Mary Letitia Martin

Last updated

Mary Letitia Martin (1815–1850) was an Irish writer who was known as the "Princess of Connemara". Educated at home in the upper-class style, she was fluent in numerous languages. She published two books in her lifetime, and a third was published posthumously.


After losing her fortune during the Great Famine, Martin and her husband went to Belgium for a time, where she contributed to periodicals. They sailed to America in 1850, but Martin died 10 days after arrival due to complications of premature childbirth.


Martin was born into the chief landowning family of Connemara, the Martins of Ballynahinch Castle, a branch of the Martyn Tribe of Galway. Her parents were Thomas Barnwall Martin and Julia Kirwin; her paternal grandfather was Richard Martin MP (1754–1834). [1]

Educated at home and by herself, Martin became fluent in Irish, English, French and a number of other languages. According to Maria Edgeworth, who had met her during her tour of Connemara in 1833, she was courted in 1834 by Count Adolphe de Werdinsky, whom she had met in London earlier that year. She refused to marry and de Werdinsky feigned a suicide attempt at Ballynahinch.

Martin published her first novel, St. Etienne, a Tale of the Vendean War, in 1845.

In 1847, she married a cousin, Colonel Arthur Gonne Bell. He took the name of Martin on marriage, by Royal Licence. In the same year, her father died of famine fever contracted while visiting his tenants in the Clifden workhouse.


On the death of her father, Martin inherited a heavily encumbered estate of 200,000 acres (810 km2). In the following two years, her remaining fortune was destroyed in the famine as she attempted to alleviate its effects on her tenants. Penniless, she emigrated with her husband to Belgium. There she contributed to a number of periodicals, notably Encyclopaedie Des Gens Du Monde. [1]

USA and death

In 1850, her autobiographical novel, Julia Howard, was published. That same year, the Martins sailed for America. She died ten days after arriving in New York City, following giving birth prematurely on board ship. The baby died, too. Her husband returned to England. He arranged for the posthumous publication of her novel, Deed, not Words (1857). In 1883, he was killed in a railway accident.

Select bibliography

See also


Related Research Articles

Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth was a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults' and children's literature. She was one of the first realist writers in children's literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe. She held views on estate management, politics and education, and corresponded with some of the leading literary and economic writers, including Sir Walter Scott and David Ricardo.

County Galway County in Ireland

County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is in the West of Ireland, taking up the south of the province of Connacht.

Richard Martin (Irish politician) Irish politician and activist

Colonel Richard Martin, was an Irish politician and campaigner against cruelty to animals. He was known as "Humanity Dick", a nickname bestowed on him by King George IV. He succeeded in getting the pioneering Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822, nicknamed 'Martin's Act', passed into British law.

Martyn, or Martin is the surname of one of The Tribes of Galway, Ireland.

Connemara Cultural region in County Galway, Ireland

Connemara is a cultural region in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. The area has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains a major part of the Connacht Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region and is the largest Gaeltacht in the country.

Violet Florence Martin

Violet Florence Martin was an Irish author who co-wrote a series of novels with cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Thomas Barnwall Martin was an Irish landowner and politician.

Mary Anne Sadlier was an Irish author. Sadlier published roughly twenty-three novels and numerous stories. She wrote for Irish immigrants in both the United States and Canada, encouraging them to attend mass and retain the Catholic faith. In so doing, Sadlier also addressed the related themes of anti-Catholicism, the Irish Famine, emigration, and domestic work. Her writings and translations are often found under the name Mrs. J. Sadlier. Earlier in her career, from 1840 to 1845, some of her works were published under the name "Anne Flinders".

Events from the year 1849 in the United Kingdom.

William Henry Gregory

Sir William Henry Gregory PC (Ire) KCMG was an Anglo-Irish writer and politician, who is now less remembered than his wife Augusta, Lady Gregory, the playwright, co-founder and Director of Dublin's Abbey Theatre, literary hostess and folklorist.

Mother Mary Bonaventure Browne was a Poor Clare nun, abbess, and Irish historian.

Eamonn Laidir Ó Flaithbertaigh was an Irish Jacobite.

Maria Gabriel Martyn (1604–1672) was Abbess of the Poor Clares of Galway.

Teige Ó Flaithbheartaigh was an Irish rebel and warlord.

Harriet Letitia Martin was a 19th-century Irish novelist.

Clifden Castle

Clifden Castle is a ruined manor house west of the town of Clifden in the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. It was built c. 1818 for John D'Arcy, the local landowner, in the Gothic Revival style. Uninhabited after 1894 it fell into disrepair. In 1935, ownership passed to a group of tenants, who were to own it jointly, and it quickly became a ruin.

Nehemias Folan (1555–?) Irish Brehon.

Shevawn Lynam was an Irish novelist and journalist. She was the Spanish language specialist with the BBC and Ministry of Information during World War II.

Mariquita Tennant

Mariquita Dorotea Francesca Tennant born Mariquita Dorotea Francesca Eroles was a Spanish born social reformer. She opened her house and started to help abused women around Windsor in the UK.

<i>The Real Charlotte</i>

The Real Charlotte is an 1894 novel by the Anglo-Irish writing partnership Somerville and Ross, composed of Edith Somerville (1858–1949) and Violet Florence Martin (1862–1915).