Devoted to the varied writings of the influential novelist, children's author, and educator, this collection situates Edgeworth's writing in the context of her life and times. Combining postcolonial, historical, and gender criticism, the contributors offer fresh readings of Edgeworth's novels, stories, letters, and educational texts, including Belinda, Moral Tales, Practical Education, Helen, and The Absentee. Throughout her work, Edgeworth confronts a world whose values, while grounded in tradition and supported by slavery and colonial domination, are being challenged and ultimately changed in surprising ways by women, peasants, servants, and other voices from the margins. In discussing Edgeworth and her writing, the contributors also offer innovative perspectives on the novel and other central issues of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. The collection will be invaluable to established scholars working in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, women's studies, and children's literature, as well as to students encountering Edgeworth for the first time.
Contents: Introduction: A story to tell, Julie Nash; West Indian Obeah and English 'Obee': race, femininity, and questions of colonial consolidation in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, Alison Harvey; Maria and Rachel: transatlantic identities and the epistolary assimilation of difference, Eve Tavor Bannet; Not the angel in the house: intersections of the public and private in Maria Edgeworth's Moral Tales and Practical Education, Mona Narain; Maria Edgeworth and the 'true use of books' for 18th-century girls, Kathleen B. Grathwol; Finding her own voice or 'being on her own bottom': a community of women in Maria Edgeworth's Helen, Frances R. Botkin; 'I thought I never set my eyes on a finer figure of a man': Maria Edgeworth scrutinizes masculinity in Castle Rackrent, Ennui, and The Absentee, Irene Basey Beesemyer; Revising stereotypes of nationality and gender: why Maria Edgeworth did not write Castle Belinda, Joanne Cordon; 'Standing in distress between tragedy and comedy': servants in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, Julie Nash; Justice, citizenship, and the question of feminine subjectivity: reading The Absentee as a historical novel, Kara M. Ryan; Maria Edgeworth and the Irish 'thin places', Laura Dabundo; Index.