Ireland’s foremost female writers of the nineteenth century, Edith Somerville and Martin Ross, advocated the ‘High Art of Comedy’ during the period of transition and turbulence in the Irish countryside. This critical biography of their collaboration from 1890 to Martin Ross’s death in 1915 studies the self-conscious artistry of the creators of the finest novel of the nineteenth century The Real Charlotte (1894). It considers the influence of both popular culture and high art in the treatment of the volatile Irish landscape and looks for the first time at the contexts of the immensely popular Irish R M stories and Edith Somerville’s accompanying illustrations. The writers’ sly send-ups of romantic notions of Irishness are revealed, while using certain expectations of a picturesque countryside to their own advantage. The book recontextualizes the writers’ fiction and illustrations through inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural methods by considering the influence of the visual arts, theatrical production, antiquarian study, and literature derived from Irish, British and European sources. In addition to Somerville and Ross’s interest in popular and elite art forms, the book stresses the writers’ all-consuming interest in land politics, suffragism, the Irish character and the Irish language, the workings of the law in the Irish countryside, and – above all – money and its lack in the small farms and cottages of Ireland.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Colonial Vision
1. Land: Naboth’s Vineyard and the Colonial Nightmare
2. Religion: The Real Charlotte and the Colonial Dream
Part Two: Contexts of The Irish RM
3. Money: The Business of Being Irish in the Periodical Period
4. Law: Harlequin in Ireland
Part Three: Landscaping in The Irish RM
5. History: Picturing the Past
6. Sport/Politics: The Treasure in the Bog
About the Author
Dr. Julie Anne Stevens lectures in English at Trinity College Dublin and St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. She has published various articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish writing. In 2002, she set up an exhibition on the manuscripts and illustrations of Edith Somerville and Martin Ross in Trinity College Library.