Thady Quirk, devoted steward to the decaying estate of the Rackrent family, narrates a riotous story of four generations of a dying dynasty in Castle Rackrent (1800). Thady will defend his masters to the end, but eventually his naivety and blind loyalty cause him to ignore the warning signs as the family's excesses lead them to ruin. This volume also includes Ennui, the entertaining 'confessions' of the Earl of Glenthorn, a bored, spoiled aristocrat. Desperate to be free from 'the demon of ennui', Glenthorn's quest for happiness takes him through violence and revolution, and leads to intriguing twists of fate. Both novels offer a darkly comic and satirical expose of the Irish class system, and a portrait of a nation in turmoil.
MARIA EDGEWORTH was born in 1768. Her first novel, Castle Rackrent (1800) was also her first Irish tale. The next such tale was Ennui (1809), after which came The Absentee, which began life as an unstaged play and was then published (in prose) in Tales of Fashionable Life (1812), as were several of her other stories. They were followed in 1817 by the last of her Irish tales, Ormond. Maria Edgeworth died in 1849. Edited with an introduction and notes by Marilyn Butler