Emily Lawless is one of the most important of Ireland’s forgotten women writers. From a Protestant ascendancy background, she combined nationalist feelings with unionist sympathies. This important new study argues that her own term, “interspace”, can be used to explain her vision of Ireland and her position as an Anglo-Irish woman writer determined to resist categorization or stock solutions at a time of polarization and cultural transition.
This is the first comprehensive study of the writing of Emily Lawless (1845–1913) and includes biographical information, letters, and contemporary reception as well as analyses based on present-day theoretical approaches, especially feminist criticism and cultural geography.
The study begins with a presentation of Lawless’s family background, her social circle and a description of her literary career, including how her works have been received up until the present. Her early fiction, novels and stories set outside Ireland are then explored and successive chapters deal with her landscape writing and her novels about the west of Ireland, her negotiations with the voice of authority in historical and biographical writing, her historical fiction and her three collections of poetry. The concluding chapter argues that the contradictory aspects of her writing are an effect of her desire to avoid categorization.