The letters of Katherine Conolly, 1707–1747



During her long life of ninety years, Katherine Conolly née Conyngham (1662–1752), the chatelaine of Castletown House, maintained a lively and active correspondence. As the wife of the leading and wealthiest Irish politician of the day — William Conolly — she can be said to have lived a life of particular privilege. She was certainly able to afford the best, but her c. 290 surviving letters are important for what they tell us of family and daily life among the anglophone elite in Ireland in the eighteenth-century. Katherine was the commanding presence in a large and complex cousinhood. She had favourites and enemies, family members she supported through thick and thin, and others that looked to her only as a source of largesse. Despite all, she maintained her dignity, poise and position. She was a woman of strong character as well as strong prejudices, and her likes and dislikes — chronicled in detail in her marvellous letters to her sister, Jane Bonnell, which form the largest component of this edition — provide a wonderful vista onto life as it was lived in the eighteenth century. Indeed, there is hardly an aspect of that world that is left untouched, and that is not amplified by this edition.

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Edited by

Marie-Louise Jennings & Gabrielle M. Ashford




xxx + 324



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