The New International Encyclopædia/Morgan, Lady

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MORGAN, Lady (Sydney Owenson) (?1783-1859). A novelist, daughter of Robert Owenson, a theatrical manager, and of his wife, Jane Mill. She was born in Dublin, on Christmas Day, 1781, if we are to believe her. Croker mischievously alleged that she was born on the Dublin packet in 1775. For a while she mingled with theatrical people, or with the variegated society frequented by her father in Dublin. Her father's affairs becoming involved, the clever girl resolved to support the family, first as governess and then as author. In 1812 she married Thomas Charles Morgan, a distinguished surgeon, who was knighted on the occasion. Though the Morgans lived for the most part in Dublin, they made two Continental tours, and often visited London, where they settled in 1839. For her services to literature a Government pension was granted to Lady Morgan in 1837. She died April 14, 1859. Throughout her life Lady Morgan was widely known in society for her wit and her affectations. Her works, comprising novels, comic operas, travels, and biographies, were savagely attacked by the reviewers, but they brought her about £25,000. They were indeed ephemeral. Among her novels are: Saint Clair, or the Heiress of Desmond (1804), a sorry imitation of Goethe's Sorrows of Werther; The Wild Irish Girl, a silly rhapsodical book not without descriptive power (1806); Florence M'Carthy (1816); and The O'Briens and the O'Flaherties (1827). Of her travels, France (1817) was much read and criticised. Her main right to consideration is that she wrote English words for Irish melodies, an example soon followed to their great advantage by Thomas Moore and Stevenson. Consult: Fitzpatrick, Lady Morgan (London, 1860), and Memoirs of Lady Morgan (an autobiography), edited by Dixon (London, 1862).