1854 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Russell Mitford

Robert Shelton Mackenzie, Note in Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 3:169n.



Of all modern English female writers, Mary Russell Mitford is the most natural, pleasing, and unaffected. She was born in 1786, was educated in London, and removed, with her father, to the vicinity of Reading, at the age of fifteen, where she published several volumes of young-lady poetry between 1810 and 1813. Her father, who was extravagant as well as careless in money-matters, ran through a large inherited fortune (increased by a 20,000 prize in the lottery,) and had to break up their expensive establishment and retire to a small cottage in the village of Three Mile Cross, near Reading. Here she wrote some of the prose sketches which afterward appeared in "Our Village," but, Campbell and others rejecting them, had to put them into the Lady's Magazine. When collected, in 1823, their success was immediate and great. A second series appeared in 1826; a third in 1838; a fourth in 1830; and a fifth in 1832. She published a work called Bedford Regis, in 1835; Country Stories in 1837; Recollections of a Literary Life in 1850; and Atherton and other stories in 1854. She also wrote several dramatic pieces, of which the following have been successful in representation: — The tragedy of Rienzi, at Drury Loane, and the opera of Sadak and Kalesrode, at the English Opera House. Her father died in 1842. She now resides at Swallowfield, in Berkshire.