Brothers of the Quill: Oliver Goldsmith and Friends, London, 1757-64

Dear friends and colleagues,

This year’s Irish in Britain Seminar Series commences at London Metropolitan University next Thursday evening with:

Brothers of the Quill: Oliver Goldsmith and Friends, London, 1757-64

Prof. Norma Clarke, Kingston University, London

 This paper investigates some of the Irish writers in London who were friends or acquaintances of Oliver Goldsmith from the time he arrived in the city, penniless, in 1756 and began to make a successful career as a writer, first in Grub Street and then as a distinguished poet. It draws on research in Prof. Clarke’s new book, Brothers of the Quill: Oliver Goldsmith in Grub Street, due to be published in the spring. It argues that understanding Goldsmith as an Irish writer is essential to an understanding of his writings and it asks questions about what it meant to be an Irish writer in London in the period. Among those discussed in the book are Paul Hiffernan, Jack Pilkington, Edward Purdon, Samuel Derrick and Robert Nugent.

Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, Norma Clarke specializes in 18th century literature and has a particular interest in Irish writers in London during that period. Her 2008 book, Queen of the Wits, A Life of Laetitia Pilkington told the story of one such Irish writer, and her new book, Brothers of the Quill, Oliver Goldsmith in Grub Street, tells the story of several others.

Thursday 22 October

6.30 – 8.00 p.m       

 Attendance is FREE and there is no requirement to register in advance.

However, places are limited so please ensure you arrive early to guarantee a seat.

Room TM1-45, London Metropolitan University, Tower Building, 166-220 Holloway Road, N7 8DB

Tube: Holloway Road (Piccadilly line)

Buses: 43, 153, 263, 271, 393

How to get there:

Over the last three centuries, Irish migration to Britain has been marked by a number of recurring social and cultural characteristics. Personal experiences of migration, however, invariably reveal nuances and differences to these norms and encourage us to continually reassess our understanding and appreciation of what it means to leave one country and go to live and work in another. This year’s seminar series focuses on five prominent public figures in Britain and explores how migration became a formative and enduring influence on the shape of their careers and their sense of Irish identity.

The series continues as follows:

29 Oct:  Drama of Migration?: Nancy Harris and the Dublin and London Stage

Dr. Michelle Paull, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham


5 Nov:  Wild Irish Woman: The Life and Times of Charlotte Despard

Marian Broderick, independent scholar


12 Nov:  The Irishness of Francis Bacon

Bernard Canavan, independent scholar


19 Nov: Jerry O’Neill: publican, playwright, novelist & founder of The Sugawn Theatre, Balls Pond Road

Prof. Ken Worpole, London Metropolitan University


The Irish Studies Centre has provided a forum for teaching, learning and research since 1986. The Irish in Britain Seminar Series offers an opportunity for members of the public as well as students and scholars to debate and disseminate the latest research on Ireland, migration and the diaspora.

For further information contact Tony Murray: