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The Real Maria: Reading and selecting from Maria Edgeworth’s original letters, 1782 – 1849

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Time and Place

Wednesday Apr. 25

RDS - Library

Opening Times and Admission

Wednesday Apr. 25: 18:30 - 19:30

Event Website and Email


Organiser's Contacts

Dublin 4

Tel 01 240 7254

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The RDS Library is delighted to participate in the programme associated with Dublin: One City One Book and its chosen book for 2018, 'The Long Gaze Back: An anthology of Irish Women Writers', edited by Sinead Gleeson.

The anthology spans four centuries and features some of Ireland’s most gifted writers. It won The Best Irish-Published Book at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in 2016.

The Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth features in the anthology with a short story called, 'The Purple Jar'. January 1st 2018 also marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Maria, who was born in Black Bourton, Oxfordshire in 1768.

The RDS Library has invited Valarie Pakenham to bring insight to the life of Maria Edgeworth as part of the RDS Library Speaker Series, with a talk titled: 'The Real Maria: Reading and selecting from Maria Edgeworth’s original letters, 1782-1849'.

Maria was a prolific and fascinating letter writer. She insisted that her letters were for private consumption only, but after her death, her stepmother and half-sisters produced a private memoir for friends using carefully selected extracts. Their literary quality was spotted by Augustus Hare, whose shortened version, 'The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth', appeared in 1894.

Valerie Pakenham has recently edited, 'Maria Edgeworth’s Letters From Ireland', and the selection was published in a book by Lilliput Press in 2017. Valerie worked as a journalist in London at Condé Nast and the Daily Mail before her marriage to the writer Thomas Pakenham. Her most recent book is, 'The Big House in Ireland', an anthology published in 2001. She has lived in Westmeath, fourteen miles from Maria Edgeworth’s old family home in Edgeworthstown, for over fifty years and is familiar with many of the places described in the letters. The Pakenham and Edgeworth families intermarried in the early eighteenth century and were close friends across several generations.

Exclusive offer to RDS Members:

RDS Members who book for this talk and attend, will be entered in a free draw with a chance to win a signed copy of Valerie’s book, 'Maria Edgeworth’s Letters From Ireland'. The draw will take place after the talk on April 25.

The above talk is admission free but prior booking is essential.

Voluntary donations by attendees to assist in covering costs are welcomed.

'Dublin: One City One Book' programme for April:


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