Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846)


Life
[née Browne; afterwards Phelan; fin. Tonna; occas. publ. as “Charlotte Elizabeth”;] b. Norwich, 1 Oct., dg. Rev. Michael Browne, minor canon in Norwich; m. Capt. Phelan and lived unhappily with him in Ireland; separated when he was posted to Nova Scotia; met Hannah More, evangelist (?Sept. 1824); wrote numerous anti-Catholic tracts for Dublin Tract Society as ‘Charlotte Elizabeth’ early in 1820s; lived in Kilkenny and other parts of Ireland; her novel Derry: A Tale of the Revolution [1824] went into many editions, and was later revised in response to Presbyterian criticism;
 
wrote improving works incl. Anne Bell; Or, My Faults (1826), The Simple Flower (1826), Philip, And His Garden (1827), all for Religious Tract Society in London, serving the Irish market; best remembered for Orange ballads such as “The Maiden City” and “No Surrender” protesting against suppression of Orange Order in 1825; Deserter (1836); m. Lewis Hippolytus J. Tonna (1812-37), asst-dir. of United Service Institution and a religious controversialist; moved to London on husband’s death in 1837; wrote The Lady Flora Hastings; issued Letters from Ireland, 1837 (1838);
 
her later fiction incl. Conformity (1841), Falsehood and Truth (1841) and Helen Fleetwood: A Tale of the Factories (1841); she also issued Personal Recollections [q.d.] d. 12 July 1846; there is a life by Mrs C. L. Balfour. ODNB PI IF JMC DBIV SUTH OCIL


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Works
  • Combination: A Tale Founded on Facts (Dublin: Religious Tract and Book Society for Ireland 1832), 198pp. [see details];
  • The Deserter (Dublin: Religious Tract and Book Society for Ireland 1836), 232pp. [see details];
  • Derry, A Tale of Revolution in 1688 [1824] (London: Nisbet 1833 and edns. incl. 1839; 1886), xvi, 317pp. [see details];
  • Letters from Ireland, 1837 (1838).
Reprints
  • Irish Recollections, ed. Patrick Maume (Dublin: UCD Press 2004), 208pp. [incorp. Personal Recollections].

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Bibliographical details
Combination: A Tale, founded on facts. By Charlotte Elizabeth. (Dublin: Published by the Religious Tract and Book Society for Ireland, and sold at their Depository, 22 Upper Sackville Street, W. Curry, Jun. and Co. and R. M. Tims, Dublin; at the Society’s Depository, 32 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, J. Nisbet, Houlston and Son, Hamilton Adams and Co. London; Waugh and Innes, Edinburgh; G. Gallie, Glasgow, 1832), 198pp., ill., 18°. [2s.] Frontispiece, facing t.p., illustrates p.78, and bears legend ‘To anyone who had seen the Rileys, a year before, how shocking the contrast of their present appearance’. Printer’s mark reads: ‘Thomas J. White, 149 Abbey Street’. English Cat. of Books, 1801-1836, ed. R. A. Peddie & Q. Waddington (London 1914; facs. rep. NY: Kraus 1963) gives publisher as ‘Groombridge’ [i.e., Richard Groombridge of London]. Further edn.: (New York 1844). Note: not listed in COPAC but held in TCD Library as OLS-B-2-85. [See English Novels 1830-36: A Bibliography of British Fiction (Cardiff) - online.]

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The Museum. By Charlotte Elizabeth. (Dublin: Published by the Religious Tract and Book Society for Ireland, and sold at their Depository, 22, Upper Sackville Street, W. Curry, jun. and Co. and R. M. Tims, Dublin; at the Society's Depository, 32 Sackville Street, Piccadilly; J. Nisbet, Houlston and Son, Hamilton Adams and Co. London; Waugh and Innes, Edinburgh; G. Gallie, Glasgow, 1832), 187pp., 18°. cloth [2s] first noticed July 1832; copies in 3 libraries - BL (4413.ee.33), TCD Library and one other. Footnotes contain quotations from the Bible. Printer's mark and colophon of Thomas I. White, 149, Abbey Street, Dublin. Collates in twelves and sixes alternately. Further edns: 2nd edn. (1833); 3rd edn. (1837); (1841); (New York 1835). [See English Novels 1830-36: A Bibliography of British Fiction (Cardiff) - online.]

