Somerville, Edith Anna Oenone (1858-1949)

Biography/History

Irish novelist and artist. b. Corfu, 1858, family returning to Drishane, Co. Cork in 1859. ed. Alexandra College, Dublin. Studied art in London, Dusseldorf, and Paris after 1884, and became a magazine illustrator. She exhibited later in Dublin, London and New York, 1920-38. In 1886, met her cousin, Violet Martin, with whom she formed the successful literary partnership, Somerville and Ross. Their first book, An Irish Cousin, appeared in 1889, and by Martin’s death in 1915 they had published 14 titles together, including The Real Charlotte (1894), Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1899) and In Mr Knox’s Country (1915). Somerville continued to write and publish as Somerville and Ross despite Martin’s untimely death, believing that, through spiritualist séances, the two remained in contact. Subsequent successes included Irish Memories (1917) and The Big House at Inver (1925). In 1903, she became the first woman Master of Foxhounds and from 1912-19, served as Master of the West Carberry Pack. She was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Dublin in 1922 and in 1941 received the Gregory Gold Medal from the Irish Academy of Letters, of which she was a founding member. d. Drishane, 1949.