Advertisement

The “Cool Medium” of Sydney Owenson’s The Lay of an Irish Harp

  • Terence Allan Hoagwood
Part of the Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters book series (19CMLL)

Abstract

Lady Morgan may have been the first Anglo-Irish writer to espouse Irish nationalism,2 but considerable evidence indicates that her literary ambition and appeal were much more Anglo than Irish. She achieved great fame with her popular novel The Wild Irish Girl (published in London in 1806), and in London she impersonated that book’s heroine, Glorvina, at parties of the English aristocracy.3 She purchased a faux Irish harp (it was small and painted green), and played it at the parties of the English nobility; a schematic image of an Irish harp appears in Owenson’s frontispiece in 1807 (see figure 2; for a more detailed image made in Owenson’s lifetime, see figure. 3). In her Memoirs, Lady Morgan writes that she also danced at the Vice-regal Lodge for the amusement of the Duchess of Northumberland.4 In 1807 the Duke and Duchess of Bedford attended a performance of her operetta The First Attempt, the Duchess wearing a Glorvina bodkin, which was a commercial trinket sold as part of the marketing plan for The Wild- Irish Girl5 For commercial reasons she played (in Mary Campbell’s words) “the living incarnation of one country for the entertainment of the other”(1). Leith Davis has recently stated the point trenchantly: “Owenson’s reliance on Irishness as costume and as performance… merged into representations of Irishness as a commodity, as Owenson, her book, and her paraphernalia became consumer items on English markets.”6

Keywords

Cool Medium Sensitive Plant Personal Feeling English Market Marketing Project 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Mary Campbell, Lady Morgan: The Life and Times of Sydney Owenson (London: Pandora, 1988), xi.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Lady Morgan [Sydney Owenson], The Book of the Boudoir, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn, 1829Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    George Paston [pseudonym of Emily Morse Symonds], Little Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century (London: Grant Richards; New York: E. P. Dutton, 1902), 119.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Davis, Music, Postcolonialism, and Gender (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 139.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Jacqueline Belanger, Critical Receptions: Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan (Bethesda, MD: Academica Press, 2007), 18.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Lady Morgan, Florence Macarthy (1818; rpt. London: Henry Colburn, 1839), 332–33.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Ian Dennis writes that “Gaelic accessories and a Wild Irish Look helped create the disposable identity of the moment, a commodified romantic femininity with a Celtic Twilight flavour” [Nationalism and Desire in Early Historical Fiction (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), 49].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 17.
    Stevenson, the Wild Irish Girl: The Life of Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan (1776–1859 (London: Chapman and Hall, 1936), 298–9.Google Scholar
  9. 29.
    William John Fitzpatrick, The Friends, Foes, and Adventures of Lady Morgan (Dublin: W. B. Kelly, 1859), 6.Google Scholar
  10. 33.
    On the eighteenth-and early-nineteenth-century literature of sentiment and sensibility, see Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (New York: Methuen, 1986)Google Scholar
  11. G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992)Google Scholar
  12. Jerome McGann, The Poetics of Sensibility (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  13. 40.
    The lyrics for “Ned of the Hill” are reprinted in the Lyrics Database <http://www.lyricsdatabase.gen.tr/391351/Edmund_Of_The_Hill_Ned_Of_The_Hill.html>; see also Donal O’Sullivan, Songs of the Irish: An Anthology of Irish Polk Music und Poetry with English Verse Translations (1960; rpt. Cork: Mercier Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  14. 45.
    Hemans, “The Spanish Lady”, The Literary Souvenir; or, Cabinet of Poetry and Romance, ed. Alaric A. Watts (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green; and John Andrews, 1827), 120.Google Scholar
  15. 46.
    Keats, “Ode to Psyche”, Complete Poems, ed. Stillinger (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 277.Google Scholar
  16. 49.
    Pope, Eloisa to Abelard, in The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq., in Verse and Prose. With a Selection of Explanatory Notes and the Account of His Life by Dr. Johnson, 8 vols. (London: Nichols and Son; F. C. and J. Rivington... and J. Johnson, 1812), 2: 276Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Terence Allan Hoagwood 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence Allan Hoagwood

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations