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Starke, Mariana (DNB00)

STARKE, MARIANA (1762?–1838), writer of guide-books, born about 1762, was daughter of Richard Starke by his wife Mary, daughter of Isaac Hughes of Banstead, Surrey. The father was for some time governor of Fort St. George in Madras, and later a resident at Epsom, Surrey. Mariana's early years were passed in India, where her keen observation of Anglo-Indian life afterwards afforded material for ‘The Sword of Peace, or a Voyage of Love,’ a comedy which was acted at the Haymarket Theatre on 9 Aug. 1788, with Miss Farren in the cast. It was published, Dublin, 1789, 8vo, and it was again played at Bath on 23 March 1809. Indian colour is also introduced into ‘The Widow of Malabar,’ a tragedy in three acts (Dublin, 1791, 8vo; London, 1791, 8vo; 3rd edit. 1791, 8vo). The epilogue was written by Miss Starke's nephew, R. J. Hughes Starke (d. at Dinard, Brittany, 1838). The tragedy was produced at Mrs. Crespigny's private theatre, Camberwell, and at Covent Garden Theatre in 1798. A third dramatic effort was ‘The Tournament,’ a tragedy, London, 1800. All were of slight interest.

A seven years' residence in Italy in attendance on a consumptive relative led Miss Starke to write ‘Letters from Italy’ (2 vols. London, 1800; 2nd edit. 1815; translated into German, 1802). While in Italy she became acquainted with the Dowager-countess Spencer, at whose suggestion she published ‘The Beauties of Carlo Maria Maggi Paraphrased,’ with sonnets of her own, Exeter, 1811, 8vo. Miss Starke had by that date removed to Exmouth, but she revisited Italy in 1817–19, and published ‘Travels on the Continent,’ London, 1820, 8vo, which was followed by her ‘Information and Directions for Travellers on the Continent’ (5th edit. London, 1824, 8vo; 6th edit. 1828; 7th edit. 1829; translated into French, Paris, 1826, 8vo). It was enlarged and republished as ‘Travels in Europe for the use of Travellers on the Continent and likewise in the Island of Sicily, to which is added an account of the Remains of Ancient Italy’ (8th edit. London, 1832, 8vo). These guide-books are carefully compiled, and proved useful forerunners of the labours of Murray and Baedeker. Miss Starke died at Milan, on a journey from Naples to England, in the spring of 1838, aged 76.

[Genest's Hist. of Stage, vi. 510, vii. 369, viii. 157, x. 219; Baker's Biogr. Dramatica, ii. 345, 405, 813; Gent. Mag. 1838, ii. 111; Lit. Mem. of Living Authors, ii. 276; Reuss's Reg. of Living Authors, p. 350; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iii. 87; Quérard's La France Littéraire, ix. 257.]

C. F. S.