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Edith Anna Œnone Somerville (2 May 1858 – 8 October 1949) was an Irish novelist who habitually signed herself as "E. Œ. Somerville". She wrote in collaboration with her cousin "Martin Ross" (Violet Martin) under the pseudonym, "Somerville and Ross". Together they published a series of fourteen stories and novels, the most popular of which were The Real Charlotte, and The Experiences of an Irish R. M., published in 1899.



She was born on Corfu, where her father was stationed, the eldest of eight children.[1] A year later he retired to Drishane, County Cork, where Somerville grew up. She received her primary education at home, and then at Alexandra College, Dublin, later studying art in Paris in 1884 and at the Royal Westminster School of Art in London. At home riding and painting were her absorbing interests.[1]

In 1887 she met her cousin Violet Martin, and thus began their literary partnership. Their first book, An Irish Cousin, appeared in 1889. By the time Violet died in 1915 they had published fourteen books together.[1]

Somerville was stunned by Martin's death. She was in London the following year, still recovering from the shock, when the 1916 Insurrection broke out. On 9 May she wrote a letter to the Times, blaming the British Government for the state of affairs in Ireland.[2] She tended towards Nationalism afterwards, and, an adept musician, at parties specialized in Irish tunes and Nationalist songs.[3]

Following Martin's death in 1915, Somerville continued to write as "Somerville and Ross", claiming that they were still in contact through a spiritualist séances.

She had exhibitions of her pictures in Dublin and in London between 1920-38; and was active as an illustrator of children's picture books and sporting picture books. Somerville was a devoted sportswoman who, in 1903 became master of the West Carbery Foxhounds. She was also active in the suffragist movement, corresponding with Dame Ethel Smyth.[4]

She died at age 91 in Castletownshend, County Cork.



Collaborative novels

  • An Irish Cousin (1889)
  • Naboth's Vineyard (1891)
  • In the Vine Country (1893)
  • Through Connemara in a Governess Cart (1893)
  • The Real Charlotte (1894)
  • Beggars on Horseback (1895)
  • The Silver Fox (1897)
  • Some Experiences of an Irish R. M. (1899)
  • A Patrick's Day Hunt (1902)
  • All on the Irish Shore (1903)
  • Further Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1908)
  • Dan Russell the Fox (1911)
  • In Mr Knox's Country (1915)

Solo novels

  • Irish Memories (1917)
  • Mount Music (1919)
  • The Big House at Inver (1925)
  • The States through Irish Eyes (1930)
  • An Incorruptible Irishman (1932)
  • The Sweet Cry of Hounds (1936)
  • The Death of the Heart (1938)
  • Sarah's Youth (1938)
  • The Heat of the Day (1949)
  • Maria and Some Other Dogs (1949)

References and sources

  1. ^ a b c Boylan (1998)
  2. ^ Gifford (1887) p. 160
  3. ^ Gifford (1887) p. 165
  4. ^ Gifford (1887)
  • Lewis, Gifford (1987). Somerville and Ross: The World of the Irish RM. London: Penguin. ISBN 014008262-X.  
  • Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 406. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4.  

External links


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