Regina Maria Roche (1764-1845)


Life
[Mrs. Roche; née Regina Maria Dalton]; b. Waterford; novels incl. The Vicar of Lansdowne (1789), The Maid of the Hamlet (1793?); sprang to fame with Children of the Abbey (1796), featuring Amanda and Oscar Fitzalan, two young people in love, robbed of their inheritance by a forged will;
 
styled “daughter of Malvina” and rivalled to Mrs. Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho (1797) in popularity, translated into French, German and Spanish; noticed by Jane Austen in Emma; also Clermont [1798], satirised by Austen in Northanger Abbey, and The Nocturnal Visit (1800), a late novel;
 
issued The Tradition of the Castle, or Scenes in the Emerald Isle (1824) is in the mould of the Absentee, recommending that landlords stay at home; d. at her residence on the Mall, Waterford; Amanda Ros [infra], was romantically self-named after a heroine in Children of the Abbey. IF DIW ODNB MKA RAF FDA ATT OCIL
 

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Works
  • The Vicar of Lansdowne, or Country Quarters, a tale (1789);
  • The Maid of the Hamlet [1793];
  • The Children of the Abbey, 4 vols. (London: William Lane 1796, 1797),12o [other editions as infra];
  • Clermont: A Tale (1798); Do., [rep. edn.] ed. Devendra P. Varma [Northanger Set of Jane Austen Horrid Novels] (London: Folio Soc., 1968), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Folio Soc. 1968).
  • The Discarded Son, or Haunts of the Banditti (1807);
  • The House of Osma and Almeria, or the Convent of St. Ildefonso (1810);
  • The Monastery of St. Columb, or, The Atonement (1810);
  • Trecothiek Bower, or the Lady of the West Country (1813);
  • London Tales, or Reflective Portraits (1814);
  • The Munster Cottage Boy (1820);
  • The Bridal of Dunamore, and Lost and Won (1823);
  • The Tradition of the Castle, or Scenes in the Emerald Isle (1824);
  • The Castle Chapel (1825);
  • Contrast (1828);
  • The Nun’s Picture (1836; [1834 Camb. Bibl.]). Reprints,
Also Nocturnal Visit [1880] and Alvondown Vicarage [1807].
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Translations
  • De Pandrediger von Landsowne (Leipzig: Weygand 1790);
  • Die Erben von Dunreath Abbey (1803), 2 vols.;
  • Der Natbesuch (1802);
  • Les enfans de l’abbaye, trad. par André Morellet (1797, 1801);
  • Oscar y Amanda: Amor y virtud triunfantes ... Verdadera y única refundicion castellana por D. E. Villapando de Cárdenas [adapt.] (1868);
  • Clermont [...] traduits de l’anglais par André Morellet (1799);
  • Contrast (1828);
  • Le Curé de Lansdowne, ou les Garnisons; Imité de l’anglois [sic] de Miss Dalton (1789);

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The Children of the Abbey: A Sweet and Interesting Tale, rendered Immortal by its Simple and Beautiful Narrations, by Regina M. Roche (London: William Nicholson & Sons, 20 Warwick Sq., Paternoster Row) [n.d.]), 446pp. [min. format]. Other editions: The Children of the Abbey: A Tale, 4 vols. (London: Minerva-Press for A. K. Newman [1805]); Do. [5th edn.] 2 vols. (Dublin: P. Wogan 1809), 12o.; Do. (Manchester: J. Gleave 1823), 759pp., 10 pls.; The Children of the Abbey: an interesting novel, founded on facts; descriptive of the adventures & misfortunes of Oscar & Amanda Fitzalan, ... who, by a forged will, were for many years unjustly deprived of their legal inheritance (London: W. Mason [?1815-1825], 36pp., pl., 18 cm. [heavily abridged]; Do. 3 vols. (Exeter: J. & B. Williams 1828), 16o.; The Children of the Abbey: A Tale [6th edn.] (London: George Virtue [1836]), 21cm.; Do. [12th edn.; 5 vols.] (Belfast: Joseph Smyth 1836), 15cm.; Do. 1 vol. (London: Daly 1839); The Children of the Abbey: A Romance (London: T. Paine [1840]), 212pp., pls., 8o. [pirated edn. of first 24 chaps. with abridgment of the rest]; The Children of the Abbey: A Tale [Notable Novels Ser.] (London: F. Warne [1880-1890?]), 256pp., 22 cm.; also The Children of the Abbey [2nd American Edn.] (NY: I. Riley 1805); Do., [7th edn.] (Philadelphia: C. & A. Conrad & Co. 1812), and Do. (NY: Richard Scott 1816), all rep. in Early American Rep. Ser. (1990). Also, Clermont: A Tale (Philadelphia: J. Conrad & Co. 1802), rep. in Early American Imprints, 2nd Ser., No. 3006. [...] Children of the Abbey, issued in parts (Shoe Lane, Fleet St., London 1881) [1 penny weekly; No. 2 given away with No. 1]- listed in Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006). [See under Quotations, infra].

