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Martin, Mary Letitia (1815–1850)

Martin, Mary Letitia (1815–1850)

Irish novelist . Name variations: Mrs. Bell Martin; Princess of Connemara. Born Harriet Mary Letitia Martin at Ballinahinch Castle, County Galway, Ireland, on August 25, 1815; died in childbirth in New York on November 7, 1850; only child of Thomas Barnewall Martin (an MP); granddaughter of "Humanity Dick" Martin; married Arthur Gonne Bell, in 1847.

An Irish novelist, known as Mrs. Bell Martin and the Princess of Connemara, Mary Letitia Martin was born in 1815 at Ballinahinch Castle, County Galway, and, on the death of her father in 1847, inherited a sizeable estate, mortgaged to the Land Life Assurance Company for £200,000. During the Irish famine of 1846–47, the Martin family had spent large sums on food and clothing for their tenant laborers. In 1847, Mary married Arthur Gonne Bell of Brookside, County Mayo, who brought no money into the marriage and assumed the surname of Martin by royal license. When Mary could not meet the mortgage payments on the property, the matter was taken up by the Encumbered Estates Court, and Mary Letitia Martin was left penniless. The couple moved to Belgium where she turned to writing for monetary support; she then sailed to New York in 1850, hoping to better her fortune. Martin died there in childbirth on November 7,1850. Her chief works are St. Etienne, a Tale of the Vendean War (1845) and Julia Howard: A Romance, published the year of her death.

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