Valerie Pakenham worked as a journalist in London at Condé Nast and the Daily Mail before her marriage to the writer Thomas Pakenham. Her most recent book is The Big House in Ireland, an anthology published in 2001. She has lived in Westmeath, fourteen miles from Maria Edgeworth’s
old family home in Edgeworthstown, for over fifty years and is familiar with many of the places described in these letters. The Pakenham and Edgeworth families intermarried in the early eighteenth century and were close friends across several generations.