Two new books about the runaway slave who became Lord Edward FitzGerald’s servant

Laura McKenna has written a historical fiction book on the same topic as Neil Jordan’s

A portrait of Tony Small, commissioned by Edward FitzGerald and painted by Thomas Roberts in 1786

A portrait of Tony Small, commissioned by Edward FitzGerald and painted by Thomas Roberts in 1786

This month Lilliput Press publishes The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small by Neil Jordan while across the Liffey New Island has just published Words to Shape My Name by newcomer Laura McKenna. Both novels fictionalise the story of a real-life historical figure Tony Small. Small was the servant of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, a progressive Irish aristocrat who renounced his privileges to fight for Irish independence in the 1798 rebellion.

Whatever about turning up to a wedding in the same outfit as somebody else, discovering you have just written the same novel as someone else must rank right up there as a debut author’s worst nightmare. You spend years researching, writing and crafting your novel, only to find another author has been doing the very same thing. And not just any other author, but a highly respected, experienced author who also happens to be an Oscar-winning film director. It’s enough to make anyone weep into their manuscript.

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