Morgan, Lady, (Sydney), 1783-1859

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1783-12-25
Death 1859-04-14
Irish (Republic of Ireland)
English

Biographical notes:

Sydney Morgan, née Owneson, Lady Morgan, Irish-born novelist and socialite.

From the guide to the Sydney Morgan, Lady Morgan manuscript material : 22 items, 1809-1858, (The New York Public Library. Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle.)

Sydney Owenson Morgan, Irish novelist, published her first volume of verse in March 1801 and her most famous novel, The wild Irish girl, in 1806. She married surgeon Sir Thomas Charles Morgan on 20 January 1812. They moved to London between 1837 and 1839 whereupon she ceased writing.

From the description of Lady Sydney Morgan letters, 1806-1843. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 37824534

Irish writer Lady Sydney Morgan ([baptized 1783] –1859) was primarily a novelist. She also wrote books on France and Italy.

Dennis R. Dean, "Morgan , Sydney, Lady Morgan (bap. 1783, d. 1859)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19234 (accessed 11 April 2007).

From the guide to the Lady Sydney Morgan letter to Madame Thayer, undated, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Irish writer Lady Sydney Morgan ([baptized 1783] –1859) was primarily a novelist. She also wrote books on France and Italy.

Dennis R. Dean, "Morgan , Sydney, Lady Morgan (bap. 1783, d. 1859)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19234 (accessed 11 April 2007).

From the guide to the Lady Sydney Morgan letter to Henry Colburn, undated, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Biography

Lady Morgan, born Sydney Owenson (ca. December 25, 1776-April 16, 1859) was a highly successful though somewhat controversial Anglo-Irish Romantic writer, whose works include historical romances, drama, poetry, travel narrative, history, biography and critical essays. Owenson was distinguished by her ability to use historical romances to critique Anglo-Irish relations and the perils of careless and avaricious imperialism while reviving ethnic pride in Irish culture. The daughter of celebrated Irish actor and nationalist, Robert Owenson, and a Shropshire woman named Jane Hill, Owenson was raised in Dublin. She received a gentlewoman's education and was an avid autodidact as well. After her mother died and her father suffered a series of financial difficulties, Owenson went to work as a governess, and later as a writer, to help support herself and her family.

These volumes of extracts span roughly the first decade of her writing career. Her first work, Poems, Dedicated by Permission to the Countess of Moira, was published in 1801 and her first novel, St. Clair, or, the Heiress of Desmond (ca. 1803) came shortly thereafter; from then on she ceased governessing altogether in favor of writing. Owenson became one of the early creators of the carefully-researched historical fiction / historical romance genre which made Walter Scott famous. Her work, however, is more nationalistic than Scott's. Although some of her novels, such as The Novice of Saint Dominick (1807) and The Missionary (1811) do not address Ireland directly, she worked throughout her career to correct English prejudices about the history, behavior, and character of the Irish. She accomplished this most successfully in her third novel, The Wild Irish Girl (1806). The heroine, Glorvina, was so wildly popular as to make Celtic accessories fashionable in women's dress. In addition to nine novels, Owenson published essays, drama, a collection of Irish songs, a biography of the painter Salvatore Rosa, historical works (most notably Woman and Her Master [1840], a feminist approach to history), and the well-received travel narratives France (1817) and Italy (1821).

Owenson became Lady Morgan in 1812 when she married Sir Thomas Charles Morgan, who had been knighted in 1811. Though the match seems to have been successful, a condition of their marriage, an unusual one for the time, was the keeping of separate finances. This measure was due in part to Owenson's life-long preference for independence, and her continued success as a professional writer.

From the guide to the Sydney Morgan Commonplace Books, [between 1800 and 1810], (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)

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Subjects:

  • Authors, Irish--19th century
  • Women authors, Irish--Correspondence
  • Women authors, English
  • Authors, Irish--19th century--Correspondence

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