Eaton Stannard Barrett

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Eaton Stannard Barrett (1786 – 20 March 1820) was an Irish poet and author of political satires and the comic novel The Heroine, or: Adventures of a fair romance reader (1813).


Born in County Cork, Barrett attended Trinity College, Dublin, and studied law at Middle Temple, London, although he was never called to the bar. His poems, satirising Whig politics in general and Lord Grenville's special ministry in particular, went through numerous editions.[1]

Barratt's comic gothic novel The Heroine (published in 1813) was an instant success. Further editions quickly followed in 1814 and 1815. Among those who praised the novel at the time was Jane Austen, who declared herself "very much amused by it" and called it "a delightful burlesque".[2] The Critical Review described it as "a very spirited and laughable satire upon the various productions and the name of the novel... which have appeared for the last 18 or 19 years."[3] Another critic praised it as "not inferior in wit and humour to Tristram Shandy, and in point of plot and interest infinitely beyond Don Quixote."[4]

Edgar Allan Poe wrote in 1835: "There are few books written with more tact, spirit, naiveté, or grace... and none more fairly entitled to rank among the classics of English literature than the Heroine of Eaton Stannard Barrett."[5] It was regularly read and reprinted until the early 20th century. After being neglected and out of print for almost a century, it has recently been revived by a new edition in 2011.

Despite this literary success, little is known of Barrett's life. He appears to have died of tuberculosis in 1820, and yet he is mentioned as an author in a publication called The American Farmer, printed in Baltimore and dated 1823.[1] Given his reported financial difficulties,[6] it is possible though unproven that he fled to America to escape his debtors.

In Young Ireland: A Fragment of Irish History, 1840–1845. Final Revision, Charles Gavin Duffy claims that one of Daniel O'Connell's close allies during the Repeal movement – and his least reputable associate – was Eaton Stannard Barrett's "brother" Richard Barrett. Duffy writes that both Richard and Eaton were "Tory newspapermen" and that Richard converted to Repeal and consequently published Dublin's Repeal newspaper The Pilot. However, since Duffy characterizes all of the Repealers brought to the 1844 State Trials as being "in the flush of manhood" except for Thomas Steele and Daniel O'Connell, it seems unlikely that Eaton was Richard's brother – perhaps his father or a cousin or uncle?[7]

List of works[edit]

  • The Rising Sun: A Serio-Comic Satiric Romance by Cervantes Hogg (1807)
  • The Second Titan War Against Heaven (1807)
  • All the Talents: A satirical poem in three dialogues (1807)
  • "Woman" and other poems (1810)
  • The Heroine, or: Adventures of a fair romance reader (1813)
  • My Wife, What Wife? (1815)


  1. ^ a b Introduction. in: The Heroine, or Adventures of a fair romance reader. Avril Horner and Sue Zlasnik (eds.) Valancourt Classics 2011
  2. ^ Letter to Cassandra Austen, 2 March 1814.
  3. ^ Critical Review No. 4 (December 1813) pp. 623–29.
  4. ^ The Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland (1816). Cited in Devandra P. Varma. The Gothic Flame. History of the Gothic Novel in England (London, 1987) p. 181.
  5. ^ Edgar Allan Poe, in The Southern Literary Messenger (1835)
  6. ^ Peel Papers Vol. LXXII; British Museum Additional MS 40,252 Folio 108
  7. ^ See Duffy[who?], p. 67.

External links[edit]