introduced her to William Godwin and supplied an advance (while reducing six vols. to four);
 
furnished her father with money and purchase her cape and harp with the proceeds; wrote The Wild Irish Girl (1806), a parti-epistolary account of the love of Glorvina [Gl. glór b[h]inn, ‘sweet voice’] and Horatio Mortimer, a young Englishman and an earl’s son visiting his father’s estate and the son of the English soldier who has destroyed the fortunes of the Prince of Inishmore, her father (based on the MacDermott of Coolavin); much of the instruction about Irish affairs conveyed through ‘The oral legend of the Prince and the historic lore of the priest’ (Letter XXI) - the latter being Fr. John; written while living at Longford House, nr. Beltra, Co. Sligo, the home of her Crofton relations;
 
artfully played off the publisher Johnson against Phillips to secure publication in the face of legal doubts on the latter's part [with ‘sentiments too strongly opposed to the English interest in Ireland’] and a sum of £300, going into seven editions in two years, setting a new Irish fashion in contemp. Dublin (e.g., the Glorvina mantle); made the object of attacks by J. Wilson Croker in Freeman’s Journal but receives letter of praise from R. L. Edgeworth; engages Theatre Royal for The First Attempt, or Whim of a Moment (1807), an opera featuring her father as O’Driscoll and with an epilogue by Atkinson;
 
issuedThe Lay of an Irish Harp (1807) and Patriotic Sketches (1807), written in Connaught [Connacht], addressing the tithe issue and the middle-men; travelled to London, being hosted first by Lady Stanley in Angelsey; fêted in Lonon by Lady Cork (“Corky”), meeting Byron - who later puffed Ida of Athens in “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” - and Kemble; also by Lady Donegall; conducts affair with Sir Charles Ormsby (‘one of the most brilliant wits, determined roués, agreeable persons, and ugliest men of his day’); broke with Ormsby; her sister Olivia m. Dr. Clarke (soon afterwards knighted); issued Ida of Athens (1809), after Mme de Stael’s Corinne (1807);
 
Sydney joins the household of Lord Lieutenant Marquis of Abercorn [John James Hamilton]; travels with Lord and Lady [Jane-Anne] Abercorn to Baron’s Court (N. Ireland) and afterwards to Stanmore Priory, the Abercorns’ home nr. London, meeting Lord Castlereagh there, inter al.; her portrait painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, London 1810; issues The Missionary, An Indian Tale (1811) - a favourite of Shelley, in which a Christian missionary succombs to the amatory power of an Indian princess, who dies of fever, leaving him to espousing the life of an anchorite with her pet faun; introduced by the Abercorns to T[homas] Charles Morgan, in Baron’s Court, a widower of 32 with a single dg., 1811;
 
moves to Dublin to attend her father and to write O’Donnel, a novel whose heroine Charlotte O’Halloran is named in homage to Charlotte Brooke and Sylvester O’Halloran; m. Morgan ‘specially knighted’ for the purpose and on Lady Abercorn’s insistence (‘you use Sir Charles very ill indeed … I recommend you to play no longer with his feelings’), 20 Jan. 1812; quits the Abercorn’s and settles with Morgan at 35 Kildare St., Dublin, 1813; enjoyed a wide readership for O’Donnel (1814), though opposed by Lord Lieutenant [Viceroy] as sympathetic to Catholic Emancipation and also containing a caricature of Lady Abercorn; issued Florence Macarthy (1818), dealing with new and old gentry of Connacht, the character Fitzwalter being based on Lord Edward Fitzgerald;
 
suffers repeated attacks from critics, notably John Wilson Croker [q.v.], whose Familiar Epistles (1804) she answers in a pamphlet signed “S.O.” and who later appeared as the unscrupulous Dexter in O’Donnel and as Conway Crawly in Florence MacCarthy; issues The O’Briens and the O’Flaherties (1827); also travel writings, incl. France (1817) and Italy (1821), the latter being proscribed by the King of Sardinia, the Emperor of Austria and the Pope, but praised by Byron; also Life and Times of Salvator Rosa (1824) - which she synthesised her admiration for Italian and Irish scenery; Absenteeism (1825), an essay; issues The Book of the Boudoir (1829), autobiographical sketches;
 
