Maria Edgeworth's sparkling satire about the Anglo-Irish family of an absentee landlord is also a landmark novel of morality and social realism. The Absentee centres around Lord and Lady Clonbrony, a couple more concerned with London society than their duties and responsibilities to those who live and work on their Irish estates. Recognising this negligence, their son Lord Colambre goes incognito to Ireland to observe the situation and trace the origins of his beloved cousin Grace. To put matters straight he finds a solution that will bring prosperity and contentment to every level of society, including his own family. In her Introduction, Heidi Thomson explores the political and social themes of the book and places it in its historical context. With Castle Rackrent and The Absentee Maria Edgeworth helped create the 'regional' novel, rich in atmosphere and local character, and influenced writers as disparate as Scott, Thackeray and Turgenev.