Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth was born in England on 1 January 1767, at the Black Bourton, about fourteen miles from Oxford. She was the second child born to Richard Lovell Edgeworth by his first marriage.

After the birth of his first child Richard resided with his father in Ireland for a year. He then returned to England and so Maria was born there. However, most of her subsequent life was spent in Ireland.

Maria's mother died in 1773 when Maria was still a child of six. Her father remarried on 17 July 1773 and immediately returned to Edgeworthstown, County Longford, taking his new wife and children with him.

Maria spent the next two years there, after which she was sent back to school in England; first to Mrs. Lataffiere's school at Derby, and then in 1780, to the more advanced school of Mrs. Davis in London.

In 1782 she accompanied her father and his third wife to Edgeworthstown and upon his suggestion, began to translate Mme. De Genlis's Adele et Theodore.

She was shy by nature, but she frequently paid visits to the Granards at Castle Forbes and the Longfords at Pakenham Hall, both close friends of the family and good examples of the more progressive landlord, by the standards of that time.

Like her father, although born in England she spent a majority of her 83 years living in Edgesworthstown House.

She loved Edgesworthstown and its surrounding countryside especially in the spring and early summer, when the lilacs and laburnum were in bloom and she could survey the gardens from her window.

In fact love of her locality is one of the reasons she turned down a marriage proposal from the great love of her life, Chevalier Edelcrantz, private secretary to the King of Sweden.

Acceptance would mean having to live abroad, although the fact that she also was deeply involved in her father's affairs, particularly child-minding was also a contributing factor.

As with most of her class of this time events in her life can be traced from her letters, many of which still survive.

Friday, February 10, 1847

My dear Miss Powell,

Mr P. will tell you that I have recd from the good Quakers 20s for soup establishment and have handed the sum to him - Also I have £10 for female employment - £5 I have put in Mr. E's hands and £5 I send you for that purpose.

Yours most truly,

Maria Edgeworth.

("Miss Powell" was the wife of Rev. John Powell, Church of Ireland minister in Edgeworthstown, who was prominent in famine relief.)

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