Unmasking Mrs Markham, the most successful historian of Austen’s Age

Professor Matthew Grenby, Newcastle University
Event date
Event time
13:00 - 13:45
The Weston Library
Broad Street
Venue details

The Weston lecture theatre, Blackwell Hall, main entrance on Broad Street

Event type
Lectures and seminars
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Disabled access?
Booking required

Born around 1779, Elizabeth Cartwright had a famous name. Her father Edmund invented the steam power loom; her uncle John, was a prominent political reformer. But it was not as a Cartwright, nor under her married name Penrose, that she achieved fame, but as ‘Mrs Markham’, author of a series of best-selling history textbooks. The most successful of these was A History of England from the First Invasion by the Romans to the End of the Reign of George III (1823), in print throughout the nineteenth century, and still so well-known in the twentieth that (just as Jane Austen satirised Oliver Goldsmith’s History of England in 1771), in 1926, it was Mrs Markham’s book that Hilaire Belloc chose to parody. This talk will explore who ‘Mrs Markham’ was and assess her writing to see what made it so popular. But it will also draw on her correspondence with John Murray to investigate the extent to which women writers were able to negotiate with their publishers, and steer their own literary careers.