Mrs S.C. Hall: A Literary Biography
21.6 x 13.8 cm. xii, 260 pp. 1997 Irish Literary Studies series (ISSN 0140-895X) volume 50
In 1829 Mrs S.C.Hall, an Irishwoman living in England, published a book of sketches set mainly in her native Wexford. Sketches of Irish Life and Character was an immediate success both with literary critics and the general public. A second series of Sketches appeared in 1831 and established Mrs Hall's reputation in England as an interpreter of Irish character. Her later works on Ireland – Lights and Shadows of Irish Life (1838), Stories of the Irish Peasantry (1840) and The Whiteboy (1845) – reinforced this view, and were very popular with her English and Scottish readers. She collaborated with her husband, the journalist Samuel Carter Hall, in the writing of a three-volume guide to Ireland, Halls' Ireland, its Scenery, Character, etc. (1841-43), and this too was accepted as an informed description of Irish life and character.
In fact, Mrs Hall wrote as an observer imbued with colonial attitudes who believed in the superiority of everything English. Out of a genuine love for Ireland, however, she wished to make the country better known and understood in England, and she hoped through her writings to cure the Irish people of their faults. What makes her work interesting is the fact that it displays a tolerance and a lack of bigotry that was unusual for its time, and that she is openly critical (especially in her novel The Whiteboy) of government mismanagement and misrule.
1. Ireland – 'The Great Mart of Fiction'; 2. Mrs Hall – Marriage and Markets; 3. Teaching – The Taste of the Times; 4. Sketches of Irish Life – The Voice of the Colonist; 5. Lights and Shadows – a melancholy book; 6. Stories of the Irish Peasantry – Correcting the 'evil habits of poor Pat'; 7. Halls' Ireland – 'Guidance for those who design to visit Ireland; 8. The Whiteboy –' 'A truly national novel'; 9. Three novelists with a common cause; 10. Assessments – then and now; Index.
Maureen Keane was educated at Dominican College, Eccles Street, Dublin, and University College, Dublin. After graduating with an M.A. she worked for a time as a teacher and then took up a career in journalism, first as a freelance and then as an editor. Returning to academic life, she received her Ph.D. from Maynooth College for a study of didacticism in the works of William Carleton, Mrs S.C.Hall and Charles Lever. This is her first book.