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Finding Aid for the Sydney Morgan Commonplace Books, [between 1800 and 1810]
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sydney Morgan Commonplace Books
    Date (inclusive): [between 1800 and 1810]
    Collection number: 170/198
    Creator: Morgan, Lady (Sydney), 1783-1859
    Extent: 3 v. (132, 73 with 5 loose papers enclosed, 50 leaves) : paper ; 195 x 170 mm.
    Abstract: Three volumes of commonplace books by Sidney Owenson (aka Sydney Owenson, later known as Lady Morgan). The volumes were filled during the prolific first decade of her writing career.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Processing Note

    Cataloged by Manushag Powell, with assistance from Jain Fletcher and Laurel McPhee in the Center For Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), July 2004.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sydney Morgan Commonplace Books (Collection 170/198). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4230403 


    Lady Morgan, born Sydney Owenson (ca. December 25, 1776-April 16, 1859) was a highly successful though somewhat controversial Anglo-Irish Romantic writer, whose works include historical romances, drama, poetry, travel narrative, history, biography and critical essays. Owenson was distinguished by her ability to use historical romances to critique Anglo-Irish relations and the perils of careless and avaricious imperialism while reviving ethnic pride in Irish culture. The daughter of celebrated Irish actor and nationalist, Robert Owenson, and a Shropshire woman named Jane Hill, Owenson was raised in Dublin. She received a gentlewoman's education and was an avid autodidact as well. After her mother died and her father suffered a series of financial difficulties, Owenson went to work as a governess, and later as a writer, to help support herself and her family.
    These volumes of extracts span roughly the first decade of her writing career. Her first work, Poems, Dedicated by Permission to the Countess of Moira, was published in 1801 and her first novel, St. Clair, or, the Heiress of Desmond (ca. 1803) came shortly thereafter; from then on she ceased governessing altogether in favor of writing. Owenson became one of the early creators of the carefully-researched historical fiction / historical romance genre which made Walter Scott famous. Her work, however, is more nationalistic than Scott's. Although some of her novels, such as The Novice of Saint Dominick (1807) and The Missionary (1811) do not address Ireland directly, she worked throughout her career to correct English prejudices about the history, behavior, and character of the Irish. She accomplished this most successfully in her third novel, The Wild Irish Girl (1806). The heroine, Glorvina, was so wildly popular as to make Celtic accessories fashionable in women's dress. In addition to nine novels, Owenson published essays, drama, a collection of Irish songs, a biography of the painter Salvatore Rosa, historical works (most notably Woman and Her Master [1840], a feminist approach to history), and the well-received travel narratives France (1817) and Italy (1821).
    Owenson became Lady Morgan in 1812 when she married Sir Thomas Charles Morgan, who had been knighted in 1811. Though the match seems to have been successful, a condition of their marriage, an unusual one for the time, was the keeping of separate finances. This measure was due in part to Owenson's life-long preference for independence, and her continued success as a professional writer.

    Scope and Content

    This set of commonplace books consists of three independent volumes given separate titles by the author. Each volume contains an index or table of contents. Based on the dates found in the text, they would have been compiled largely while the author was living in Ireland, though Volume II seems to have accompanied the author to London. Collectively, the volumes include quotations, biographical notes, literary extracts, letters, and original commentary and narrative works.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The volumes are as follows:
    • Volume I: Extracts from Various Works (circa 1800-1801?)
    • Volume II: Extracts and Reflections from 1800 (1800-?)
    • Volume III: Extraits Francoises Compilês par Sidney Owenson (circa 1800?).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Genres and Forms of Material


    Related Material

    Bound Manuscripts Collection (Collection 170)  . Available at UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.