Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849) was the second child of Anglo-Irish Richard Lovell Edgeworth, a political liberal and enlightened educator. Her pioneering regional novels set in Ireland and sparkling comedies of high-life English manners, from Belinda (1801) to Patronage (1814) to Helen (1834), commanded unprecedented advances and were major best-sellers. They followed the success of her first book, Castle Rackrent, a satire on Anglo-Irish landlords which was submitted and published anonymously.
Maria Edgeworth was read and admired by Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Byron, Stendhal, Turgenev and Ruskin. She never married and lived, from age 14 until her death aged 81, at her father’s estate in Edgeworthstown in the Irish Midlands.
Introductions to our Maria Edgeworth editions are by John Mullan, Professor of English at UCL. He hosts the Guardian Book Club, and contributes regularly to Newsnight Review, the LRB and the New Statesman.
Maria Edgeworth on wikipedia.