Gentry life in Georgian Ireland: the letters of Edmund Spencer (1711-1790)

Hadfield, Andrew and Fraser, Duncan, eds. (2017) Gentry life in Georgian Ireland: the letters of Edmund Spencer (1711-1790). Legenda (General Series) . Legenda, Cambridge. ISBN 9781910887141

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Parental profligacy and the dishonesty of his guardian meant that when Edmund Spencer came of age in 1732 he inherited only a fragment of the estates that his great-great-grandfather, the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser, had amassed in Ireland. To keep himself and his family in a manner appropriate to their status Spencer had to find an income. His plan to publish the collected works of his ancestor foundered on the unrest caused by the 1745 Jacobite rebellion; posts in the army and the revenue proved just as elusive.

In this collection of 120 letters, written to relatives in Wales, we follow his sometimes desperate hunt for preferment in Dublin and elsewhere, making full use of an extended network of patronage which includes, rather surprisingly, a number of Jacobite sympathisers. Along the way he paints a vivid picture of everyday life in eighteenth century rural Ireland, deploring bad harvests, making fun of extravagant spending at elections, dispensing alarming medical advice as well as passing on news about deaths and marriages, and gossip about elopements.

This annotated edition of Spencer’s letters will be of interest to both scholars and general readers eager to learn more about life in Georgian Ireland.

Duncan Fraser is a visiting research fellow and Andrew Hadfield Professor of English, both at the University of Sussex.

Item Type: Edited Book
Keywords: Spencer, Georgian, Ireland, Eighteenth Century
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR3291 17th and 18th centuries (1640-1770)
Depositing User: Andrew Hadfield
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2018 15:05
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2020 08:59
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