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Criticism
Siobhán Kilfeather, ‘Origins of the Irish Female Gothic’, in Bullán, I, 2 (Autumn 1994), pp.35-46; espec. 43ff. [commentary on Irish gothic and The Children of the Abbey, as infra].

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Commentary
W. J. McCormack, ‘Irish Gothic and After, 1820-1945,’ in Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Literature (1991), Vol. II, pp.831-54, ‘Regina Maria Roche, née Dalton, 1765-1845, combined Irish birth and a gothic propensity in several novels on the Minerva [Press] list; The Children of the Abbey, Roche’s least forgotten novel, was first issued by Minerva in 1796 [sic]; several Irish edns. followed in Cork in 1798, and Belfast as late as 1835/36; Indeed, the book remained available throughout much of the 19th century. Its tone, at once gothic and sentimental, can be gauged from a passage in which an aged penitent [Lady Dunreath] chooses a ruined chapel in Dunreath Abbey as the place in which to make a late restitution to the heroine [quotation follows]. W. J. MacCormack notes that The Children of the Abbey (1796) gave a foretaste of the use to which later Anglo-Irish writers like Maturin and Le Fanu would put the gothic. (FDA, Vol. II, p.687.)

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Siobhán Kilfeather, ‘Origins of Female Gothic’, Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 1, 2 (Autumn 1994), pp.35-45, Kilfeather holds that the eighteenth-century Irish gothic has been most misunderstood in so far as it has been perceived as a deviation from an English genre, while critical attention to the eighteenth-century female gothic fiction has been so dominated by readings of Ann Radclifee that Radcliffe’s Italian and French settings have been defined as almost essential to the genre’, and further that such a focus has overlooked the work of her contemporary Regina Maria Roche whose early novels, The Children of the Abbey and Clermont, were almost as popular as Radcliffe’s fiction. (p.36-37; and see note on ‘female Gothic’, infra.]

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Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton UP 1997): ‘In the early nineteenth century, Scottish and Irish novelists of this period often find their primary inspiration in each other’s work, and the constant copying and cross-pollination between the Irish and Scottish novel amount almost to a transperipheral literary life, just as the characters in Regina Maria Roche’s Children of the Abbey (1796) spend the whole novel crossing back and forth from one periphery to another, from Ireland to Wales to Scotland to Ireland to Scotland to Ireland. London is no longer the center of novelistic consciousness.’ (p.17.)

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Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1839’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. I [Chap. 10]: ‘The national tale's distinctive generic qualities are the result of efforts by (chiefly) Irish female writers to give fictional shape to an interrelated set of concerns, including history, property and national conduct. [...] An indicative arc can be observed in the writings of the Waterford-born Regina Maria Roche (1763/4-1845). Her Gothic bestseller Children of the Abbey (1798) – still in print as late as the 1890s and the basis of an early silent film – has occasional Irish references. Her home country then comes more fully into view with Clermont: A Tale (1798). Roche continued to write formulaic fictions for the Minerva Press, but by 1820 had moved into a recognisably Irish mode with The Munster Cottage Boy (1820), which draws heavily on the plot and style of The Wild Irish Girl. Much more than the intellectually respectable but still eccentric experiment that was Castle Rackrent, then, the success of The Wild Irish Girl is to credit (or blame) for making Ireland a recognisable location within the world of Romantic-era fiction.’ (p.451; for full text, go to RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, via index or direct.)

