Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brooke, Charlotte

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BROOKE, CHARLOTTE (d. 1793), authoress, was one of the youngest of the numerous offspring of Henry Brooke, the author of the 'Fool of Quality' [q. v.], and designated herself 'the child of his old age.' She was educated entirely by him, and applied assiduously to literature, art, and music, in all of which she acquired high proficiency. During her father's life her time was mainly devoted to him. Among the subjects of her study was the Irish language, and the first of her productions which appeared in print was an anonymous translation of a poem ascribed to Carolan, in 'Historical Memoirs of Irish Bards,' published in 1786. Soon after the death of her father Miss Brooke was nearly reduced to indigence through the loss of money invested in the manufactory for cotton established by her cousin, Captain Robert Brooke [q. v.] An unsuccessful effort was made by some members of the then newly established Royal Irish Academy at Dublin to obtain a position for her. Her letters to Bishop Percy on this are in Nichols's 'Illustrations' (viii. 247-52). Miss Brooke, in 1789, published at Dublin, by subscription, a quarto volume entitled 'Reliques of Irish Poetry; consisting of heroic poems, odes, elegies, and songs, translated into English verse, with notes explanatory and historical, and the originals in the Irish character.' In this she included 'Thoughts on Irish Song,' and an original composition, styled 'An Irish Tale.' In the publication of this work Miss Brooke was assisted by William Hayley and others; but at the time little accurate knowledge existed of the remains of the more ancient Celtic literature of Ireland. In 1791 Miss Brooke published the 'School for Christians,' consisting of dialogues for the use of children. In the following year she published an edition of some of her father's works, under the circumstances mentioned in the notice of him. Through the subscriptions for that publication and for her 'Reliques of Irish Poetry,' in which many persons of importance interested themselves, Miss Brooke was enabled to retrieve to a small extent the loss of property which she had sustained. A tragedy which she composed, under the title of 'Belisarius,' was submitted to Kemble, and said to have been approved by him, but was eventually reported to have been lost through carelessness. In her latter years Miss Brooke resided at Longford, where she died of malignant fever on 29 March 1793. The publication of a life of Miss Brooke was projected by Joseph C. Walker, who, however, died without having made progress with the work. Some of the papers connected with Miss Brooke came into the possession of Aaron Crossley Seymour, who, in 1816, printed a memoir of her life and writings, mainly emphasising her religious and charitable temper. The 'Reliques of Irish Poetry' by Miss Brooke were republished in octavo at Dublin in 1818.

[Archives of Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; Letter from Mr. [Robert] Brooke, 1786 ; Anthologia Hibernica, 1793-4; Brookiana, 1804; D'Olier's Memoirs of H. Brooke, 1816.]

J. T. G.