Irish women poets from Líadan to the present

Review: Romantic-Era Irish Women Poets in English and A History of Irish Women’s Poetry

Poets Nuala Ni Dhomhnail (left) and Eavan Boland at a poetry reading celebration by Irish women poets marking  International Women’s Day in 1983. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Poets Nuala Ni Dhomhnail (left) and Eavan Boland at a poetry reading celebration by Irish women poets marking International Women’s Day in 1983. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Romantic-Era Irish Women Poets in English, edited by Stephen Behrendt, Cork University Press, 613pp, €39; A History of Irish Women's Poetry, edited by Ailbhe Darcy and David Wheatley, Cambridge University Press, 476pp, £84.99

In 1791, two women in Dublin corresponded in iambic tetrameter couplets. Henrietta Battier, a published poet later to become a well-known satirist, wrote to Eliza Ryan, praising her poem Contentment. In subsequent letters, each woman commended the other’s poetry as superior to her own, so that in a sequence of 10 epistles, each saw her own work applauded whenever a new letter arrived.

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