Irish Literary Studies series 21
The years 1800-1850 saw the emergence in Ireland of a number of novelists and story writers who took as their subject matter their native country, its people and its social, economic, and political problems. Their pioneering work is not only a unique record of life in rural Ireland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before the disasters of the great famine in the 1840s changed many things irreversibly; it also initiated a tradition of Anglo-Irish fiction which, in the twentieth century has achieved international stature and recognition.
This book examines the origins of that tradition and the particular circumstances, both literary and social, from which the earliest Anglo-Irish fiction sprang. It is comprehensive in scope, considering not only the major writers – Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, the Banim brothers, Gerald Griffin, and William Carleton – but also lesser figures such as Charles Maturin, Mrs S. C. Hall, Samuel Lover, the early work of Charles Lever and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and other minor contributors. This inclusiveness helps to generate a picture of the diversity of theme and character found in the novels, and illustrates how effectively the texture of certain aspects of Irish life is evoked in them. There is also a chronology for the period from 1767, the year of Maria Edgeworth’s birth, up to 1850. It sets the lives and works of the novelists discussed in this book against the literary, social and political contexts of their times, both in Ireland and abroad.