Edited by Harriet Kramer Linkin


This annotated edition provides a revelatory glimpse into the life and mind of Ireland’s premier Romantic-era woman poet, Mary Blachford Tighe (1772-1810), author of Psyche, Verses, and Selena. Although Tighe’s family burned most of her personal papers, 166 letters by and to her survived the flames, and are printed here for the first time. They offer rich insights into her thoughts and feelings about her writing, marriage, friendships, family, anxieties, aspirations, spirituality, politics, travels, and day-to-day activities, with beauty, poignance and wit. The letters written between 1786 and 1801 reveal stunning details about her complex relationship with her voyeuristic husband, about the years she spent in England developing her craft as a writer and acquiring her reputation as a much-admired beauty, and about the lived realities that ground the proto-feminist aesthetics of Psyche, the lyrics in Verses, and the narratives in Selena. The letters from 1802 through 1809 contain exceptional information about her reading habits and scholarly studies, resistance to publication, and friendships with other writers. The Collected Letters of Mary Blachford Tighe presents a rich archive of material that open up significant avenues for scholarship on Tighe: they document how actively she participated in her culture, shed autobiographical light on some of the least-known periods in her life, and illuminate her development as a poet and novelist. 




This edition assembles for the first time in print the letters of Mary Tighe, Ireland’s best known and most influential Romantic-era woman poet. With Linkin’s skillful and comprehensive annotations, the letters open new horizons on Tighe’s extraordinary life and work by drawing us into the poet’s extensive social, political, and artistic milieu. This edition is unquestionably the definitive resource for Tighe’s correspondence. It will be of foundational importance for scholarship on Tighe, for Irish studies generally, and for the continuing reconsideration of the nature and scope of Romanticism in the British Isles.

— Stephen Behrendt, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English, University of Nebraska

With a detailed introduction, extensive annotation, biographical portraits and a bibliography, The Collected Letters of Mary Blachford Tighe gathers for the first time the correspondence of one of Ireland's most distinguished Romantic writers. Comprising more than 160 letters, Harriet Kramer Linkin's superb new edition opens new perspectives on Tighe's life, her authorial career, patterns of composition, and psychological development as the author of Psyche and Selena. This volume forms a fascinating and authoritative archive of historical records for all scholars of Romantic literature and culture, and is sure to enhance understanding of this extraordinary, influential, yet elusive writer.

— Nicholas Roe, Bishop Wardlaw Professor of English Literature, The University of St Andrews, Scotland

In this scrupulously edited and carefully annotated collection of over 150 letters, Harriet Kramer Linkin brings to life the world of Irish author Mary Tighe. These letters reveal an intimate and often playful network of family, friends, and fellow writers in the two decades before the Regency. Tighe could be frank in her letters about difficult topics, from managing a dangerously intoxicated friend to fending off sexual harassment or describing the grisly details of political unrest. She also sighs for the creature comforts of clean sheets and a pile of books, as well as over a very attractive waiter. This volume will be invaluable to those interested in Tighe’s literary works but also provides a remarkably unfiltered view of her historical moment.

— Julia M. Wright, Professor of English & Dalhousie University Research Professor, Dalhousie University