Research Pioneers 3: James H. Murphy

From the period of his earliest publications, James H. Murphy has been involved in the process of recovering and re-examining largely forgotten Irish works. As one reviewer noted of his Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922 (1997), Murphy’s work is consistently the ‘product of considerable and careful research’ into ‘texts many of us never heard of’. Likewise, as another reviewer asserted about his 2011 Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age, Murphy’s intensive research into and surveys of novels by the ‘many forgotten authors’ of that era have been key to the invigoration of research into Irish women’s literary texts. We ask Murphy to reflect on his influential research and recovery efforts here.

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Letters and the archive: Kate O Brien and Mary O Malley

Dr. Barry Houlihan

The correspondence of writers offers a significant insight into their personal as well as professional lives, revealing much about the networks in which they communicate and circulate ideas. Such archival sources can counter other public and more official sources and narratives including reviews, production histories, publication and publishers’ records, which all give voice to the public reception of a writer, though of course always within the context through which those works were received, distributed, or in some cases also censored and banned. Like other women novelists, playwrights, and writers of her generation, Kate O’Brien was a frequent target of such moral and literary censorship within modern Ireland.

A series of letters between Kate O’Brien and Mary O’Malley, founding director of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, reveals a neglected exchange that may not be widely known among scholars or fans of O’Brien’s work. Held within the Lyric Theatre/O’Malley Archive at the Hardiman library, NUI Galway, the letters between O’Brien and O’Malley record an exchange over many years between two pioneers in literary form, theatrical production and publishing.

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Book Review: Mary Lee: The Life and Times of a ‘Turbulent Anarchist’ and Her Battle for Women’s Rights

Sharon Crozier-De Rosa

Mary Lee: The Life and Times of a ‘Turbulent Anarchist’ and Her Battle for Women’s Rights by Denise George (South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2018 270pp. $34.95) ISBN: 9781743055960 in Lilith: A Feminist History Journal, Number 25, 2019, pp.109-110.

As a female who similarly migrated from Armagh to Adelaide, and who came to be interested in woman suffrage – researching and writing about it rather than having to actively campaign for it, thankfully – I have always been intrigued by the figure and life of Mary Lee. With this book, Denise George uses her considerable skills to flesh out the life of this little-known activist. What results is a beautifully written, interconnecting biography of Mary Lee with a history of South Australia and its woman suffrage movement.

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Research Pioneers 2: Heather Ingman and Clíona Ó Gallchoir

2018 saw the landmark publication of Heather Ingman and Clíona Ó Gallchoir’s A History of Modern Irish Women’s Literature. Featuring 22 chapters that address women’s writing from the early modern period to the present, the volume makes a rich intervention not only in Irish Studies but in women’s literary history. The volume, the editors note, ‘complicates and enriches our understanding of the Irish canon by retrieving forgotten writers, placing well-known authors in new contexts and allowing readers to trace patterns and developments in women’s writing across periods and languages.’ (Irish Times) We are delighted that Ó Gallchoir and Ingman agreed to answer a few questions about the project. 

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IASIL 2019 – ‘The Critical Ground’ and Women’s Literary History

Anna Pilz

Over the course of a week in late July 2019, close to 300 scholars gathered at Trinity College Dublin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures’. Under the theme of ‘Critical Ground’, delegates and participants reflected on the developments of Irish literary studies over the past fifty years, discussed the latest developments in the field and sketched out ambitions and new directions for the future. 

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