Eva [Selina] Gore-Booth (1870-1926)

sister of Con Markievicz, and subject of Yeats’s poem; b. Lissadell, 22 May 1870; dg. Sir Henry Gore-Booth; accompanied her father to West Indies and America, 1894; accompanied mother to Italy, 1895, fell ill with suspected TB; stayed at villa of George MacDonald, novelist, and met there Esther Roper, 1896; social worker in Manchester with Roper, who was suffrage union organiser; life-long companions; she lobbied personally for the reprieve of Roger Casement; joined No Conscription Fellowship;
650 pages of poetry posthumously collected; Unseen Kings, a verse drama, rejected by Irish National Theatre Soc. as unstageable [birds flying cross-stage]; influenced by Celtic Twilight, graceful and conventional; Poems with intro. by Esther Roper (1929); plays, The Triumph of Maeve, Lament for Deirdre, and The Sword of Justice; her pacifism and the power of love are her perennial themes; She is included among R. M. Fox’s Rebel Irishwomen (1935). PI DBIV DIL ODQ ATT OCIL FDA

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to Irish activist Eva Gore-Booth, the sister of Constance Markievicz, describing her as ‘a remarkable, indeed quite extraordinary, figure, not just in Ireland’s revolution, but also in the international trade union, suffrage and peace movements’. [...] (Irish Times, 14 Oct. 2016 - online.)

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  • Poems (London: Longmans & Co. 1898).
  • Poems of Eva Gore-Booth: Complete Edition, with “The Inner Life of the Child”, Letters, and Biographical Introduction by Esther Roper (London: Longmans & Co. 1929), ports.
  • Ester Roper, ed., Selected Poems of Eva Gore-Booth (London: Longmans & Co. 1931).

See also Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, ed., Voices on the Wind: Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight (Dublin: New Island 1995).

  • Unseen Kings, a play in verse (London: Longmans & Co. 1904).
  • The One and the Many (London: Longmans & Co. 1904).
  • The Three Resurrections and The Triumph of Maeve, poems and a drama in verse (London: Longmans & Co. 1905).
  • The Egyptian Pillar [Tower Press Booklets, ser. 2 No.3] (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1907).
  • The Sorrowful Princess (London: Longmans & Co. 1907); The Agate Lamp (London: Longmans & Co. 1912).
  • The Perilous Light [Twentieth Century Poetry Series] (London: Erskine MacDonald 1915).
  • The Death of Fionavar, from The Triumph of Maeve (London: Erskine MacDonald 1916), 87pp., ill. [by Countess Markievicz].
  • Broken Glory (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1917) [var. 1918].
  • The Sword of Justice (London: Headley Bros. 1918).
  • The Shepherd of Eternity (1925).
  • The House of Three Windows (London: Longmans & Co. 1926).
  • The Buried Life of Deirdre (1930).
  • A Psychological and Poetic Approach of Christ in the Fourth Gospel (1923).
  • The Inner Kingdom (London: Longmans & Co. 1926).
  • The Word’s Pilgrim (London: Longmans & Co. 1927).
  • Women Workers and Parliamentary Representation (Lancashire and Cheshire Women Textile and Other Workers Representative Committee (c.1904).
  • Women’s Right to Work (Manchester c.1908).
  • ‘Women and the Suffrage’, in Living Age, 259 (1908).
  • The Case for Women’s Suffrage [Religious Aspects of Non-Resistance - League of Peace] (London: Fisher & Unwin 1915).

See also articles and poems in Esther Roper, ed., Prison Letters of Countess Markievicz [?rep.] (1986).

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  • Michael Begnal, ‘Eva Gore-Booth on Behalf of Roger Casement: An Unpublished Appeal’, in Éire-Ireland, 6, 1 (Spring 1971), pp.11-16 [infra].
  • Gifford Lewis, Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper, a Biography (Lon. 1988).
  • Rosangela Barone, 2 vols., The Oak Tree and the Olive Tree: The true dream of Eva Gore-Booth (Bari [Italy]: Edizione dal Sul 1990), [graphicl presentation by Glauco Lendàro Càmiless; a study of Eva Gore-Booth as seen through her poetry].
  • Frederick S. Lapisardi, ed., The Plays of Eva Gore-Booth (Mellen Press, 1991) [infra].
  • Emma Donoghue, ‘How could I fear and hold thee by the hand’: The Poetry of Eva Gore Booth’, in Éibhear Walshe, ed., Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing (Cork UP 1997), pp.16-42.
  • Cathy Leeney, ‘The Spaces Outside: Images of Women in Plays by Eva Gore-Booth and Dorothy Macardle’, in Women in Irish Drama: A Century of Authorship and Representation, ed. Melissa Sihra (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2007), q.pp.
  • Cathy Leeney, ‘Seva Gore-Booth: Staging the Dream’, in Irish Women Playwrights - 1900-1939 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 2010), pp.59-96.

