Maria Edgeworth

The Absentee
  • The Absentee

  • Lord and Lady Clonbrony are more concerned with fashionable London society than with their responsibilities to those who live and work on their Irish estates. Concerned by this negligence, their son Lord Colambre goes incognito to Ireland to observe the situation and to discover the truth about the origins of his beloved cousin Grace. Can he find a solution that will bring prosperity and contentment to every level of society, including his own family? Rich in atmosphere and local character, The Absentee (1812) helped establish the 'regional' novel form, which influenced such varied writers as Scott, Thackeray and Turgenev. In this sparkling satire on Anglo-Irish relations, Maria Edgeworth created a landmark work of morality and social realism.

MARIA EDGEWORTH was born in 1768. Her first novel, Castle Rackrent (1800) was also her first Irish tale. The next such tale was Ennui (1809), after which came The Absentee, which began life as an unstaged play and was then published (in prose) in Tales of Fashionable Life (1812), as were several of her other stories. They were followed in 1817 by the last of her Irish tales, Ormond. Maria Edgeworth died in 1849. Edited with an introduction and notes by Marilyn Butler

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