Happy birthday to Miss Emily Eden

NPG 6455; Emily Eden by Simon Jacques Rochard

She would have insisted on the “Miss.” Emily Eden was an English writer and traveler, and a remarkable and talented woman. She traveled to India when she was quite young (her brother was Governor-General there); her letters about her travels was later published in Up the Country. She is also the author of two very funny novels that I read whenever I’m in a really bad mood: The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House. She can be obnoxious, with all the prejudices of a 19th century aristocrat, but she creates wonderful characters, and she is never, ever, ever boring.

Her favorite novelist was Jane Austen, and it shows, although there’s a bit of Charles Dickens lurking in Semi-Detached.

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Her portrait is courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, and is offered for limited, non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.