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By Heidi Kaufman, Chris Fauske

Lately, Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) has been the topic of accelerating curiosity. a girl, a member of the landholding elite, an educator, and a daughter who lived less than the ancient shadow of her father, Edgeworth's existence is hard to categorize. paradoxically, the very points of Edgeworth's identification that after excluded her from literary and ancient discussions now shape the root of present curiosity in her lifestyles and her writing. This choice of essays builds on current scholarship to boost new views approximately Edgeworth's position in English and Irish historical past, literary heritage, and women's heritage. those essays discover the ways that Edgeworth's whole grownup existence was once an try and reconcile the irreconcilable, an try and justify and protect her personal privileged place whilst she stated the tenuousness of that place and as she sought to say different privileges denied her.

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Extra resources for An Uncomfortable Authority: Maria Edgeworth and Her Contexts

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Edgeworth maintained some contact during the 1790s with acquaintances in the United Irishmen movement through their common membership of the Royal Irish Academy. His paper to that body on the telegraph (1795) placed an emphasis on secrecy and encryption that was evidently considered suspicious by some of his neighbors in Co. Longford, and perhaps by the authorities. Otherwise, R. L. 18 Maria Edgeworth’s play Whim for Whim (written November 1798), a comedy about a secret society, signals her sympathy with Beddoes and with the idealistic reformer and United Irish- ‘‘MORE INTELLIGENT TREASON’’ 43 man, Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

Application of these terms to Edgeworth is based on assumptions, rather than on a close reading of either Edgeworth’s texts or the cultural and political contexts for her work. 27 The Edgeworths were regarded as reformers and radicals of a rather older provenance and with an international rather than a nationalist agenda. Their vocabulary was closer to Rousseau’s than to Paine’s, and they were tolerant in respect of religion. Maria Edgeworth’s register was hardly aristocratic; her distinctive feature was her detailed, focused attention to the language, manners, and daily lives of the Irish masses.

Did they establish working relationships and social camaraderie with the urban lower orders in Dublin, Ulster, or Wexford, or actually join the peasant-based Defenders? Or was the motivation for expressions of interest in Gaelic Irish essentially practical—the need to recruit men for an armed struggle to come? William Drennan, Belfast Presbyterian, physician, and poet, had a position of seniority in the movement, and it was he who, in October 1791, called together a group of Belfast friends and colleagues willing to bind themselves together by oath in the first Society of United Irishmen.

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