Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fortnightly Book, July 21

Maria Edgeworth was born in Oxfordshire, but her family was Irish, and indeed had a small estate in Edgeworthstown/Mostrim, which was where she spent most of her life -- she essentially supported herself by a mix of managing the estate and writing. The latter turned out to be surprisingly profitable -- at least for part of her career, she was easily among the most successful writers of the day.

Her second novel, Belinda, was her first triple-decker, published in 1801. It is a coming-of-age novel about a young woman, as you would probably expect from the title, and it is one of the novels that attempts to follow in the footsteps of Fanny Burney in establishing a form of novel-writing that is of moral value. She herself rejects the name 'novel' for it, because of its potential dubious associations and prefers instead to call it a Moral Tale; as she puts it in the Advertisement, she would be happy to call it a novel, but "so much folly, errour, and vice are disseminated in books classed under this denomination" that it would be better to call it something else. Belinda, of course, is the next fortnightly book.

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