distrusted of Daniel O’Connell as demagogue; issue France in 1829-1830 (1830) and Dramatic Scenes of Real Life (1833); moves permanently to London, 1837; first female recipient of literary pension ($300 p.a.), 1837; spent her last years in London, continuing to entertain by singing; reputedly coined the term ‘bureaucracy’; death of Sir Richard Phillips, bookseller, 1840; The Wild Irish Girl re-issued by Henry Colborn, with author's preface (Aug. 1846); d. 16 April 1859; Passages from My Autobiography (1859); her Memoirs contain letters to Caroline Lamb, copied by her; her papers and artifacts are held in the National Library of Ireland and the RIA. ODNB PI IF NCBE DIB DIW DIH MKA RAF OCEL FDA OCIL

Lady Sydney Morgan
Lady Sydney Morgan
Portrait by René-Théodore Berthon,
bequeathed by Lady Morgan to
The National Gallery, Dublin [NGI].

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Works
Poetry
  • Poems dedicated by permission to the Countess of Moira (Dublin: Alex. Stewart 1801);
  • Twelve Original Hibernian Melodies, from the Works of the Ancient Irish Bards (London: Preston [1805]);
  • The Lay of the Irish Harp; or, Metrical Fragments (London: Phillips 1807).
Drama
  • First Attempt; or, the Whim of the Moment (Dublin: 1807).
Novels
[As Sydney Owenson, or Miss Owenson]
  • St. Clair; or, First Love (Dublin 1802), and Do., [as] St. Clair, the Heiress of Desmond, 2 vols. (London: Harding; Dublin: J. Archer 1803);
  • The Novice of St. Dominick, 4 vols. (London: R. Phillips 1805) [actually 1806];
  • The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale, in three volumes [3 vols.] (London: Phillips 1806; num. edns.);
  • Woman; or, Ida of Athens, 4 vols. (London: Longman 1809);
  • The Missionary, An Indian Tale, 3 vols. (London: J. J. Stockdale 1811), and Do. [rev. edn.] as Luxima: A Tale from India (London: Westerton 1859);
The Wild Irish Girl - Early English Editions
  • The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale / By Miss Owenson ... In three volumes ... London: printed for Richard Phillips ... 1806; as 3 vols. in 2; 17cm./12°. Vol. 1: A1 B-M\12; Vol. 2: A1 B-M\12 N\4; Vol. 3: A1 B-M\12 N\2? Printed in London - Vol. 1-2 by Buchanan McMillan, Vol. 3 by Charles Squire; woven paper, watermarked: AP / 1805 (Vol. 1 & 2); C 1806 (Vol. 3). fl.1806-1813 [printer]; papermaker A. P.; binder Alexander Thom & Co.
  • The Wild Irish Girl. A National Tale. 3rd edition (London: Richard Phillips 1807). 3 vol.; 18 cm.
  • The Wild Irish Girl. A National Tale/ by Miss Owenson ... [later Lady Morgan]. The fifth edition. In three volumes. London: Printed for Longman Hurst Rees Orme and Brown ... 1813. 3v. ; 19.8cm.; 12°. Vol. 1: [A]\2 B-K\12; Vol. 2: [A]\2 B-K\10; Vol. 3: [A]\2 B-K\12. Printed: London: Strahan and Preston.
  • The Wild Irish Girl. A National Tale. With a portrait of the author. Colburn’s standard novels. London: H. Colburn 1846, xlii, 421pp. 8º., ill. [engraved portrait of Lady Morgan].
  • The Wild Irish Girl / By Lady Morgan ... A new edition [based on 1846 edn.] (London: David Bryce, Amen Corner, Paternoster Row [1860]), [6], 438, [4]pp.; 16.7cm. Printed Henry Lea, 22, Warwick-lane, Paternoster-row London (cover).

[See COPAC - online.]


