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Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars A simply wonderful biography of a Victorian character., 12 May 2008
This review is from: Maria Drummond. A Sketch (Hardcover)
Here is a wonderful lost story, not only of the enigmatic Maria but of her adoptive father, Richard "Conversation" Sharp (1759-1835) [see Oxford Dict. Biog).
Her precise birthdate is arguable (c.1810), but rescued as an orphan from the West Indies, Maria nee Kinnaird, led a privileged life in Park Lane, Hyde Park Gardens and finally Mickleham (where her house still stands, and where she is buried in the church-yard). She knew many society figures in London, mainly Whig society, including Sydney Smith, Samuel Rogers, Faraday, Babbage, the Brownings, Thackeray, etc etc. She was said to be a favourite of the artist Turner, romantically llinked with Macaulay and Romilly's son among others. Wordsworth loved to hear her sing and Maria was best friends with Dora Wordsworth who revered her before her father achieved his reputation. Maria finally married Thomas Drummond and lived in Phoenix Castle for a while when he was Under-secretary for Ireland.
Richard Sharp raised Maria for a successful life in London society. He left her a multimillionairess (by today's standards)and she grew up knowing anyone worth knowing in society especially in the arts, sciences and dissenting religious circles. Richard Sharp was a giant of his time and this modest volume includes rare details not only of Maria but of Sharp himself. Some, such as Sir George Philips, scandalously claimed that Maria was actually Sharp's illegitimate daughter, but there is no real evidence for this.
For lover's of Georgian London and Victorian society figures, this little book is a gem. When will the story of Maria, and of her adoptive father, Richard Sharp, ever be told? Where is the film, the epic, the drama, the opera - for surely the rich historical material is worthy of such productions.
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