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19th Century Seminar Presents: Susan Manly, “The Bigrapher, the ‘Philosophical Spectatress,’ and the ‘Writer in Society’: Maria Edgeworth’s Letters to Etienne Dumont and Expanded Authorship"

Between 1805 and 1828, the Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth enjoyed a lively, sometimes passionate, and always ideas-filled correspondence with Etienne Dumont. Dumont's political life began in republican Geneva in the early 1780s, took him to revolutionary Paris and a writing partnership with Mirabeau, and then continued with his immersion in progressive English liberal circles and a long collaboration with Jeremy Bentham.

In this talk, Manly explores how Edgeworth’s warm friendship and epistolary conversations with Dumont illuminate for us how Edgeworth thought about her identity as an author and thinker, and reflect the development of her ideas about how a woman might approach public affairs, political philosophy and political action.

SUSN MANLY is a Reader in English at the University of St. Andrews. Her research interests are in Romantic-period Irish and English literature, and in particular in writing published in the 1790s. She is an expert on the work of Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849), a best-selling Irish contemporary of Jane Austen, and has produced scholarly editions of a wide range of Edgeworth's writings, including her innovative books for children and young adults. She is currently completing a political biography of Edgeworth. This will be the first account of Edgeworth's life to appear in the last 45 years. It will provide a new assessment of Edgeworth's intellectual and political life, looking at her milieu, correspondence, allegiances, interventions, and influence. Edgeworth's sustained engagements with debates about Ireland, about slavery and about women will form a major part of the story told in this biography.

Her next monograph after the Edgeworth biography will draw on this research and is provisionally entitled Schools for Treason: Radical and Reformist Writing for Children, 1780-1825

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Monday, March 29, 2021 at 11:30am to 12:45pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Social Sciences


Current Students, Faculty & Staff, General Public

Contact Name

Rochelle Davis

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