London, England: Longmans, Green & Co., 1919. First Edition. Hardcover. 12mo, 5.25 x 7.75 in., pp. 309. Green cloth board with black title to cover and gilt title to spine. Very light edge-wear. Age-staining to endpapers. Two chips to dustjacket: 1/2 x 1/2 inch from edge on rear cover, and 1/4 x 1/4 inch to top of spine. Slight darkening to dustjacket spine. Light spotting to dustjacket cover. Chipping to top of dustjacket spine and rear top edge. Moisture stain to bottom portion of dustjacket spine. Very Good Plus / Good. Item #85683
Edith Anna Œnone Somerville (2 May 1858 – 8 October 1949) was an Irish novelist who habitually signed herself as "E. Œ. Somerville". The eldest of eight children, Somerville grew up in Drishane, Castletownshend, County Cork, She is said to have dominated her sister and brothers in a family where women were encouraged to be bold. She received her primary education at home, and then attended Alexandra College in Dublin. In 1884, she went to Paris for the first of several trips to study art at the Académie Colarossi and Académie Delécluse, and then spent a term at the Westminster School of Art in Dean's Yard, Westminster. At home, riding and painting were her absorbing interests.
In January 1886, she met her cousin Violet Martin, and their literary partnership began the following year. In 1898 Edith Somerville went to paint at the Etaples art colony, accompanied by Violet. There they profited from their stay by conceiving together the stories later gathered in Some Experiences of an Irish R. M., completed the following year. By the time Violet died in 1915, they had published fourteen books together.
Her cousin's death stunned Edith, who continued to write as "Somerville and Ross", claiming that they kept in contact through spiritualist séances. The precise nature of their relationship — whether they were romantic and sexual partners as well as literary collaborators and friends — has been the object of speculation by later writers.
Somerville was a devoted sportswoman who, in 1903, had become master of the West Carbery Foxhounds. She was also active in the suffragist movement. She had exhibitions of her pictures in Dublin and in London between 1920 and 1938, and was active as an illustrator of sporting picture books and children's picture books. She died at Castletownshend in October 1949, aged 91, and is buried alongside Violet Florence Martin at Saint Barrahane's Church, Castletownsend.