In 1815, Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, a twenty-six-year-old North Carolina schoolteacher, met a “Shylock.” Dishearteningly, he was a character in her favorite writer’s latest novel. Even worse, the malicious London coachmaker of Maria Edgeworth’s The Absentee (1812) was named Mr. Mordicai. The sting festered, and Rachel wrote to Edgeworth, a best-selling Irish writer of fiction and progressive educational guides, requesting an explanation. Rachel’s genteel, principled criticism moved and shamed Edgeworth, who not only begged pardon but set out in her next tale to unveil antisemitism’s irrational roots. So began an epistolary friendship that continued until Rachel Mordecai Lazarus’s death, though few knew of it. Adhering closely to social strictures on women—to be widely known was to risk one’s virtue—she refused ever to have her name publicly linked to Edgeworth or to the apologetic novel she inspired, Harrington (1817).