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Quotations
Children of the Abbey [1976] (Nicholson Edn.): ‘Hail, sweet asylum of my infancy! Content and innocence reside beneath thy humble roof, and charity unboastful of the good it renders. Hail, ye venerable trees! my happiest hours of childish gaiety were passed beneath your shelter - then careless as the birds that sung upon your boughs, I laughed the hours away, nor knew of evil. Here unmolested may I wait until the rude stormof sorrow is overblown, and my father’s arms again receive me. / So spake Amanda, as the chaise (which she had hired on quitting the mail) turned down a verdant lane darkened by old trees, which allowed her scarecely a glimpse of her nurse’s cottage, till she had reached the door. / Tender recollections rendered her almost unable to alight; but the nurse and her husband, who had been watching her arrival, assisted her, and the form half stifled her with caresses; the latter kiseed her hand, and dropped a tear of joy upon it. “Lort [sic], what an alteration a few years had made in her person ... (p.[5]). [Cont.]

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Children of the Abbey [1976 Edn.] - cont.: ‘The cold reserve of Amanda by degrees wore away; her heart felt that Lord Mortimer was one of the most amiable, most pleasing of men; she could scarcely distinguish in any degree, the lively pleasure she experienced in his society; nay, she scarcely thought it necessary to disguise it, for it resultd a much from innocence as sensibility, and was placed ot the acount of friendship. But soon Lord Mortimer discovered he might ascribe it to a softer impulse, and that he had secured an interest in her heart, ere she was aware, whcih the effects of subsequent resolition could not overcome. He was the companion of her rambles, the alleviator of her griefs, and th cares which so often saddened her brow, vanished at his presence.’ (p.34.) ‘“Do you think, then, said Amada, I would enter your family amdist confusion and altercation? No! my Lord, rashly and clandestinely, I will never consent to it [...] any sacrifice, my Lord, compatible with virtue and filial duty, most willingly I would make; but beyond these limits, I must not, I cannot, will not step.”’ (p.130.) ‘“Wretched!” repeated the prioress, “for heaven’s sake be explicit: you sicken my heart with your agitation: it foretells something dreadful!” / “It does indeed”, said Amanda, “it foretells that Lord Mortrimer and I shall neve be united.”’ (p.227.)

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References
Dictionary of National Biography entry cites 16 titles, and says that ‘after Children, she industriously worked at a similar style of fiction ...’ (entry by D.J. O’D[onoghue]).

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), b.1765-1845, calls Roche a once celebrated novelist; lists, The Children of the Abbey [1798], chiefly concerning earls and marquises; The Munster Cottage Boy (1820), in which a little girl Fidelia is exploited by sundry till she meets her father and discovers herself an heiress; The Bridal of Dunamore (1823), Rosalind, beautiful but haughty and ambitious and the misery she causes to many; The Tradition of the Castle, or Scenes in the Emerald Isle (1824), Donoghue O’Brien is kept apart from his Eveleen Erin, opens with last session of Irish Parliament, and contains nationalist sentiment with a message for absentee landlords to stay at home; The Castle Chapel (1825), a marriage between an O’Neill and one Rose Cormack, a separation compelled by her wife-murdering father Mr Mordaunt, she leaves her fortune; lists The Children of the Abbey as 1798 [err.].