The Wild Irish Girl [1807] - Early American Editions
  • The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale / by Miss Owenson (New-York: Alsop, Brannan and Alsop 1807), 310pp. [1st American Edn.; available in Early American imprints, 2nd ser., no. 13136];
  • The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale / by Miss Owenson (Philadelphia: T.S. Manning 1807), 309pp., 12° [2nd American edn.; available in Early American imprints, 2nd ser., no. 13139].
  • The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale / by Miss Owenson (New-York: Richard Scott 1807), 309pp. [[4th American edn.; Early American imprints, 2nd. ser., No. 13137].
  • The Wild Irish Girl; A National Tale, by Miss Owenson, author of The Novice of St. Dominick, Lay of an Irish Harp, &c. &c. [epigraph] Sixth American Edition. (Boston: Published by Joseph Greenleaf, No. 49, Cornhill; Oliver and Munroe, Printers. 1808.)
  • [...]
  • The Wild Irish Girl, A National Tale. By Lady Morgan, author of St. Clair, The Novice of St. Dominic, &c. [epigraph], in Two Volumes [2 vols. bound as 1] (Hartford: Silas Andrus & Son 1855), 216 & 215pp. [ending ‘[...] then, and not till then, will you behold the day-star of national virtue rising brightly over the horizon of their happy existence [...] a liquid light [...] which genially warms and gratefully cheers the whole order of universal nature.’ The End. [See full text version available in Ricorso Library, via index or as attached; also available in Internet Archive - online.]
[As Lady Morgan]
  • O’Donnel: a National Tale, 3 vols. (London: J. J. Stockdale 1814), 18 cm. [12°], and Do. [rev. 1 vol. edn.] (London: Published for Henry Colborn; Edinburgh: Richard Bentley, Bell & Bradfute; Dublin : J. Cumming MDCCCXXXV [1835]) [see details];
  • Florence Macarthy: An Irish Tale, 4 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1818);
  • The O’Briens and the O’Flahertys: A National Tale, 4 vols . (London: Henry Colburn 1827), and Do. [another edn.], 4 vols. in 2 (Philadelphia 1828);
  • The Princess; or, The Beguine, 3 vols. (London: R. Bentley 1835) [see details].
Reprint editions
  • The Wild Irish Girl, introduced by Brigid Brophy [Mothers of the Novel ser.] (London & NY: Pandora 1986), xii, 255pp.; Do. [Revolution and Romanticism 1782-1834 Ser.] (Spelsbury: Woodstock Bks. 1995), 264 cols.; Do., ed. Claire Connolly & Stephen Copley, with a foreword by Kevin Whelan (London & Vermont: Pickering & Chatto 1997), 400pp.; and Do., ed. & intro. Kathryn J. Kirkpatrick (Oxford: OUP 1999) [Intro. pp.vii-xxiv [incl. Bibl. & Chronology p.xxff.; see extracts]. (See also American editions - infra.); with Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth, as Two Irish national tales: complete texts with introduction, historical contexts, critical essays, ed. by James M. Smith, introduced by Vera Kreilkamp [New Riverside Editions] (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 2005), viii, 447pp., ill.
  • Julia M. Wright, ed., The Missionary: An Indian Tale [by] Sydney Owenson [Lady Morgan] (Broadview Literary Texts] Toronto: Broadview Press [2002]), 337pp. [see note].
  • Catherine Alexander [ed.], Woman and Her Master, intro. by Riana O’Dwyer, together Friendly Advice to Irish Mothers, on Training their Children [1839], intro. by with Mary Luddy (London: Routledge; Thoemmes Press 1998);
  • Life of Salvator Rosa, in Sources in Irish Art: A Reader, ed., Fintan Cullen (Cork UP 2000) [with works by Edmund Burke, Samuel Madden; David Wilke Thomas Davis, George Petrie, W. B. Yeats, Elizabeth Thompson, Mainie Jellett, et al.]
Miscellaneous
  • A Few Reflections Occasioned by the Perusal of a ork entitled Familiar Epistles … [by J. W. Croker] (1804) [also listed as Pamphlet in answer to Familiar Epistles […] attributed to Mis Owenson (Dublin: Parry 1804) [but see J. W. Croker - infra];
  • Patriotic Sketches of Ireland […], 2 vols. (London: Phillips 1807);
  • France, 2 vols. (London: Colburn 1817);
  • Italy, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1821);
  • The Life and Times of Salvator Rosa, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1824);
  • Absenteeism (London: Henry Colburn 1825);
  • The Book of the Boudoir, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1829) France in 1829-1830, 2 vols. (London: Saunders & Otley 1830), and Dramatic Scenes of Real Life, 2 vols. (London: Saunders & Otley 1833);
  • Woman and Her Master, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1840);
  • [with Sir Charles Morgan,] The Book Without a Name, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn 1841)
  • Letter to Cardinal Wiseman (London: Westerton 1851);
  • Passages from My Autobiography (London: Richard Bentley 1859), xi, [1], 339pp., ill. [ 2 pls. 1 col.: front. port. facing p.1 engraved by J. B. Hunt after R.-T. Berthon];
  • Lady Morgan’s Memoirs, Autobiographies, Diaries and Correspondence, ed. W. Hepworth Dixon, 2 vols. (London: W. H. Allen 1862) [var. 1863].

