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Regina Maria Roche and Ireland: A Problematic Relationship

by Begoña Lasa Álvarez

The Irish writer Regina Maria Roche (1764-1845) is one of the best representatives of the popular novelists of the late eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth century. Among her most renowned novels there can be mentioned The Children of the Abbey (1798) and Clermont (1798), both of them great successes of the Minerva Press in London. During her lifetime she gave to light twelve more novels and two novellas, which covered diverse topics, but always trying to keep to the most fashionable trends of the period.

Very little is known about Roche’s life, however, one of the few data which has reached us about her is that she might have undergone financial difficulties since she had to ask for support to the Royal Literary Fund. In our opinion, this fact meant that she wrote for bread, like many other women writers before her, such as Aphra Behn and Frances Sheridan, or contemporaries to her, such as Charlotte Smith and Mary Wollstonecraft. The obvious consequence is that Regina Maria Roche dealt with the most popular topics of her time in order to gain publishers’ attention and subsequently, readers’ affection. Taking this priority into account, some of the most significant novels of the Irish novelist will be analysed, paying special attention to the role her homeland plays in them. As the title of the paper maintains, Regina Maria Roche had a complex and problematic relationship with Ireland, at least with respect to her literary works: if in her first novels her country is a mere background for the plot, in the narratives she wrote in the 1820s Ireland and its current problems are a central issue.

AsK, September 2012

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