‘Power to Observe’: Irish Women Novelists in Britain, 1890-1916

By Whitney Standlee

Oxford: Peter Lang

278 pp. | ISBN 978-3-0343-1837-2 | £40.00

Irish women flourished in the publishing world at the turn of the twentieth century, and a number of the most popular and prolific of these authors chose to live and work in Britain. As expatriates, these women occupied a complex cultural space between Ireland and Britain from which they were able to observe the rapidly altering political landscape in their homeland and, in particular, the debates that concerned them as women.

This book examines the lives and literature of six Irish novelists – Emily Lawless, L. T. Meade, George Egerton, Katherine Cecil Thurston, M. E. Francis and Katharine Tynan – who lived and worked in Britain between the years 1890 and 1916, between them producing nearly 500 published works. Drawing on a range of their novels, this study explores their participation in the prevailing debates of the era: the Irish Question and the Woman Question.

This book was the winner of the 2013 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in Irish Studies.
Contents: Irish Women, British Politics, and the Novel – A View from ‘Both Sides’: Emily Lawless’s Rebellion Novels and the Irish Question – ‘You Can’t Have a Big World If You Only Just Know This Part’: The Critique of Cultural Insularity in the Novels of L. T. Meade – ‘No Country’ for Old Maids: Escaping Ireland in the Novels of George Egerton and Katherine Cecil Thurston – ‘Your Dream-Ireland Does Not Exist’: M. E. Francis, Catholicism, and the Irish Literary Establishment – ‘Affection for England and Love of Ireland’: The Altering Landscapes of Katharine Tynan – Writing about Ireland; Writing about Problems.

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