See full-text version of The Wild Irish Girl (1806) in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”
- as attached; or extracts and t.p. image - as infra.
A digital edition is available at Internet Archive - online.

Bibliographical details
O’Donnel: a National Tale, / by Lady Morgan[,] [orig. 3 vols., 1814]; rep. in Colburn’s Modern Novels, Vol. III; revised edition / complete in one volume] (London: Published for Henry Colburn / Richard Bentley; Bell and Bradfute, Edinburgh; and J. Cumming, Dublin. MDXXXCCCV [1835]), xiv, 442pp., port. [16 cm.; printed by Bradbury and Evans, London, Whitefriars; (late T. Lavison)]; Notes from p.431; epigraph: ‘Art thou a gentleman? What is thy name? Discuss!’ - Shakespeare]; ded. to Duke of Devonshire / whose vast possessions in Ireland place him among / the first of her great English landholders; whose admirable feelings in her interests class him / high in the ranks of her best friends; / whose example, in the country so frequently distinguished by his presence, / is the wisdom and conciliation; / and whose conduct towards a grateful and prosperous / tenantry best evince in its effects how much / the happiness and improvement of the lower / classes of the nation depend upon the / enlightened liberality and / benevolent attentions / of the highest, // THIS IRISH TALE // is most appropriately, and most respectfully / dedicated, / by His Grace’s / most obliged and obedient servant, / SYDNEY MORGAN. A passage from “Notes” attached to this edition is copied under Charles O’Conor, q.v.; see also extract from Preface, under Quotations, infra.]

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The Princess; or, the Beguine. By Lady Morgan, Author of “O’Donnel,” &c. In Three Volumes. (London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street. (Successor to Henry Colburn.), 1835, Vol. I: 340pp.; Vol. II 332pp.; Vol. III: 383pp., 12°. [Quires & boards 31s. 6d; first noticed Nov. 1834; held in 24 libraries incl. BL and TCD Lib. Printer’s marks and colophons of Samuel Bentley, Dorset Street, Fleet Street; Bentley MS List records print run of 1,250 copies while A List of the Principal Publications Issued from New Burlington Street during the Year 1830 (London: Richard Bentley 1893) notes that it was ‘[written during a visit to Belgium, made in 1833–34, and founded on an incident during the revolution in that country.’ Further edns.: (Philadelphia 1835). French trans., 1835; German trans., 1835. [See English Novels 1830-36: A Bibliography of British Fiction (Cardiff) - online.]

Note: Julia M. Wright is author of the Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation (Ohio UP 2004) and Ireland, India and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Cambridge UP 2007) and th editor of Irish Literature, 1750-1900: An Anthology (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell 2008) and A Companion to Irish Literature, 1750-1900: An Anthology, 2 vols. (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell 2010).

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Works of Lady Morgan at sydneyowenson.com - online [available at 20.06.2010; defunct at 11.02.2015]
Lay of an Irish Harp; or Metrical Fragments (1807)
The Wild Irish Girl (1806) at
O’Donnel: A National Tale [Rev. Edn.] (1835 )
Passages from My Autobiography (1859)
Works of Lady Morgan at Google Books - online [still available at 11.02.2015]

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Criticism
Early criticism
  • W[illiam] J[ohn] Fitzpatrick, The Friends, Foes, and Adventures of Lady Morgan (Dublin: W. B. Kelly 1859); Do. [another edn. as] Lady Morgan: Her Career, Literary and Personal, with a glimpse of her friends and a word to her calumniators (London: Charles J. Skeet 1860) 308pp.;
  • W. Hepworth Dixon & Geraldine Jewsbury, ed. [& intro.], Lady Morgan’s Memoirs, Autobiographies, Diaries, Correspondence , 2 vols. (London: W. H. Allen 1862; rev. edn. 1863).

