Mitford, Mary Russell

Mitford, Mary Russell

▪ British writer
born Dec. 16, 1787, Alresford, Hampshire, Eng.
died Jan. 10, 1855, Swallowfield, near Reading
 dramatist, poet, and essayist, chiefly remembered for her prose sketches of English village life.

      She was the only daughter of George Mitford, a dashing, irresponsible character whose extravagance compelled the family, in 1820, to leave their house in Reading (built when Mary, at the age of 10, won £20,000 in a lottery) for a labourer's cottage in the nearby village of Three Mile Cross. Thereafter, until his death in 1842, his daughter struggled to provide for him and to pay his gambling debts out of her literary earnings.

      In 1810 she published Miscellaneous Poems, which was followed by five more volumes of verse, including Watlington Hill (1812) and Dramatic Scenes, Sonnets, and Other Poems (1827). Her narrative poem Christina (1811) was revised by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. She then turned to the theatre, with some success, most notably in the blank-verse tragedies Julian (1823) and Rienzi, the latter of which had 34 performances at London's Drury Lane in 1828.

      Her reputation, however, rests on the sketches, started in The Ladies Magazine (1819), that fill the five volumes of Our Village (1824–32). Based on her observation of life in and around Three Mile Cross, they catch the pleasant atmosphere of the English countryside and the quaintness of village characters. She published a further volume of sketches, Belford Regis, in 1835 and her Recollections of a Literary Life in 1852. Her work helped to establish the format of the realistic domestic novel of provincial life.

Additional Reading
Vera Watson, Mary Russell Mitford (1949); Marjorie Astin, Mary Russell Mitford, Her Circle and Her Books (1930).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • MITFORD, MARY RUSSELL —    authoress, born at Alresford, Hants, lived with her father, an extravagant physician, at Lyme Regis and London; she published poems in 1810 11 12, but, forced to earn a living, took to dramatic work; Julian, The Foscari, and Rienzi were… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Mitford, Mary Russell — (1787 1855)    Poetess and novelist, b. at Alresford, Hants, dau. of a physician, without practice, selfish and extravagant, who ran through three fortunes, his own, his wife s, and his daughter s, and then lived on the industry of the last.… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Mary Russell Mitford — For other people named Mary Russell, see Mary Russell (disambiguation). Mary Russell Mitford, after Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1824 Mary Russell Mitford (16 December 1787 – 10 January 1855), was an English author and dramatist. She was born at… …   Wikipedia

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  • Mitford [2] — Mitford (spr. mittförd), Miß Mary Russell, engl. Dichterin, geb. 16. Dez. 1787 zu Alresford in Hampshire, gest. 10. Jan. 1855 in Smallowfield, trat zuerst mit erzählenden Dichtungen im Stil W. Scotts auf und erwarb sich einen geachteten Namen… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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