Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

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Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (Hamilton)

Birthplace: County Cork, Ireland
Death: January 24, 1897 (37)
Rosscarberry, Cork, Ireland
Place of Burial: Rosscarberry, Cork, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Fitzjohn Stannus Hamilton and Sarah Hamilton Hamilton
Wife of Edward Argles and Thomas Henry Hungerford of Cahimore House
Mother of Susan Argles; Elsie Argles; Reine Argles; Henry Hungerford; Vera T S Farnham and 1 other

Occupation: Author pen name: Dutchess
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

Clonakilty Museum link:

Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, née Hamilton, (1855 –24 January 1897), was an Irish novelist whose light romantic fiction was popular in England and America in the late 19th century.

She was born in County Cork, Ireland on April 27th, 1859. Her father was Canon Fitzjohn Stannus Hamilton, rector and vicar-choral at St. Faughnan's cathedral in Ross Carberry.

As a child she enjoyed making up stories, and won prizes for her writing at school. She was educated at Portarlington College.

In 1872 she married Edward Argles, a Dublin solicitor, who died less than 6 years later. They had three daughters.

She wrote her first novel (Phyliss) when she was 18 years old. Soon after its favourable reception, she wrote Molly Bawn, which became her most well-known book.

In 1882 she married Thomas Henry Hungerford, of Cahirmore, with whom she had two sons and one daughter.

They lived at St. Brenda's, Bandon, County Cork By contemporary accounts, she enjoyed country life and was an avid gardener. She rarely traveled far from home.

She was one of the few women in Victorian times who was both a prolific author and mother of a sizeable family.

She approached her writing methodically, setting aside three hours every morning for it. The room where she did her writing had neatly organized manuscripts at her desk, surrounded by many reference works, novels, and other books.

Mrs. Hungerford died of typhoid fever (1897).

Her books were first published anonymously, and later as by "Mrs. Hungerford". In the United States, her books were mostly published under the pen name "The Duchess".

Some of her early books were published by William Tinsley, a major publisher at the time.

Often writing on commission, she wrote many novels, short stories, and newspaper articles. Her books were very popular throughout the English-speaking world, and they continued selling as fast as she could write them.

Her plots follow the usual conventions of romantic novels of the day. They contain delicate love scenes that were never offensive to the ideals of Victorian morals.

Her works are characterized as entertaining and charming, though usually not of great depth. She tends to have little in the way of character development, tending more towards flirtatious dialogue.

She was adept at capturing the tone of her contemporary fashionable society, and sometimes used Irish settings.

Hungerford's best-known novel is Molly Bawn, the story of a frivolous, petulant Irish girl, a flirt, who arouses her lover's jealousy and naively ignores social conventions.

Molly Bawn is credited as containing the first appearance of the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

Mrs. Hungerford and her book Molly Bawn are mentioned in chapter 18 of James Joyce's Ulysses:

"...Molly bawn she gave me by Mrs Hungerford on account of the name I don't like books with a Molly in them like that one he brought me about the one from Flanders..."


Phyllis : a Novel, 1877

Molly Bawn, 1878

Airy Fairy Lilian, 1879

Beauty's Daughters, 1880

Mrs. Geoffrey, 1881

Faith and Unfaith, 1881

Portia, or by Passions Rocked, 1882

Loys, Lord Beresford, and other Tales, 1883

Moonshine and Marguerites, 1883

Rossmoyne, 1883

Doris, 1884

The witching hour, and other stories, 1884 (U.S.)

Fortune's wheel, and other stories, 1884

A Week in Killarney, 1884--reissued as Her Week's Amusement, 1886

O Tender Dolores, 1885

Mildred Trevanion, 1885

A Maiden All Forlorn, and other Stories, 1885

In Durance Vile, and Other Stories, 1885

Dick's Sweetheart, 1885 (U.S.)

Green Pastures and Grey Grief, 1885

Lady Branksmere, 1886

A Mental Struggle, 1886

The Haunted Chamber, 1886 (U.S.)

Lady Valworth's Diamonds, 1886

A Modern Circe, 1887

The Duchess, 1887

Undercurrents, 1888

Marvel, 1888

Honourable Mrs. Vereker, 1888

A Life's Remorse, 1889

A Troublesome Girl, 1889

A Born Coquette, 1890

April's Lady, 1890

A Little Rebel, 1890

Her Last Throw, 1890

A Little Irish Girl, and other Stories, 1891

The O'Connors of Ballinahinch, 1892

A Conquering Heroine, 1892

Nor Wife Nor Maid, 1892

A Conquering Heroine, 1892

Lady Patty, 1892

Nora Creina, 1892

A Mad Prank, 1893

The Red House Mystery, 1893

Lady Verner's Flight, 1893

An Unsatisfactory Lover, 1894

Peter's Wife, 1894

The Hoyden, 1894

The Three Graces, 1895

A Tug of War, 1895

The Professor's Experiment, 1895

Molly Darling an Other Stories, 1895

A Lonely Girl, 1896-- (American title: A Lonely Maid)

A Point of Conscience, 1896

An Anxious Moment, 1897--(Stories)

Lovice, 1897 (posthumous)

The Coming of Chloe, 1897 (posthumous)


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Margaret Wolfe Hungerford's Timeline

April 27, 1859
County Cork, Ireland
January 24, 1897
Age 37
Rosscarberry, Cork, Ireland
Rosscarberry, Cork, Ireland