See also S. C. Hall, A Book of Irish Memoirs (London 1871) [q.pp.]; Julia Kavanagh, English Women of Letters (London: Hurst & Blackett 1863), and Elizabeth Bowen, The Shelbourne (London: George Harrap 1951; 1955), pp.69-71;

Full-length Studies
  • [Arthur] Lionel Stevenson, The Wild Irish Girl: The Life of Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan (London: Chapman & Hall 1936), 330pp., and Do. [rep.] (NY: Russell & Russell 1969);
  • Elizabeth Suddaby & P. J. Yarrow, Lady Morgan in France (London: Oriel Press 1971);
  • Mary Campbell, Lady Morgan: The Life and Times of Sydney Owenson (London: Pandora 1988), 258pp.;
  • James Newcomer, Lady Morgan the Novelist (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1990);
  • Julia McElhattan Williams, Love Beyond the Pale: Sydney Owenson's The Wild Irish Girl, Maria Edgeworth's The Absentee and the Boundaries of Colonial Power [Working Papers in Irish Studies] (Boston: Northeastern UP 1991), 8pp.;
  • Julie Donovan, Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan and the Politics of Style (Bethesda, Md.: Maunsel & Co. 2009), xii, 266pp., ill. [8pp. of pls.];
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Articles & Chapters
  • James Newcomer, ‘Lady Morgan: Generalisations and Errors’, in Etudes Irlandaises [Lille UP] Dec. 1978), q.pp.;
  • Colin B. Atkinson, and Jo Atkinson, ‘Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan: Irish Patriot and First Professional Woman Writer’, in Éire-Ireland, 15 (Summer 1980), pp.60-90.
  • Robert Tracy, ‘Maria Edgeworth and Lady Morgan: Legality versus Legitimacy’, in Nineteenth Century Fiction, 40, 1 (June 1985), pp.1-22;
  • Barry Sloan, ‘Lady Morgan’s departure and Griffin’s major works (1825-1830)’, [chap.] in The Pioneers of Anglo-Irish Fiction 1800-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe; NJ: Barnes & Noble 1986), pp.109-36;
  • Tom Dunne, ‘Fiction as “The Best History of Nations”: Lady Morgan’s Irish Novels’ in The Writer as Witness, Literature as Historical Evidence, ed. Dunne (Cork 1987), pp.133-59;
  • Elmer Andrews, "Aesthetics, Politics, and Identity: Lady Morgan's The Wild Irish Girl", in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 12 (1987), pp.7-19;
  • Thomas Flanagan, “Lady Morgan”, [chap.] in The Irish Novelists 1880-1850 (NY: Columbia UP 1959), pp.109-64;
  • A. N. Jeffares, ‘Early Efforts of the Wild Irish Girl,’ in Le Romanticisme Anglo-Americain (Paris: Didier 1971);
  • James Newcomer, ‘“Manor Sackville”: Lady Morgan’s Study of Ireland’s Perilous Case’, in Eire-Ireland (Fall 1975) [q.pp.];
  • Colin B. Atkinson & Jo Atkinson, ‘Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan: Irish Patriot and First Professional Woman Writer’, in Eire-Ireland 15, 2 (Summer 1980) pp.60-90;
  • Robert Tracy, ‘Maria Edgeworth and Lady Morgan: Legality versus Legitimacy’, in Nineteenth-century Literature, 40/1 (June 1985), pp.1-22.
  • Elmer Andrews, ‘Asesthetics, Politics and Identity: Lady Morgan’s The Wild Irish Girl’, in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 12, 2 (Dec. 1987), pp.7-19;
  • J. Th. Leerssen, ‘How the Wild Irish Girl Made Ireland Romantic’, in The Clash of Ireland: Liteary Contrasts and Connections, ed. C. C. Barfoot & Theo D’hean [IASAIL Conference Papers] (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1989), pp.98-117.
    Joseph W. Lew, ‘Sydney Owenson and the Fate of the Empire’, in Keats-Shelley Journal, 39 (1990), pp.36-65;
  • Siobhán Kilfeather, ‘Origins of the Irish Female Gothic’, in Bullán, 1, 2 (Autumn 1994), pp.35-46, espec. 39ff.;
  • Jeanne Moskal, ‘Gender, Nationality, and Textual Authority in Lady Morgan’s Travel Books’, in Romantic Women Writers: Voices and Countervoices, ed. Paula R. Feldman & Theresa M. Kelley (New Hampshire: Univ. Press of New England 1995) [q.pp; c.p.177;
  • Claire Connolly, ‘Gender, Nation and Ireland: The Early Novels of Maria Edgeworth and Lady Morgan’ (PhD; Univ. of Wales 1995);
  • Ina Ferris, ‘Narrating Cultural Encounter: Lady Morgan and the Irish National Tale’, in Nineteenth Century Fiction, 51, 3 (Dec. 1996), pp.287-303;
  • Anne Fogarty, ‘Imperfect Concord: Spectres of History in the Irish novels of Maira Edgeworth and Lady Morgan’, in Gender Perspectives in Nineteenth-century Ireland: Public and Private Spheres, ed. Margaret Kelleher & James H. Murphy (Dublin: IAP 1997), cp.116;
  • Marjorie Howes, ‘Tears and Blood: Lady Wilde and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism’, in Ideology in Ireland in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Tadhg Foley & Seán Ryder (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998), pp.151-72;
  • Mary Jean Corbett, ‘Allegories of prescription: engendering union in Owenson and Edgeworth’, in Allegories of Union: in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold (Cambridge UP 2000), x, 228pp. [being Chap. 2]
  • Susanne Hagemann, ‘Tales of a Nation: Territorial Pragmatism in Elizabeth Grant, Maria Edgeworth, and Sydney Owenson’, in Irish University Review (Autumn/Winter 2003), pp.263-78;
  • Ciaran Murray, ‘Lady Morgan and the Moonlight Menace’ [Chap. 2], in Disorientalism: Asian Subversion / Irish Visions [Transactions of the Asiatic Soc. of Japan, 5th Ser; Vol. 1] (2009), pp.19-39;
  • Christina Morin, ‘Undermining Morality? National Destabilisation in The Wild Irish Girl and Corinne ou L’Italie’, in Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives, ed. Elke d’Hoker, et al. ([Intern.] Peter Lang 2011), q.pp.
 

