Blessington, Margaret Gardiner, countess of

BORN 1 Sep 1789, Knockbrit (near Clonmel), County Tipperary - DIED 4 Jun 1849, Paris: Rue de Cercle
BIRTH NAME Power, Margaret
GRAVE LOCATION Chambourcy (near St. Germain-en-Laye), Yvelines: Cimetière, Chemin de Jeu de Boules (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 a friend of Craven, Keppel Richard
• was visited by Dickens, Charles
• was a friend of Napoleon III Bonaparte

31/1/1823Lady Blessington arrives in Genoa. She was accompanied by Lord Blessington and their friend the Comte d'Orsay. The next day she wanted to visit the famous Lord Byron, who lived in Genoa at the time. Because of many wild rumours in England she expected him to be a wild and sinister poet. But she was also afraid that he was fat. [Byron, George Noel Gordon ]
1/4/1823The Blessingtons visit Lord Byron in Genoa. The ydrove to Byron's Casa Saluzzo, on a hill near Genoa. When he appeared after a while Lady Blessington was disappointed. He was no sinister figure, but a slim and friendly guy. They saw each other a few more times and she used them for her book "Conversations With Lord Byron". Byron's lover Teresa suffered several fits of jealousy because of these visits. [Byron, George Noel Gordon ]
20/6/1848Teresa Gamba writes Lady Blessington about Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. She was now Marquise de Bloissy and she wrote that Louis Napoleon's party was now very strong and especially in the country the name of Bonaparte had an enormous prestige. The fact that the communists supported him made the 'honest folk' a bit conspicious. She stated that he would be welcome if he could save 'this poor France'. [Napoleon III Bonaparte]

• Stephen, Leslie [Sir], Sidney Lee [Sir] [Editors], The Dictionary of National Biography, From the Earliest Times to 1900, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1960
• Ridley, Jasper, Napoleon III and Eugénie, Constable, London, 1979
• Sadleir, Michael, Blessington-D'Orsay, A Masquerade, Constable, London, 1933
• Todd, Janet (ed.), Dictionary of British Woman Writers, Routledge, London, 1989
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909

Bligh, William

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 12 Nov 2006