Desmond – A Novel in Two Volumes.
First Irish Edition. Two Volumes (complete set). Dublin, Printed for P.Wogan, P.Byrne, J.Moore, J.Rice, W. McKenzie, H.Colbert, G. Folingsby etc. etc., 1792. Small-Octavo (11 cm x 17 cm). VII, 276, 306 pages. Hardcover / Original 18th-century leather with original spinelabels. Both Volumes in protective Mylar and now housed in a bespoke Solander Box. Bindings rubbed with loss to labels. Bookplate / Exlibris of Richard Meade of Ballymartle attached to pastedown of Volume I.
Desmond is an epistolary novel by Charlotte Smith, first published in 1792. The novel focuses on politics during the French Revolution.
Unlike her previous and subsequent novels, Smith used Desmond to introduce her audiences to contemporary politics. While critics initially supported this element of Desmond, the radicalism of the French Revolution and the “conservative mood among her audience” prompted Smith to “tone down” the political references in her novels.
Charlotte Smith (4 May 1749 – 28 October 1806), an English novelist and a Romantic poet, prompted a revival of the English sonnet, helped to set conventions for Gothic fiction and wrote political novels of sensibility. She wrote ten novels, three poetry books, four children’s books and other work, but saw herself mainly as a poet, working in the prime literary form of the day. Scholars credit her with turning the sonnet into an expression of woeful sentiment. She left her husband and began writing to support their children. Her struggles and vain efforts to gain legal protection as a woman gave themes for her poetry and novels outlined in her prefaces. Her early novels show aesthetic development in the Gothic and sentimentality. Later ones such as The Old Manor House, often seen as her best, praised the ideals of the French Revolution. Waning interest left her destitute by 1803. Barely able to hold a pen, she sold her book rights to pay debts and died in 1806. Largely forgotten by the mid-19th century, she has since been seen as a major Romantic writer.