Daniel O'Connell, The British Press and The Irish Famine: Killing Remarks, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Daniel O'Connell, The British Press and The Irish Famine

Killing Remarks, 1st Edition

By Leslie A. Williams


398 pages

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Hardback: 9780754605539
pub: 2003-06-06
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Through an investigation of the reportage in nineteenth-century English metropolitan newspapers and illustrated journals, this book begins with the question 'Did anti-O'Connell sentiment in the British press lead to "killing remarks," rhetoric that helped the press, government and public opinion distance themselves from the Irish Famine?' The book explores the reportage of events and people in Ireland, focussing first on Daniel O'Connell, and then on debates about the seriousness of the Famine. Drawing upon such journals as The Times, The Observer, the Morning Chronicle, The Scotsman, the Manchester Guardian, the Illustrated London News, and Punch, Williams suggests how this reportage may have effected Britain's response to Ireland's tragedy. Continuing her survey of the press after the death of O'Connell, Leslie Williams demonstrates how the editors, writers and cartoonists who reported and commented on the growing crisis in peripheral Ireland drew upon a metropolitan mentality. In doing so, the press engaged in what Edward Said identifies as 'exteriority,' whereby reporters, cartoonists and illustrators, basing their viewpoints on their very status as outsiders, reflected the interests of metropolitan readers. Although this was overtly excused as an effort to reduce bias, stereotyping and historic enmity - much of unconscious - were deeply embedded in the language and images of the press. Williams argues that the biases in language and the presentation of information proved dangerous. She illustrates how David Spurr's categories or tropes of invalidation, debasement and negation are frequently exhibited in the reports, editorials and cartoons. However, drawing upon the communications theories of Gregory Bateson, Williams concludes that the real 'subject' of the British Press commentary on Ireland was Britain itself. Ireland was used as a negative mirror to reinforce Britain's own commitment to capitalist, industrial values at a time of great internal stress.


'This is an excellent book on an important subject. Here, the late Professor Leslie A. Williams brings her sharp sensibilities as an art historian to bear upon the social, economic, and human history of both Ireland and England in the years immediately preceding, during, and following the Great Irish Famine - or Great Hunger , as many Irish people prefer to call it - of 1845-51.' Irish Studies Review '… a fresh and valuable contribution to what had begun to seem an overworked field.' Albion '… [a] fine study… Williams provides an important contribution to famine historiography and to understanding the British press in the nineteenth century.' American Historical Review '… a substantial addition to both periodical criticism and the history of British-Irish relations.' Victorian Periodicals Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; The Times, O'Connell and repeal ” 1843; Punch, 'rint' and 'repale' ” 1843; Traversers and priests ” 1844-1845; 'The commissioner' ” 1845; Imagining a famine/Imaginary famine ” 1845; 'The battlefield of contending factions' ” January to June, 1846; Parsing Pharaoh's dream ” July to December 1846; 'A Transition of Great Difficulty' ” January to March 1847; The death of Daniel O'Connell ” May 1847; 'A conspiracy against life': June to December 1847; Charles Trevelyan and the 'great opportunity' ” January 1848; The uprising at Boulagh ” 1848; A dream of the future ”1849; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Leslie A. Williams, author of Daniel O'Connell, the British Press, and Killing Remarks, was an art historian specializing in the Victorian period. At the time of her death she was Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities at Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio. William H. A. Williams, editor, is historian and author of 'Twas Only an Irishman's Dream: The Image of the Irish and Ireland in American Popular Song Lyrics, 1800-1920. He is member of the faculty of the College of Undergraduate Studies, Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, Ohio

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature