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Corvey ‘Adopt an Author’ |
Hannah Mariah Jones
The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University

Plot Synopsis of Emily Moreland; or, The Maid of the Valley by Hannah Maria Jones

Fiona Alexander

Reuben Moreland and his wife are disgraced by the conduct of their daughter, Marian and Reuben is forced to resign as curate and move to the Valley of St Clare. One night, their disgraced daughter returns with her baby, but passes away before the morning. The baby is named Emily and she is the illegitimate daughter of a previous ward of the Morelands, Reginald de Cardonnel.

Reuben and his wife bring up their granddaughter on their own. One day, a foreigner by the name of Rosalia Orsini visits the valley and is so impressed with the child's beauty and intelligence, that she offers to look after her should anything happen to the Morelands. Reuben Moreland dies not long after and when a fire destroys their cottage, Emily's grandmother becomes very weak and passes away within a month. Emily becomes dependent on the charity of Signora Rosalia Orsini.

One day Emily sees a young man in the Valley who she very much admires and she discovers that his name is Herbert Leslie. The curate of the parish, Mr Evelyn, offers Emily his hand in marriage, but Emily rejects him. The Signora and Emily live together until finances run low and then Rosalia is forced to travel to London to make other arrangements. When she does not return, Emily is forced to consider her own financial situation and also travels to London, hoping to make acquaintances and establish herself within society.

In the capital, Emily and Susan (Emily's companion and 'experienced' friend) reside in an expensive establishment, which Susan pays for. Emily is prudent though and distrusting the new acquaintances that Susan has made (who arranged the accommodation for them), moves to the much cheaper house of Mrs Inglis, a motherly figure whose own daughter died at a young age after losing her virtue to a young gentleman. One day, when Emily is putting an advertisement in a newspaper for employment, she meets Mr Moreland, a distant relative who is eager to assist Emily in anyway he can.

Mr Moreland arranges for Emily to live with Lady Rachel Moreland, also a distant relative, but Emily is made to change her name to Miss Russell so as not to tarnish the family's name. Emily is treated like a prisoner and is eventually rescued by one of Lady Rachel's associates, Mrs Lucy. Mrs Lucy arranges for Emily to take a position with Lady Haviland, a close friend, who requires a companion. It transpires that Lady Haviland is in fact the wife of Emily's father, Reginald de Cardonnel (or Lord Haviland) and that it was for this lady that Emily's father left her mother, Marian Moreland. Lord Haviland is repentant and they decide to move back to London to introduce Emily into society, giving her some money so that she can be independent of them if she so wishes. During this time, Emily is reunited with Rosalia Orsini who had previously left England to search for her elder sister Laurentina, who she had received some information about. Emily attracts many suitors during her time in London, including Mr Townsend and Mr Frazer, but rejects them all in favour of her memory of Herbert Leslie.

One night, Lord Haviland has a duel with Mr Frazer, who has been spreading scandal about Emily and is bitter after being rejected by Emily. Lord Haviland is fatally wounded and Emily inherits all his estates and title. It is also discovered that the man that Emily has been attracted to since childhood, Herbert Leslie, is in fact the nephew of Rosalia Orsini, the son of Walter Moreland and Laurentina Orsini and is the heir to both the Moreland and Orsini estates and titles. Emily and Herbert Leslie (or William Moreland as hewas christened) return to England and get married, becoming the Earl and Countess of Moreland.