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Who was Countess of Blessington?
Countess of Blessington (1789-1849) was an English writer, remembered chiefly for her association with Lord Byron and Count d'Orsay. Of her large literary output, little survives except her Journal of Conversations with Lord Byron (1834), in which, according to recent evidence, she exaggerated her intimacy with Byron, whom she met in Genoa in 1823.
The Countess of Blessington was born Margaret (later Marguerite) Power on September 1, 1789, at Knockbrit, County Tipperary, Ireland. By her own account, when she was 14 she was sold into marriage to Capt. Maurice St. Leger Farmer, a dissolute landed gentleman, who maltreated her. They soon separated, and, after an interval as the mistress of Lord Glengall "in a most humble occasional way," she was supported for several years by Capt. Thomas Jenkins. Her beauty and charm ultimately captivated the rich, intemperate widower Viscount Mountjoy, 1st Earl of Blessington. In 1817 her husband died, and on February 16, 1818, she became Countess Blessington.
The handsome Alfred, Count d'Orsay, entered her life in 1822, and soon he and the Blessing-tons formed a menage a trois. In 1827, d'Orsay married Lady Harriet Gardiner, Lady Blessing-ton's 15-year-old stepdaughter, in order to secure her huge dowry, but by prearrangement between d'Orsay and Lady Blessington the marriage was never consummated.
Blessington died in 1829, and his widow continued to live sumptuously with d'Orsay, even though her income from Blessington's estate was reduced and her debts were mounting. She augmented this income by writing novels and editing fashionable "annuals," but her earnings were inadequate for her tastes. In 1849, d'Orsay fled to Paris to escape his creditors, and she followed. On June 4, 1849, she died in Paris.