Showing posts from May, 2020

Madwoman in the Attic #12 Laetitia Pilkington

Laetitia Pilkington was born Laetitia Van Lewen in Dublin in 1709, the daughter of John Van Lewen who became president of the College of Physicians. She married a Church of Ireland priest Matthew Pilkington and through him was introduced to Jonathan Swift. Swift was a good friend to them and encouraged both of them in their writing of poetry. He also secured a position for Matthew as chaplain to the Lord Mayor of London. Laetitia arrived in London after her husband had settled and found him caught up in a affair with a Drury Lane actress. She quickly became mixed up in literary circles including the noted wit and libertine James Worsdale and the satirist Henry Carey. When her husband was arrested in a political scandal they returned to Ireland. The following year it was Laetitia who was caught up in a scandal. Matthew found her alone in her bedroom with Robert Adair; a surgeon and the Pilkington's divorce was acrimonious and costly, reducing Laetitia to poverty.  She lost all stan…

Madwoman in the Attic #11 Anna Doyle Wheeler

Born in Clonbeg, Co. Tipperary in 1785, daughter of a Protestant Archbishop, Anna Doyle was educated at home and married at sixteen. Her marriage to Francis Massey Wheeler was unhappy and she left after twelve years, taking her two surviving children; Rosina and Harriet. Anna had taken refuge in reading during her marriage, she studied many French Philosophers and Mary Wollstonecraft's feminist works. After moving to London she became part of a circle of writers and philosophers including Robert Owen, John Stuart Mill and Frances Wright. Anna sent her daughter Rosina to be educated at Mrs Rowden's school in Kensington. Anna moved to France in the 1820s where she met Charles Fourier and began to translate his works into English. She becomes a contributor to Tribune de Femme a journal established by working class women. She also collaborated with William Thompson on his book Appeal of One Half of the Human Race (1825)she also wrote The Rights of Women (1830)and Letter from Vlast…

Madwoman in the Attic #10 Rosina Bulwer Lyttton

Rosina Bulwer Lytton was born Rosina Doyle Wheeler on November 4th 1802 in Co Limerick. Her mother Anna Doyle Wheeler was a writer and an advocate of women's rights who married Francis Massey Wheeler when she was just sixteen. The marriage was unhappy. Wheeler was an abusive alcoholic and  his wife defied convention by leaving him. She took ten year old Rosina and her sister Henrietta to Guernsey where her uncle General Sir John Doyle was Lieutenant Governor. She later moved to London to further the girls' education. Rosina spent some time at The renowned Mrs Rowden's school for young ladies in Kensington. Other famous students of Mrs Rowden were Lady Caroline Lamb, the poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.), Emma Roberts and Anna Maria Fielding. 
Rosina married Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1827, despite his parents objections. His parents stopped his allowance and the subsequent financial pressure caused substantial strain on the marriage. They separated in 1836 and although Ro…