Maria Edgeworth

1768 (Black Bourton, England) – 1849 (Edgeworthstown, Ireland)

A novelist and lively-minded intellectual, Edgeworth explored ideas of nationality, gender and education. Her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth was an influence, collaborator and interferer. His friend Day encouraged her autonomy, but nearly blinded her. She travelled extensively, particularly enjoying Prony’s and Cuvier’s conversation in Paris, and the company of Arago, Pictet, de Candolle, Dumont and the wild-haired Pestalozzi in Switzerland. Scott and Somerville were good friends (reading her work gave Scott fresh impetus with his own), while Herschel, Barbauld, Leadbeater and Brewster all corresponded. Darwin impressed her, Bentham and Ricardo admired her, Byron however was underwhelmed.