Novel 090: Mrs. S.C. Hall, Marian (1840)

George Frederick Watts, Charity

George Frederick Watts, Charity


A girl of gentle birth is raised as a foundling in London by a selfish lady and a loving nurse.

Anna Maria Fielding (1800-1881), born and raised in Dublin, moved to London as a teenager and in 1824 married journalist and editor S.C. Hall.  She wrote stories, plays, and half a dozen novels.  The Irish nurse here, though something of an ethnic caricature, is justly praised by the critics .

“Her sketches of character are lifelike; her events probable; and the dramatis personae, necessary to the progress and dénoûement of the plot, brought together with perfect ease.” Literary Gazette, January 18, 1840

“The Irish Nurse, who may be said to be the real heroine” has “a depth both of humour and of sentiment, a richness of colouring, a truth and purity of design, which will command for it a place among the very highest conceptions of this kind that our literature boasts.” New Monthly Magazine, February, 1840

“This is a simple story, yet it affords room for amusing, touching, and striking incidents; and among the persons of the drama there are several characters drawn with a firm and powerful hand. . . .   The gem of the novel is Katty Macane, the poor Irish nurse,—a character than which, whether considered in its conception or execution, we know nothing more admirable of its kind in Scott or Edgeworth.  We cannot praise it too highly, for we have hardly ever received greater delight from a creation of fancy.” Spectator, February 1, 1840

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