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature (Gale 1978), she achieved enormous popularity with her sentimental novel The Children of the Abbey (1796); O’Donoghue’s ODNB entry embraces information in obituary in Gentleman’s Mag., NS 24 (1845), and paragraphs of Notes and Queries, 6th ser. 10 (1884). Other works with Irish settings incl. The Munster Cottage Boy (1820); The Bridal of Dunamore, and Lost and Won (1823); The Tradition of the Castle, or Scenes in the Emerald Isle (1824), and The Castle Chapel (1825).

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COPAC lists Bridal of Dunamore: and, Lost and Won (1823); The Castle Chapel: A romantic tale (1825); Do., trans. as La Chapelle du vieux château de Saint-Donlagh, ou les Bandits de Newgate (1825); The children of the Abbey, A Tale, &c. (1796), and Do. [2nd edn.] (1797); The Children of the Abbey: A Romance. (1805); The Children of the Abbey: a tale / By Regina Maria Roche . 1809, 1823, 1825, 1828, 1836, 1843, 1880, 1882, 1890 1990; Children of the Abbey: A Tale (1863, 1870); The Children of the abbey: an interesting novel, Founded on Facts; Descriptive of the Adventures & Misfortunes of Oscar & Amanda Fitzalan, ... Who, by a Forged Will, Were for Many Years Unjustly Deprived of their Legal Inheritance (1825, 1826); The Children of the Abbey. [edn. of first 24 chapss with an abridgment of the remainder(1840), with pls.; Do. trans. as Les enfans de l’abbaye, trad. par André Morellet. Orné de gravures (1797, 1801); Do., trans. as Oscar y Amanda. Amor y virtud triunfantes ... Verdadera y única refundicion castellana por D. E. Villapando de Cárdenas. [adapt.] (1868); Clermont: A Tale (1798); Clermont: A Tale in 4 vols, ed. D. P. Varma (1968; another edn. 1990); Clermont [...] traduits de l’anglais par André Morellet (1799); Contrast (1828); Le Curé de Lansdowne, ou les Garnisons. Imité de l’anglois [sic] de Miss Dalton (1789); The discarded Son: or, Haunt of the Banditti - A tale (1807), and Do. rep edn. (1990); The Houses of Osma and Almeria; or, Convent of St. Ildefonso: A Tale (1810), and Do. rep edn. (1990); London Tales; or, Reflective Portraits (1814); The Maid of the Hamlet: A Tale [2nd edn., enl.] (1800, 1802); The Monastery of St. Columb; or, The Atonement: A Novel (1813, rep. 1990); The Munster Cottage Boy: A Tale (1820); Nocturnal Visit: A Tale, &c. (1800, rep. 1990), and Do., trans. as. La visite nocturne: traduit de l’anglais […] trad. par J. B. J. Breton (1801), and Do. as La Visite nocturne, &c. [Translated by P. L. Lebas.] (1801); The Nun’s Picture: A Tale (1836), another edn. 3 vols. (1843); Rosine et Lydie ou les Dangers de la Coquetterie / par Regina-Maria Roche, auteur des Enfans de l’abbaye, de la Fille du hameau, de Clermont, &c., Traduit de l’anglais par Ch**** (1790) [sic]; The Tradition of the Castle; or, Scenes in the Emerald Isle (1824); Trecothick Bower: or, the Lady of the West Country: A Tale (1814, rep. 1990); The Vicar of Lansdowne; or, Country Quarters: A Tale (1789, 1800, rep. 1990).

Belfast Public Library holds Castle Chapel, 3 vols. (1821); Children of the Abbey, 3 vols. (1835).

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Notes
Variant dates of birth: Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), gives b.?1764. Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), gives 1765 and.

Sister of Oscar: Amanda in Children of the Abbey has a br. Oscar Fitzalan, who loves Adela (‘Oh, who shall paint his transports, after all his sufferings, to be thus rewarded!’, p.441.)

Female Gothic: The term was coined by Ellen Moers in allusion to the fact that in the late eighteenth century one found for the first time a genre written by women for women. (See Moers, Literary Women, 1976 &c.; also Richard Bradford, Introducing Literary Studies, p.608.)

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