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  • Writer's pictureHabranthus

The Life of Darcy, Lady Maxwell

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Rev. John Lancaster, editor


Lane & Tippett, 1848

One would have to enter a monastery to be able to finish this book in any practical amount of time.


The diary and letters of Lady Maxwell of Pollok (1743 - 1810), widowed and childless very young, who afterwards became devoutly religious and charitable.


Married as a teenager, by the time Lady Maxwell was twenty, her husband and infant son had died. She subsequently devoted her life to religion and philanthropy. One of her main projects was the founding of a school for poor children.


First of all, I did not read this book beyond the first two chapters and the final chapter, plus some perusing here and there between. I bought the book judging by it's cover, title and antiquity. This method serves me well most of the time, but in this case I have ended up with a book out of my league.

As the summary suggests, her story is not very complicated. What is particular about Lady Maxwell is her adamant devotion to piousness and virtue, and she kept an extensive diary to document her endeavors. This diary along with her written correspondence make up the bulk of this book.

The writing is dense, excessively ornate, and drawn out - typical of the era. It's similar to reading Edgar Allan Poe, but not fun or interesting. Remember, too, that it's mostly a personal diary, so expect periodic rambling and mundane accounts.

Her biography, as Lady Maxwell herself intended, is meant to be a religious work of faith, and often takes the tone and vocabulary of a sermon. Its purpose, I'm assuming, is to present an inspirational account of exemplary service to God, and to extol the virtues of a life dedicated as such. It seems to be successful, as it has been reprinted as lately as 2017.

The work was originally published in two volumes. My copy, the second edition, is squeezed into one book, with 407 pages of teensy print. Reading it requires excellent lighting and full, undivided attention. I perceive it may be enjoyed by individuals equal in Lady Maxwell's religious fervor, paced at sufficiently restful intervals.

38 views2 comments


Apr 11, 2023

Where did you find your copy?

Apr 12, 2023
Replying to

I'm not exactly sure, but I think in one of the antique shops in downtown Ardmore, Oklahoma.


a shout out to writers long gone

Antique Book Review

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