The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day is a holiday that commemorates and celebrates the life of Irish author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford. Her light romantic fiction became popular throughout the English-speaking world of the 19th century, and she published the majority of her work under the pen name “The Duchess.”

Her books sold as fast as she could write them and conformed to the model followed by most romantic novels of the day. They weren’t offensive to the Victorian morals of the time and had a charming appeal. This holiday celebrates the anonymity of her work and is observed on August 27th every year.

A Brief Biography of Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

“The Duchess” was born Margaret Wolfe Hamilton on April 27, 1855, to Canon Fitzjohn Stannus Hamilton—a Church of Ireland minister. As a child, she enjoyed making up her own stories, and some of them even won prizes at her school. She went on to pursue her education at Portarlington College and in 1872, married Edward Argles.

Mr. Argles was a Dublin solicitor who died approximately six years after they were married. During the course of the marriage, however, she gave birth to three daughters—daughters whom she now had to raise without a father. To supplement her income, she wrote her first novel, Phyllis.

After that novel became a success, she wrote Molly Bawn—one of her best-known books of all time. In 1882, she married Thomas Henry Hungerford and ended up having two sons and a daughter with him. She lived a quiet country life and became an avid gardener as well. On January 24, 1897, at the age of 41 years, she died of typhoid fever.

Observing The Duchess Who Wasn’t Day

We think the primary way a person could celebrate this holiday is to read one of her works of fiction. And she has quite a few of them for people to choose from. Some of the more popular ones include Molly Bawn (1878), Doris (1884), and A Modern Circe (1887). There are also collections of her stories that were gathered together posthumously, such as the 1897 collection, The Coming of Chloe.

When is it?
This year (2024)
August 27 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
August 27 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
August 27 Sunday
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