The Dreamwork of a Nation: From Virginia Woolf to Elizabeth Bowen to Mary Lavin

Patricia Laurence

For a more detailed reading of this subject matter, see Laurence’s chapter ‘The Dreamwork of a Nation: From Virginia Woolf to Elizabeth Bowen to Mary Lavin’ in  ‘The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Global Literature (2021),  Edited by Jeanne DubinoPaulina PająkCatherine W. HollisCeliese LypkaVara Neverow.

Too often women writers are viewed by critics and scholars as single subjects immersed in the culture and politics of a nation or their times. If we explore a comparative methodology of ‘shared affinities’ and consider and interpret them in national or international networks and pairings (as the IWWN September forum encouraged) we bring new aspects of their lives and new readings into view. Discovering shared affinities sometimes relieves authors of overworked cultural, political and critical positions in which they are stuck in their own contexts and cultures. Engaged in their own writing and experiments in different circles, classes, times or different parts of the globe, they may be unaware of each other. Nevertheless, placing them side by side on a broader global canvas will illuminate cultural and aesthetic refractions. Abandoning the overworked literary category of ‘influence’, I would argue, usefully repositions British and Irish women writers of different generations on a broader canvas.

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Emerging Voices 2: Shirley-Anne Godfrey

Shirley-Anne Godfrey is an emerging Irish playwright, currently researching how drama and theatre can be used as methodologies in rehabilitating the literary legacies of Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) and Frances Browne (1816-1879) for her PhD at NUI Galway. Funded by the Irish Research Council, Godfrey’s research findings have recently been published in a chapter on “Lady Gregory’s Grania (1912): Myth and Mythology” in David Clare, Fiona McDonagh, and Justine Nakase’s The Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights (Liverpool University Press, 2021). Based on her research into Browne, a prolific Donegal poet, novelist, and essayist, Godfrey has written a play titled In My Mind’s Eye, which was chosen for the Lyric Theatre Belfast’s New Playwright’s Programme 2018/2019. The play has had rehearsed readings at the Lyric Theatre as well as at the American Irish Historical Society.

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Rosa Mulholland republished on the centenary of her death

James H. Murphy

Rosa Mulholland, Lady Gilbert (1841-1921), died in the spring of 1921. Spring 2021, the centenary of her death, marks the publication of Rosa Mulholland: Feminist, Victorian, Catholic and Patriot, published by Edward Everett Root and edited by James H. Murphy. This reader of Mulholland’s work is part of the Irish Women Writers: Texts and Contexts series, whose editors are Kathryn Laing and Sinead Mooney, co-founders of the Irish Women’s Writing Network 1880-1920. The book consists of an introduction and bibliography of Mulholland’s work, and seven selections from her work. These have been chosen on the basis of their status as significant interventions into various issues of importance and also for being illustrative of the variety of topics she addressed at different points in her career.

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Emerging Voices 1: Nora Moroney

Nora Moroney has a research specialism in Irish literary cultures and their influence on and connection with the late-Victorian British periodical press. Her publications to date include articles on Irish women journalists in the Victorian Periodicals Review, focusing particularly on the writings of Alice Stopford Green and Charlotte Grace O’Brien, and on Belfast newspapers in The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, Volume 3. Funded by the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme, she is currently conducting research into ‘The Benjamin Iveagh Library: A Cultural History of Collecting in Twentieth-Century Ireland’, a project that focuses on a private book collection based at Dublin’s Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park. Prior to her IRC postdoc, Moroney held a research post in the Manuscript Department of the National Library of Ireland where she worked on collections of nineteenth-century estate papers and twentieth-century literary archives. 

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From Bushy Park to Elsinore: Noëlle Ffrench Davies

Mary Turley-McGrath

In January 1924, a young Irish woman arrived in Denmark to take up her position as a lecturer in the International People’s College in Elsinore. Born into a wealthy farming background in Co. Roscommon, she could have opted for a leisurely life. However, her dynamic spirit and determined personality set her on a diverse and exciting path. She had an ambition: to learn about the Danish Folk High-School system and to establish a similar one in Ireland.

