The Rockite, an Irish story. By Charlotte Elizabeth.
[ Tonna, Charlotte Elizabeth, née Browne, formerly Mrs. Phelan.]

London: James Nesbit, 1829. First edition. Spine and joints rubbed, lacks label. Some foxing, especially at the beginning and end. But a good copy overall. Contemporary half calf, gilt-ruled spine. Twelvemo. [4], 286 + [2] pp. publi (Item ID: 15790)

$500.00

Charlotte Tonna (1796-1846) was a writer and social reformer and friend of Hannah More. She married an army officer, George Phelan, and accompanied him to his estate in Ireland. She then began publishing religious tracts for the Dublin Tract Society, using the name Charlotte Elizabeth. She also became strongly interested in rights for Irish factory workers and farmers. Her first marriage was unhappy, and she endured physical abuse from her husband. They separated around 1824, at about the time she began to write novels, as well as works for children. The present novel is about the Tithe War of 1821; Captain Rock was a famous leader of the Whiteboys, the secret Irish agrarian organization, during the anti-tithe struggles. The novels she is best known for—Helen Fleetwood and The Wrongs of Woman—came after her second marriage, to Lewis Hippolytus Joseph Tonna, a religious writer twenty years her junior, who encouraged her literary work. Helen Fleetwood (serialized 1839-40) has been credited with influencing the passage of the 1844 Factory Bill, limiting the working day of factory women to twelve hours. Tonna's contributions to social reform literature and her use of the Christian Lady's Magazine as a forum to influence politics through her female readers mark her as a significant nineteenth-century figure, especially for other women social reform writers, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe (who wrote the introduction for her collected works in 1844) and Elizabeth Gaskell” (Oxford DNB).

The work went through a second edition in 1830 and a third in 1836. The 1840s and 1850s saw further editions, both in England and America. The first is uncommon: OCLC lists seventeen copies worldwide, nine in North America.Block, p. 237. See also The Feminist Companion to Literature in English.

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