Sarah Schaefer Walton presents "Austen as Fangirl: Maria Edgeworth's Influence on Some of the Biggest Names in 19th Century Literature." In this talk, Walton will contextualize Edgeworth's role in the political and educational discourse of her period, foregrounding her fascinating novel Belinda in order to consider how Edgeworth might have influenced Austen's novels specifically. Perhaps best known to Janeites as one of the examples used in the narrator's defense of novels in Northanger Abbey (“It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed..."), Belinda is a complex and entertaining story that introduces a host of nuanced female characters. Their conversation, relationships with one another, and opinions on education and childhood are at the center of Edgeworth's most famous novel and offer a range of opportunities for thinking about how Austen chooses to present women and children in her own work. As fans of Austen, we can appreciate her enthusiasm for Edgeworth's style and storytelling: in a letter she famously remarks to her niece: "I have made up my mind to like no novels really but Miss Edgeworth's, yours, and my own."