Castle Rackrent, a short novel by Maria Edgeworth published in 1800, is often regarded as the first historical novel, the first regional novel in English, the first Anglo-Irish novel, the first Big... More > House novel and the first saga novel.
It is also widely regarded as the first novel to use the device of a narrator who is both unreliable and an observer of, rather than a player in, the actions he chronicles. Kirkpatrick suggests that it "both borrows from and originates a variety of literary genres and subgenres without neatly fitting into any one of them". William Butler Yeats pronounced Castle Rackrent "one of the most inspired chronicles written in English".
Shortly before its publication, an introduction, glossary and footnotes, written in the voice of an English narrator, were added to the original text to blunt the negative impact the Edgeworths feared the book might have on English enthusiasm for the Act of Union 1800.< Less
Lord and Lady Clonbrony are more concerned with fashionable London society than with their responsibilities to those who live and work on their Irish estates. Concerned by this negligence, their son,... More > Lord Colambre, goes incognito to Ireland to observe the situation and to discover the truth about the origins of his beloved cousin Grace. Can he find a solution that will bring prosperity and contentment to every level of society, including his own family? Rich in atmosphere and local character, "The Absentee" helped establish the regional' novel form, which influenced such varied writers as Scott, Thackeray and Turgenev. In this sparkling satire on Anglo-Irish relations, Maria Edgeworth created a landmark work of morality and social realism.< Less