See also Ian Dennis, Nationalism and Desire in Early Historical Fiction (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1997), ix, 203pp. [nationalism and desire in fiction; deals with Jane Porter's The Scottish Chiefs, Sydney Owenson's The Wild Irish Girl, Sir Walter Scott's Waverley, Old Mortality, Rob Roy, The Pirate and Redgauntlet, and Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans and Lionel Lincoln; reflects thought of René Girard.]


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Commentary
See separate file, infra.

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Quotations
See separate file, infra.

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue
, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), remarks that all her poetry except the last volume appeared under the name Owenson and lists Poems (Dublin 1801); Twelve Original Hibernian Melodies with English words (1805); Lays of An Irish harp, or metrical Fragments (London 1807; NY 1808); The First Attempt, or the Whim of the Moment, a comic opera [music by Thomas S. Cooke] (London 1807); Verses to Marianne Howard, etc. (1818).

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), remarks that she protests energetically against religious and political grievances, that she caught well the outward drolleries of the lower classes, and that her novels are thoroughly Irish in manner, character, dry humour and cutting sarcasm; quotes Krans, ‘her books are a sign of the growth of a broader spirit of Irish nationality, and reflect the growing interest in Irish history and antiquities’; speaks of 70 vols., and cites the figure of 22 from Allibone. IF lists, St. Clair, or The Heiress of Desmond (1803; 1807, 1812) [imitation Werther, introduces Irish antiquary who discourses on Celtic history, &c.; deals with impossibility of Platonic love]; not Dutch trans., 1816; The Wild Irish Girl (1806; later eds., NY: Haverty, and Routledge n.d.) [Tirerragh in Sligo; prince of Inismore, wearing old dress, using old salutations, and attended by harper and shanachie; conversations on Irish antiquities and much acute political discussion; Fr. John, the then Dean of Sligo, and portraits from life in Connaught; seven eds. in two years [comm., Fitzpatrick, Krans, etc.]; O’Donnel, A National Tale] ([1st edn. 1814]; Downey edn., 1895), 288pp., ‘central figure a scion of the O’Donnells of Tyrconnel, proud, courteous, travelled … has fought in the armies of Austria and France, and finally that of England. He is the type of the old Catholic gentry and his story is made to illustrate the workings of the penal laws. … personages of the story are people of fashion, mostly titled; elaborate character study … not a little social satire … lower orders appear [solely] in person of M’Rory, faithful retainer, whose conversation is full of bulls; Lady Singleton, flippantly talkative woman of fashion, and Mr Dexter, a West Briton of those days; includes descriptions of Antrim coast and Donegal; slow reading, but regarded highly by Walter Scott [?review notice]; Florence Macarthy [1816; NY: Sadlier ed. n.d.) [kidnapped heir asserts claim; characters incl. Con Crawley, modelled on ‘unscrupulous enemy’ JC Croker, and Terence Oge O’Leary, a half-mad schoolmaster; a studious novel, made from wide reading]; The O’Briens and the O’Flahertys (1827; 3 edns. in 1827; NY: Haverty n.d.; and French edn., Les O’Briens et les O’Flaherty ou L’Irlande en 1793, trans. J. Cohen Paris: Gosselin 1828) [Catholic Emancipation but author no admirer of O’Connell; keen satire aimed at Jesuits and even the Pope; ‘some inconsistent love for republicanism and aristocracy’, acc. Fitzpatrick; patriot expelled from TCD with Robert Emmet and other, becomes United Irishman; goes to France after 1798; rise to General, and marries heroine; Castle society in days of viceroy Duke of Rutland; Lord Walter Fitzgerald orig. of Lord Walter Fitzwalter]; Dramatic Scenes from Real Life (1833) [contains ‘Mount Sackville’; shows bitterness against the Repealers’ acc. Dublin Review].

