Blessington, Margaret Gardiner, countess of

WRITER, SOCIETY PERSONALITY (IRELAND)
BORN 1 Sep 1789, Knockbrit (near Clonmel), County Tipperary - DIED 4 Jun 1849, Paris: Rue de Cercle
REAL NAME Power, Margaret
GRAVE LOCATION Chambourcy, Yvelines (near St. Germain-en-Laye): Cimetière (mausoleum at the edge of the cemetery)

Margaret Power came from a poor family and was married to a Captain Maurice Saint Leger Farmer when she was 15. He was a violent man and before long she was home again. During a party he fell from a window ledge and died. By that time she had left Ireland for London and in 1818 she married Charles John Gardiner, earl of Blessington in 1818. They lived in an extravagant way and he was heavily indebted.

In 1822 they left for Italy and in Genoa she met Lord Byron. She expected a cold and distant person, but he was amiable enough. This initially disappointed her a little, but soon they became good friends.

In Rome she met Madame Laetitia Bonaparte, Napoleon's mother. They lived in Italy and in Paris until her husband died and she went to live in Gore House, Kensington. She started writing novels and her soirees were visited by Dickens and Bulwer-Lytton.

In 1833 she many she lost many of her belongings during a burglary and in 1849 she was forced to sell the contents of Gore House (her home) to clear her debts and she joint Alfred d'Orsay, who was bankrupt and had fled to Paris. Before she heard that the sale of her belongings had left her a surplus she died of a heart attack in Paris.

Apart from novels she also published several memoirs, among them "Conversations with Lord Byron" (serial in 1832, book in 1834).

Work: "The Magic Lantern" (1822); "Meredyth" (1833, novel); "The Memoires of a Femme de Chambre" (1846, novel).

Related persons
• has a connection with Byron, George Noel Gordon
• was visited by Dickens, Charles John Huffham
• was a friend of Napoleon III Bonaparte, Empereur des Français

Sources
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
• Todd, Janet (ed.), Dictionary of British Woman Writers, Routledge, London, 1989
• Stephen, Leslie [Sir], Sidney Lee [Sir] [Editors], The Dictionary of National Biography, From the Earliest Times to 1900, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1960
Title unknown
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Bligh, William

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 12 Nov 2006