Vol. 11: Maguire, W. A.

Type: Article

Maguire, W. A. ‘Castle Nugent and Castle Rackrent: fact and fiction in Maria Edgeworth’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 11 (1996), pp 146-159..

An obituary printed in the August 1789 issue of Gentleman’s Magazine on the death of Elizabeth Malyn, Lady Cathcart, reveals that her husband, Colonel Hugh Maguire, held her captive for perhaps a dozen years in one of their homes in Ireland. A few years after this publication, Maria Edgeworth began work on Castle Rackrent, a work in which there is (as Edgeworth explains in a footnote) a fictional account of the real life ordeal of Lady Cathcart. This article discusses the similarities that exist between the historical truths of Lady Cathcart’s captivity and the events devised by Edgeworth. Maguire considers “to what extent a novel such as Castle Rackrent, which purports to represent an age already past, is true to history — as distinct from true to life”.