23.6 x 15.6 cm.
William H. Gregory, to the extent that his name is familiar, is remembered merely as the husband of Lady Gregory, of Abbey Theatre and Irish Literary Revival fame. He contributed to this undeserved obscurity by failing to make the most of his undoubted abilities and by choosing as a bride a woman many years his junior who was to make the most of hers.
Yet in his lifetime he was a figure of sufficient prominence – politician, racing man, dilettante – to be included in the Vanity Fair series of portraits even before he went on to serve with great success as a colonial governor. Moreover, his career throws additional light on the problems of Irish landowners and MPs at a time when Ireland was again a central issue in British politics.
Author of the infamous ‘quarter-acre test' for relief during the famine, he paradoxically established an enviable reputation as a humane and progressive landlord, only to find himself at the end of his life an alien in his native land.
Professor Brian Jenkins has written a lively and interesting biography, setting his subject in the context of his position at the centre of Victorian life in Britain, and establishing Sir William as very much a personality in his own right.
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