Maria Bullworth

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A beautiful woman of good birth, Mrs Maria Bullworth is living in retirement in Hampstead after having been seduced and later abandoned by Henry Lascelles.[36] As an adulterous wife she is naturally exiled from polite society: however she is maintained in some comfort by her father, Sir James Southwell (a gentleman of good property in Northamptonshire) but only on the condition she remain in perpetual and perfect seclusion. Mrs Bullworth finds her isolation very difficult to bear, the more so as she knows that society, which has passed such remorseless judgment on her, absolves her seducer of all blame.

Mrs Bullworth is also one of the persons duped by Christopher Drawlight into believing that he is an agent for the magician Jonathan Strange. Incensed at what she feels to be the injustice of her unequal fate, she is but too easily convinced by him that Strange would, for a sufficient sum of money, use magic to punish those people she believes to have wronged her. These include her deserted husband, Mr Bullworth; his mother; Mrs Bullworth's own father; a Miss Church, cousin to Mrs Bullworth and recently engaged to be married to a clergyman; and - last but not by any means least - Henry Lascelles.

While Drawlight is discussing her situation with Mrs Bullworth in her drawing room at Hampstead his scheme is exposed by the unexpected arrival of Jonathan Strange. Alerted by others to Drawlight's deceit, Strange has found his way there by means of his recent discovery of the King's Roads. Once in possession of all the facts he reveals to Mrs Bullworth that she has been the victim of a deception and, although showing sympathy with her plight, steadfastly refuses to forward any of her malicious plans for revenge. Brooding and dissatisfied, she brings their interview to a close.[36]

Mrs Bullworth's ultimate fate is not known. It may be that her aunt, a pious lady with whom she lives, may at length persuade her to accept her lot in a spirit of humble contrition. Then again, she may not.


[Note: Several persons have commented on similarities between the unfortunate Mrs Bullworth and a fictional character, 'Maria Rushworth', in a novel by Miss Jane Austen, Mansfield Park. These are so close it is perhaps possible that the distinguished authoress knew some details of Mrs Bullworth's story - though we can be sure she would never have learned them from a man as discreet and honourable as Jonathan Strange. Nor, of course, can one easily suppose that Christopher Drawlight would be known to her. The connexion is a mystery.]

Maria.jpg

No way to be 100% certain, for sure, but this could well be a post-deceit carricature of Mrs Bullworth. Interesting name too, Bullworth; try some word association yourselves, surprising results...