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Research Pioneers 13: Kathryn Laing

Kathryn Laing has a career-long research expertise in women’s writing and Irish women’s writing in particular. Her wide-ranging publications focus on the works of Hannah Lynch, Rebecca West, Virginia Woolf, and Edna O’Brien. Together with Faith Binckes, she’s co-written the study Hannah Lynch, 1859-1904: Irish writer, Cosmopolitan, New Woman (2019), and, with Sinéad Mooney co-edited Irish Women Writers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: Alternative Histories, New Narratives (2020). You can read the introduction to that volume here.

Her service to the field most recently bore fruit in the co-founding of the Irish Women Writers Network 1880-1920 that has the ambitious aims of bringing together scholars with common research interests, providing a virtual platform that offers research and teaching resources, and making the latest research findings accessible to students in the form of a new network-associated series of full-length works issued through EER publishing.

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Away with the Fairies: Irish Folklore and Fin-De-Siècle Motherhood in Katharine Tynan’s Ballads and Lyrics (1891)

Sadbh Kellett, University of St. Andrews 

The Irish writer Katharine Tynan was remarkable in her personal and literary embodiment of the ‘New Woman’. An educated member of Dublin’s Catholic middle-class, Tynan’s formidable literary career resulted in her financial independence, which she maintained alongside her nationalist political activism, all the while playing the part of dedicated wife and mother. As Aurelia L.S. Annat suggests:

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Rockmahon, Blackrock Co. Cork: Family home of Novelist and Short Story writer Ethel Colburn Mayne (1865-1941)

Elke D’hoker, University of Leuven

This is Rockmahon[i], one of the original nineteenth-century properties along Castle Road in Blackrock, Cork. Built around 1820, the house is adjacent to the river Lee. It faces north towards the docks and the Tivoli hills and east towards Blackrock Castle. From 1894 to 1905, Rockmahon was the home of the writer Ethel Colburn Mayne, whose literary career took off in 1895 when a story of hers was accepted in The Yellow Book. Although Mayne is little known today, she went on to build an impressive and versatile career as a novelist, short fiction writer, biographer, reviewer and translator.  

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Chambers’s Journal and Irish Women Writers at the Fin de Siècle: The Case of Magdalen Rock

Alexis Easley, University of St. Thomas

From its founding in 1832, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal strove to reach a national audience. This meant employing a corps of writers who could speak to both national and regional concerns. As David Masson noted in 1851, the Chambers brothers employed ‘Englishmen and Englishwomen, Irishmen and Irishwomen, as well as countrymen and countrywomen of their own, writers of the highest celebrity as well as aspirants whom they have helped to encourage’ (186). As I have shown elsewhere, this list of ‘aspirants’ included a large number of women writers between 1839 and 1855. The firm’s ledgers from this period reveal the identities of 136 women who contributed some 1,048 essays, stories, and poems to the journal. A disproportionately large number of these women – about 21% – were Irish.

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Hope and Hunger in a Stricken Land: Jane Wilde and the Great Hunger

Christine Kinealy, Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University

This is an extract from Professor Christine Kinealy’s article ‘Hope and Hunger in a Stricken Land: the Wilde Family and the Great Hunger’ in Reading Ireland, issue 12, edited by Adrienne Leavy.

Speranza (Jane Elgee) and William Wilde, affluent members of the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland, were both champions of the poor during the Great Hunger. Following their marriage in 1851, they achieved a celebrity status in their native country and an enviable life-style. William, a brilliant eye and ear doctor, was named as Oculist-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria and, in 1864, was knighted for his services to the Empire, particularly for his work on various Irish censuses. Jane and William, who resided in the prestigious Merrion Square, attended many vice regal functions at Dublin Castle, the symbol of British rule in Ireland. Yet this privileged couple, in multiple ways, advocated for the Irish poor and they provided some of the most searing criticisms of the British government’s response to the Famine. Their second son, Oscar, would later use his own skills to challenge British rule in Ireland.   

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