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), cites extensive secondary bibliograpy [as supra, Criticism].

Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (1946), Lady Sydney Morgan 1783-1859; The First Attempt, or Whim of the Moment (Theatre Royal, Dublin, 4 March 1807 and several nights, with £400 profit to her); published 1807.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), Vol. 2 selects The O’Brien’s and the O’Flahertys [867-73], with comments in editorial essay by W. J. McCormack; 948, BIOG. Bibl., Lionel Stevenson, The Wild Irish Girl: The Life of Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan 1776-1859 (London: Chapman & Hall 1936); see also Thomas Flanagan, The Irish Novelists 1800-50 (1959), pp.109-64; Tom Dunne, ‘Fiction as “the best history of nations”, ‘Lady Morgan’s Irish Novels’ in Tom Dunne, ed., The Writer as Witness, Literature as Historical Evidence (Cork 1987), pp.133-59. See Editorial to the effect that the father [Robert Owenson] claimed an uncertain relationship with a number of Irish country families while their mother was English and Methodist. Further, ‘The daughters’ education reflected these mixed inheritances of the rakish and the righteous, and both married gentlemen who presented them with impeccable, if minor, noble titles. In a sense, their promotion in society mirrors an aspect of the fashion for gothic … a degree of whiggishness unknown among the silver fork novelists […]’ (FDA2, pp.836-37; see further under Lady Olivia Clarke, q.v.)

Belfast Public Library holds Patriotic Sketches of Ireland (1809); Poems (1801), and The Wild Irish Girl (1846).

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Notes
Ruins in Ireland
: H[oratio] M[ortimer], the English aristocratic traveller and epistolary author of The Wild Irish Girl (1806) compares the Castle of Inismore in which the Prince of Inismore, Glorvina’s father, resides, to the ruin of Dunluce (Co. Antrim), the mainstay of the Dalriada kingdom formerly in the hands of the O’Donnells and overthrown by Sir John Perrot in the Elizabethan wars: ‘Those who have visited the Castle of Dunluce, near the Giants’ Causeway, may, perhaps, have some of its striking features in this rude draught of the Castle of Inismore.’ (Ftn. 1, Letter V.) His description of the ruin confirms with the romantic - and markedly hyperbolic - version of Irish antiquity which stands at the centre of the author’s project as a vindicator of Irish civilisation to an English audience: ‘Towards the extreme western point of this peninsula, which was wildly romantic beyond all description, arose a vast and grotesque pile of rocks, which at once formed the scite and fortifications of the noblest mass of ruins on which my eye ever rested. Grand even in desolation, and magnificent in decay – it was the Castle of Inismore. The setting sun shone brightly on its mouldering turrets, and the waves which bathed its rocky basis, reflected on their swelling bosoms the dark outlines of its awful ruins.’ (Idem.; see digital edition in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, via index or direct.)

