Lady Delacour’s Electioneering Rage

Kelly Fleming, Kenyon College
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2023), 35-65

This essay examines Lady Delacour’s electioneering in Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda (1801). Situating Lady Delacour’s political participation in the history of the eighteenth-century electoral system and the settler politics of the Edgeworth family, it suggests that Edgeworth’s first English tale offers a model for women’s limited political participation in response to women’s radical and revolutionary action at the end of the eighteenth century. The essay uses electoral material culture—the cockades and ribbons Lady Delacour wears, distributes, and draws—to spotlight how Edgeworth encouraged landowning women to perform, from a secondary and subordinate position, the electoral work that served the gender and class hierarchies underpinning the political systems across the United Kingdom.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]