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The Deserter, By Charlotte Elizabeth. (Dublin: Religious Tract and Book Society for Ireland. Sold at the Depository, 22, Upper Sackville-St., also at 32, Sackville-Street, and by J. Nisbet and Co., London; Waugh and Innes, Edinburgh; G. Gallie, Glasgow; and by other Booksellers, 1836), 232pp., 12° [4s.; first noticed March 1836; held in 4 libraries incl. BL and TCD Lib. Printer's mark reads: ‘George Folds, Printer, 1, St. Andrew-street. (Opposite Trinity-street)’. Further edn: (New York 1845). [See English Novels 1830-36: A Bibliography of British Fiction (Cardiff) - online.]

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Derry: A Tale of the Revolution, by Charlotte Elizabeth [pseud.] (London: James Nisbet 1833), iv, 382pp., 8o; Do. [new edn.] (London: James Nisbet & Co. 1873), xxiv, 317, 8pp., 12o. [see remarks by Patrick Maume in Notes, infra.]

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Criticism
Clíona Murphy [essay on Tonna], in Tom Dunne & Laurence M. Geary, ed., History and the Public Sphere: Essays in Honour of John A Murphy, introduced by Conor Cruise O’Brien (Cork UP 2005); Kara M. Ryan, ‘The siege of O’Connell: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna’s historical novels of Ireland’, in Evangelicals and Catholics in Nineteenth-century Ireland, ed. James H. Murphy (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2005), Chap. 5, [p.73ff.]

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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: ‘[…] for Tonna, it [Whiteboy agitation] was a “poisonous excrescence formed upon the tree of her [Ireland’s] national prosperity, and eaten into its heart’s core”. [The Rockites (London: Nisbet 1829), pp.1-2.] Tonna (1790-1846), born Charlotte Elizabeth Browne, lived in Kilkenny from 1819 to 1824 with her first husband, Captain Phelan, and while in Ireland began a series of religious tracts, published as the work of “Charlotte Elizabeth”, which were fiercely denunciatory of contemporary Roman Catholicism. Her most successful novel, Derry: A Tale of the Revolution (1833), provided a fictional retelling of the siege of Derry (1689), heavily drawn from John Graham’s 1823 history; lurid but also compelling in its depiction, the novel had reached its tenth edition by 1847 and was reprinted throughout the nineteenth century. In the 1840s, Tonna’s writings also became highly popular in America, with a two-volume collection of her works published in 1844, and introduced by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Along with the Irish material, the collection included reprints of Tonna’s industrial novel Helen Fleetwood (1841) and her Personal Recollections (1841), together with extensive selections from her poetic writing. / Known in her day as a social reformer as well as an evangelical writer, Tonna was also the author of The Wrongs of Woman (1843), a denunciation, through moral tales, of contemporary working conditions for English women and children.’ (p.459.)

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Quotations
The Maiden City”: ‘Where Foyle his swelling Waters / Rolls northward to the main, / Here, Queen of Erin’s Daughters, / Fair Derry fixed her reign; A holy temple crowned her, / And commerce graced her street, / A rampart wall was round her / The river at her feet; / And here she sat alone, boys / And, looking from the hill, / Vowed the maiden on her throne, boys, / Would be a Maiden still. … Next, crushing all before him, / A kingly wooer came / (The royal banner o’er him / Blushed crimson deep for shame); / He showed the Pope’s commission, / Nor dreamed to be refused … And Derry’s sons alike defy / Pope, traitor, or pretender; / And peal to heaven their ’prentice cry, / Their patriot - ‘No Surrender!’ (Given Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature, 1904; also in John Cooke, Dublin Book of Irish Verse 1909.)

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The Orangeman’s Submission”: [‘We’ve furled the banner that waved so long / Its sunny folds around us / We’ve still the voice of our ancient song, / And burst the tie that bound us. / No, no, that tie, that sacred tie, / Cannot be loosed or broken / And thought will flash from eye to eye / Though never word be spoken’; [Two stanzas and some lines, then:] ‘Our love to thee, dear injured land, / By mocking foes derided; / Our duteous love to the Royal hand,/ By traitorous craft misguided,/ banner and bade and name alone / At our monarch’s call we tender / The loyal truth that guards the throne / We’ll keep - and No Surrender!’

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (1912), lists Osric, A Missionary Tale, and Other Poems (Dublin ?1825), several eds.; Izram, A Mexican Tale, and Other Poems (London 1826); The Convent Bell and Other Poems (NY 1845); Posthumous and Other Poems (London: Thomas Ditton 1846); The Minor Poems of C. E. (Dublin ?1848).

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Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington 1904), notes that she signed contribs. ‘Charlotte Elizabeth’; best known for vigorous Orange songs quoted infra; b. 1 Oct., 1790, dg. Rev. M. Browne of Norwich; m. Capt. Phelan, separated, m. L. .H. J, Tonna, lived in Kilkenny, becoming deeply in love with that part of Ireland; Oscric; Izrani, A Mexican Tale, and The Convent Bell, Poems; Dublin Tract Society; ed religious publications. JMC selects ‘The Maiden City’ and ‘The Orangeman’s Submission’ verses written and published anonymously when the Orange Institution was disbanded.

