Irish Feminisms, 1810–1930  book cover
1st Edition

Irish Feminisms, 1810–1930

Edited By

Mary Pierse

ISBN 9780415475297
Published February 1, 2010 by Routledge
2570 Pages

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Book Description

Co-published by Routledge and Edition Synapse, the History of Feminism series makes key archival source material readily available to scholars, researchers, and students of women’s and gender studies, women’s history, and women’s writing, as well as those working in allied and related fields. Selected and introduced by an expert editor, the gathered materials are reproduced in facsimile, giving users a strong sense of immediacy to the texts and permitting citation to the original pagination.

This new title in the series brings together a unique selection of the multiple feminisms articulated by Irish writers between 1810 and 1930, a ‘long Victorian’ period. The five volumes foreground a multiplicity of beliefs and attitudes from novels, poetry, short stories, newspaper and journal articles, and essays, both by relatively unknown and by more celebrated writers (such as Lady Gregory, Lady Wilde, and the Parnells). While the history of feminism consistently and universally reveals conflicting interpretations of the female role in society, the situation in Ireland was significantly complicated by the backdrop of national uprisings, land war, world war, and the growing hegemony of a strongly religious patriarchy. In particular, the collection makes apparent the disparities of interest as writers confront, or covertly negotiate, the burning issues of education, suffrage, and participation in charitable work or politics.

Female frustrations, and collusion, with societal norms are documented in each of the thematically organized volumes. Volume I (‘Leading the Way’) includes key ideological articulations of Irish feminist beliefs. Volume II (‘Land and Labour’) is a collection of vital materials which show the intermeshing of women’s concerns with prevailing political turmoil. The question mark in the title of Volume III (‘Eire Abú?’ (‘Ireland Forever?’)) hints at the uncertainties facing women in any New Ireland. These fears are reflected in the materials reproduced in this volume, which contains work by the redoubtable Sheehy Skeffingtons, by the strongly feminist Haslams, and by Yeats’s beloved Maud Gonne. Nationalistic and feminist prose and poetry by sisters Countess Markievicz and Eva Gore-Booth—portrayed by Yeats as ‘one beautiful, the other a gazelle’—is also included in this volume. Bringing together extracts from biography, fiction, poetry and bitter-sweet drama, Volume IV (‘In the Real World’) is a repository of vital work which engaged with education, social and sexual mores, marriage, and religious life and the novel Callaghan is its fitting and concluding text. Finally, Volume V (‘Literary Approaches’) highlights disparate expressions of the evolving Irish attitudes to feminist issues, from the competing spheres of the convent and secular world (George Moore’s ‘The Exile’), to challenges to fixed notions of gender (K. C. Thurston’s Max). The sheer diversity of poetical contributions is fascinating.

Most texts in this collection have either not appeared at all since their first publication, or have never been reprinted in their entirety; the remainder have been extremely difficult to find. Their collocation and juxtaposition in these volumes provides a unique insight into a multiplicity of Irish feminisms, and vividly recreates the literary and historical climate in which they were written. With its comprehensive introductions, (which furnish vital background information), this ground-breaking collection is destined to be welcomed as a treasure-trove by all serious scholars and students of Gender and Irish Studies—as well as those working in Victorian and Literary Studies.

Table of Contents

Volume I: Leading the Way  Volume II: Land and Labour  Volume III: Éire Abú?  Volume IV: In the Real World  Volume V: Literary Approaches

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Mary Pierse teaches nineteenth-century literature courses at Ireland’s University College Cork. She is editor of George Moore: Artistic Visions and Literary Worlds (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2006) and has published articles on the writings of Moore, Kate Chopin and Arthur Conan Doyle, and on the modern Irish poets Dennis O’Driscoll and Cathal Ó Searcaigh. She is working on a monograph concerning literary impression, particularly in the writings of Moore.

Ann Walsh teaches in the Department of English at University College Cork, Ireland. She has delivered papers (in Oxford, Leicester, UCD, and Trinity College Dublin) on translation theory, on the poetry of Sylvia Plath, on the Language Poets, on religious influences in Robert Lowell’s poetry and on Lowell’s response to Boston and the Boston Irish. An English and Philosophy graduate, she is currently preparing a monograph arising from her doctoral research on translations and revisions in Lowell’s poetry.


'These monumental volumes are an immensely valuable source for researchers in all aspects of Irish women’s history, literature and culture; they are also highly pleasurable to read. The editor Mary Pierse has amply achieved her stated aim of gathering together the most ‘significant examples of the multiple forms and expressions of Irish feminisms’ and readers, students and scholars are in her debt for making available key archival sources previously not easily accessible. In pursuing this ‘purposely’ and engagingly ‘eclectic collection’, one is reminded that the issues fiercely debated and defended in these writings from 1810-1930 (whether equal opportunities for and among women; girls’ education; domestic violence; social inclusion) are now even more relevant, and the force of historical voices championing such rights even more valuable.' - Margaret Kelleher, An Foras Feasa, NUI Maynooth

‘an immensely valuable and engaging resource for researchers in nineteenth-century and twentieth-century Irish women’s history, literature, and culture...’  - Margaret Kelleher, Irish University Review, Volume 42, Issue 1

'Pierse shows a lively eye for the smaller detail ... The scale of editorial endeavour here [is] clearly immense and the achievement, including imaginative selections and meticulous textual detail, is warmly to be commended. The facsimile images add an important additional dimension, allowing readers, as Pierse had hoped, to 'absorb the immediacy of the text'.' - Margaret Kelleher, Irish University Review