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Dedication: The anonymous novel O’Ruarc: An Irish Tale (Dublin: Richard Milliken & Son 1832), ii, 126pp., was addressed to Lady Morgan, who expresses admiration for her talent, especially her ‘recording of Irish grievances and observations on events resulting from absentee landlords’. The work originated from ‘an idea inspired by her “Absenteeism” in which she notes the “wild legend” surrounding the death of O’Ruarc, Prince of Breffini’. The author’s explains his motives for writing: ‘to attract attention, particularly of young people towards the history of their own country’, patriotic curiosity, and the ‘desolating effects of absenteeism on the country’. (Preface, pp.[i]–ii; signed ‘The Author, Trinity College, June 1832’). [See English Novels 1830-36: A Bibliography of British Fiction (Cardiff) [online; accessed 20.06.2010.]

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Una riposta: Lady Morgan’s Italy (1821) was answered in Canonici Fachini’s Prospetto biografico delle donne italiane … con una risposta a Lady Morgan riguardante alcune accuse da lei date alle donne italiana nella sue opera L’Italie (1824). [Donnatella abbate Badin, IASIL 1998.]

Irish National: For account of opening night at Robert Owenson’s Irish National Theatre in Lady Morgan’s journal, see Robert Owenson, q.v.].

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Irish bards: In The Wild Irish Girl, Lady Morgan describes a heroic age in which the bardic order was ‘sacred’, ‘revered’ and ‘inviolable’. (Quoted in Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire, Princeton UP 1997, p.295, n.14 [note to p.6].)

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Seamus Deane has called The Wild Irish Girl (1806), ‘a novel deficient in everything a novel should have, except success.’ (Celtic Revivals 1986, pp.97-98. [Loreto Todd, The Language of Irish Literature, 1989, p.128.]

DDD: Anon., Recollections Of Dublin Castle and Dublin Society, by a native (London: Chatto & Windus 1902), pp.302. Beginning, ‘Of dear, old, and dirty Dublin - Lady Morgan’s well-known description - I was a denizen for forty years and more’. [Pamphlet, LIB HB.]

Misanthrope: Lady Morgan’s letter to Thomas Furlong in appreciation of his poem ‘The Misanthrope’ appeared in Hardiman’s Minstrelsy [See researches of Sean Mythen.]

Byron letters: Lady Morgan’s Memoirs contains transcriptions of the letters of Lord Byron to Lady Caroline Lamb, previously transcribed by Lady Lamb in confidence for her; Lady Morgan received a lock of Byron’s hair from the Contessa Guicciolo, his last lover, on his death, which she subsequently lost outside the Shelbourne hotel - as narrated with further details in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Shelbourne (1951), p.65ff.

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Salvador Rosa (1615-73), Italian painter and author of “John the Baptist in the Wilderness”, presented to the National Gallery of Ireland by the family of John Young in 1952 [being part of the collection of James Young]; “Baptism in the Jordan”, presented by [?Alf Thom], 1953, prev. in collection of James Young; both formerly preduced for Marquis Guadagni of Florence; purchased by Young in 1877; Rosa painted landscapes in their own right and admired equally in this regard with Poussin and Claude and others, but particularly admired for his wildness and grandeur and called ‘savage Rosa’ by the British, who called his work sublime. (Notes in Glasgow Art Gallery).

Portraits: There is a life-size portrait of Lady Morgan painted in Rome by René Berthon, a follower of David; this hung in her Kildare St. house and was bequeathed by her to the Irish Nation. It is now in the National Portrait Collection (Dublin). Also, Sydney Owenson as Glorvina (NLI); Lady Morgan by Samuel Lover; Miss Owenson by Thomas Lawrence (NLI), as frontispiece for The Missionary and there printed but without his signature.

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