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), records that she lived in Kilkenny and other parts of Ireland for many years; tracts; several volumes of verse; The Rockite [1832], Tithe War from Protestant standpoint, c.1820, opposed to Moore’s work of 1824; and Derry, A Tale of Revolution ([1839]; 6th ed. 1886); contrib. proceeds of sale towards teaching of the Protestant religion ‘in their own tongue to the Irish speaking aborigines of the land’ (Pref.); ‘Popery is the curse of God upon the land’; this and similar views expressed throughout. See also Alan Eager, bibl., Tonna, C. E. [pseud. Charlotte Elizabeth Tonne], Personal Recollections (n.d.).

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British Library lists 36 titles incl. Derry: A Tale of the Revolution, by Charlotte Elizabeth [pseud.] (London: James Nisbet 1833), iv, 382pp., 8o; Do. [new edn.] (London: James Nisbet & Co. 1873), xxiv, 317, 8pp., 12o.

COPAC (Manchester) lists Osric: A Missionary Tale; with The Garden, and Other Poems (1825); Zadoc, the Outcast of Israel (1825); Anne Bell; or The Faults (1826); The Grandfathers Tales, &c. (1826); Izram; a Mexican Tale; and Other Poems (1826); Perseverence; or, Walter and His Little School (1826); The Bird’s Nest. (1827); The Hen and Her Chickens. (1827); The System; A Tale of the West Indies (1827); The Willow Tree. (1828); The Rockite: An Irish Story (1829, 1846); The Swan (1829); Try again. (1831); The Burying Ground. (1830, 1832); Little Oaths. (1830); Maternal Martyrdom: A Fact, Illustrative of the Improved Spirit of Popery, in the Nineteenth Century. (1830); Answering Again (1831); The baby (1831); The Glow-Worm (1831); The Wasp. (1831); The Bible; The Best Book (1832); The Dying Sheep. (1832); The Fortune Teller (1832); White Lies. (1833); Derry; A Tale of the Revolution (1833, and edns. to 1885); The Oak-Grove (1833); The Newfoundland Fisherman: A True Story. (1835); Good and Bad Luck (1834); A Few Words on the Eightieth Psalm (1835); Chapters on Flowers (1836 , 1839); Letters from Ireland [in] 1837 (1838); Glimpses at the Past (1839); Conformity; A Tale (1841); Helen Fleetwood (1841); A Peep into Number Ninety [of “Tracts for the Times”, by J. H. Newman (1841); Judah’s Lion (1843); Personal Recollections (1843); Second Causes; or, Up and Be Doing (1843); Principalities and Powers in Heavenly Places (1844); The Works of Charlotte Elizabeth, intro. by Mrs. H. B. Stowe (1844), with port.; The Minor Poems of Charlotte Elizabeth, written especially for Juvenile Readers […] (1848). ill. engrav.; Posthumous and Other Poems (1846); War with the Saints (1848); Short Stories for Children. (1850), ill.; Juvenile Tales for Juvenile Readers. (1861), ill., pls.; Philip and His Garden. With Other Stories (1861), ill. by W.S. Coleman; Stories from the Bible; to which is added Paul the Martyr of Palestine (1861); Rachel; or, Little faults, &c. (1862), ill.; The Happy Mute: A Memoir of John Britt (1871); Kindness to Animals (1877), ill.; Also Ivanka Kovacevic, ed., Fact into Fiction: English Literature and the Industrial Scene, 1750-1850. 1975); Falsehood and Truth ; Conformity (1975);

Ulster Libraries: BELFAST CENTRAL LIBRARY holds Derry, fiction (1834); Deserter (1836); The Lady Flora Hastings; Letters from Ireland (1838); Personal Recollections [q.d.]. UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER (Morris Collection) holds Derry, a Tale of the Revolution of 1688 (1886) 317pp; Letters from Ireland, 1837 (1838).

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Notes
Patrick Maume writes: ‘[…] the sixth and subsequent editions of Derry (the text normally found in second-hand bookshops) differ from the original version, which places much more emphasis on Anglican-Presbyterian dissensions among the defenders of the city. This was harshly criticised by J. S. Reid (History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) as uncritically repeating and exaggerating accusations made by anti-Presbyterian Anglican polemicists, and she revised the book after Henry Cooke drew Reid’s criticisms to her attention.’ (Email to RICORSO, April 2004.)

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