Important acquisitions

Munster village, a novel.

Author Walker, Mary, Lady
Title Munster village, a novel.
Imprint London: Robson & Co.,
Date of Publication 1778
Language English
Notes "Munster Village" is the best known work of one of Scotland's earliest female novelists. This is a copy of the very rare first edition; only one other copy is recorded in the UK. The author, Lady Mary Walker (1736-1822), was born in Fife, the youngest child of the fifth Earl of Leven. She married an Edinburgh-based physician, Dr James Walker, in 1762, but the marriage seems to have broken down after a few years; in later life she said she was forced to turn to writing to clothe, feed and educate her children. Between 1775 and 1782 she wrote four works in English, three of which were published. "Munster Village" was her best-received novel. In it, the idealistic young heroine, Lady Frances, the daughter of Lord Munster, refuses offers of marriage until she has founded a utopian village. Her village contains libraries, a botanical garden and an academy for scholars, with places reserved for young women as well as men. The didactic and mildly feminist tone of the novel - Mary Walker was a firm believer in a woman's right to an education and in intellectual equality in marriage - was in keeping with her other surviving works. In the 1780s Mary Walker moved to France with a new partner, George Hamilton, a landowner with an estate in Jamaica. It is not clear whether she actually married him, but she did have two children by him. While living in France Mary arranged for a French translation of "Munster Village" to be made, and she also published a novel in French, "La famille du duc de Popoli". Walker's works now seem very dated to the modern reader, but she does appear to have influenced two rather more successful female novelists of this era. Jane Austen borrowed from "Munster Village" the names of 'Eliza', 'Bennett', and 'Bingley' for "Pride and Prejudice". Similarly, Ann Radcliffe seems to have borrowed the name of the 'Marquis de Villeroi' for "The Mysteries of Udolpho" (1794) as well as certain character types, plot devices, and thematic concerns.
Shelfmark RB.s.2780-2781
Reference Sources Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 07/05/10
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