Culture Shock: Putting women’s writing on the wall
‘The Irish Times’ is publishing a poster of Irish women writers as a rebuke to the familiar men-only Irish Writers version. It’s a joke with a serious point
Never had it easy: it took Eimear McBride nearly a decade to get A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing into print
The mother of the Irish novel, Frances Sheridan, was brought up to be illiterate. Her father didn’t want her to be able to read, and her brothers had to teach her in secret. Many of the plays of the most striking Irish woman dramatist, Teresa Deevy, remain unproduced to this day. One of the most historically significant of Irish plays, Cathleen Ní Houlihan – the one of which WB Yeats asked the self-important question, “Did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?” – was largely written by an uncredited woman, Augusta Gregory.
Peig Sayers, one of the last great storytellers of the European oral tradition, is remembered chiefly as the founder of Irish misery lit. Molly Keane, one of the finest comic novelists of the 20th century, wrote under the gender-neutral name MJ Farrell and dropped off the radar for four decades until she finally re-emerged with the scintillating Good Behaviour.