Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Most Gorgeous Lady Blessington


The title of a biography on novelist Margaret Power by J. Fitzgerald Molloy says much about its subject. 
Chapter I begins: ‘…MORE than a century has passed since a child was born into the world whose 
strange and changeful career, from its bitter beginning even to its close, could count as experiences,
reversals of fortune, phases of mystery, infelicity of marriage, and the passion of love, these rich
elements of romance that lend fascination to reality. This child, born on the first day of September,
1789, at Knockbrit, near Clonmel, in the county of Tipperary, in Ireland, was christened
 Margaret Power…’
 
Early pages of Molloy’s biography discuss her role in literary society, including a quote from Walter Scott:
 
 ‘…William Jerdan was then an author of repute, having published a number of novels, and was,
moreover, editor of The Literary Gazette, a journal whose praise or blame made or marred a book,
so great was its influence in literary circles. Witty and wise by turns, he was always warmly welcomed
by his hostess, and became her frequent guest.  "The more I saw and knew of her," he wrote 
years later, " the more I loved her kind and generous nature, her disposition to be good to all,
her faithful energy to serve her friends. Full of fine taste, intelligence, and imagination, she was
indeed a lovable woman ; and by a wide circle she was regarded as the centre of a highly
intellectual and brilliant society." 
 
John Gait, a native of Ayrshire, who has been described as being as wise as a sage and as simple
as a child, equally shrewd and credulous, as eminently practical as he was fancifully imaginative,
was likewise her devoted friend. He had begun his career in commerce, but, launching into poetry
had produced tragedies which were pronounced by Sir Walter Scott "the worst ever seen." 
He had travelled, and had become acquainted with Lord Byron, of whom he delighted to talk…’

Lady Blessington herself met Scott’s friend Lord Byron, a connection which led to her publish her best known work “Conversations with Lord Byron”.

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