See also Therese Ryan, ‘Eva Gore-Booth’ [MA Dissertation] (UUC 1992); Katie Donovan, review of Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, ed., Voices on the Wind: Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight, in The Irish Times (10 Sept. 1995), [infra]; and Dermot James, The Gore-Booths of Lissadell ([Dublin:] Woodfield Press 2004), 400pp.

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W. B. Yeats
, ‘Miss Eva Gore-Booth shows some promise as a writer of verse. Her work is very formless as yet but full of very telling little phrases. Lissadell is an exceedingly impressive house inside with a great sitting room as high as a church and all things are in good taste ... But outside grey, square and bare yet set amid delightful grounds’ (Letters, ed. Wade, p.239-40), ‘Miss Gore Booth’s little poem about the roads is charming and delights my conscience ... I like the poem about the wise dead under the grass and the strong gone over the sea, but it leaves my conscience hungry.’ (Letter to AE, in Letters of WB Yeats, ed. Allen Wade, 1954), pp. 433-35. According to Esther Roper, her poetry reflects the ‘chronicle of her inner development’ from the ‘dreamy mysticality of Celtic poetry and legends’ to the ‘lofty Christian mysticism’ of her final two volumes.

“In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz”

The light of evening, Lissadell
Great windows open to the south
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

—W. B. Yeats, Collected Poems, [2nd Edn.] (1950), p.263.

Note: Eva’s play The Buried Life of Deirdre (1930) deals with the conflict between “the possessive and exclusive passion of love,” represented by the God Angus, and “the freedom and universality of love”, represented by Mannanan.’ [T. Ryan, MA Thesis, draft].

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[Q.a.], Irish Book Lover, 6, 7 (1915), report on ‘Irish Literary Society 20th January [1915]’: ‘... Miss Eva Gore-Booth gave a delightful reading from her fine dramatic poem, the Triumph of Maeve, which was listened to with rapt attention and frequently applauded. the reader by way of preface acknowledged that she had taken liberties with the usually received versions of the legend, but claimed that whilst treating historical subjects in poetic forms, facts should be rigorously adhered to, yet myths or legends lent themselves and had always been treated with a wide poetical license. She had placed her own construction on the actions of the characters as they appeared to her, from her study of the available sources of information. Miss Hickey could not agree with the line taken by her fellow poetess, which placed her heroes, Fergus and Cuchillin, in an altogether lower place than any of the legends warranted, at the same time bearing testimony to the poetic beauty of the piece and the charm of the interspersed lyrics. Other speakers followed.’ (p.111).

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T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats (London: Methuen 1950, 1965): ‘It is also interesting to compare the work of Yeats with that of Eva Gore-Booth: both working in a common country background, both with the same ideals of Irish nationalism. He says that he underrates her poems, “because the dominant mood in many of them is one I have fought in myself to put down. In my Land of Heart’s Desire, and in some of my lyric verse of that time, there is an exaggeration of sentiment and sentimental beauty which I have come to think unworthy.’ (Letters, Wade, p.434; here p.115.)

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Michael Begnal, writes ‘Miss Gore-Booth had thrown herself into the social and political fight of Ireland's women for equal rights and decent and tolerable working conditions - a struggle in which she was a leading figure throughout her life. Perhaps the first of the Irish Women Liberationalists, though not quite as vocal as Bernadette Devlin, she and her associate Esther Roper were active in organizing meetings and protests which sought to alleviate the oppression of women throughout Ireland and the British Isles. A poetess and painter as well, Miss Gore-Booth spoke out against intolerance and injustice wherever she found it, and it is small wonder that she and Miss Roper attempted to alleviate the plight of [Roger] Casement. As a biographer of Countess Markiewicz expresses it: “these two women were never content merely to sympathize with friends in danger or distress. Benevolent action was the main spring of their lives.”’ (p.12 in Bengal, ‘Eva Gore-Booth on Behalf of Roger Casement: An Unpublished Appeal’, in Éire-Ireland, 6, 1, Spring 1971, pp.11-16.)

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Frederick S. Lapisardi, ed., The Plays of Eva Gore-Booth (Mellen Press, 1991) contains 5 ‘well-wrought, actable plays drawing sometimes on same material as Yeats, Lady Gregory [&c.]’, with introductions, bibliography, appendices incl. relevant notes from 1929 Poems, materials from a rare 1916 edited version of a longer play, and a chronology; editor remarks on ‘well wrought, actable plays drawing sometimes on same material as Yeats, Lady Gregory [&c.]’.

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Katie Donovan, in review of Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, ed., Voices on the Wind: Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight (Dublin: New Island 1995), in Irish Times [10 Sept. 1995], remarks upon Gore-Booth's welcome range of subjects, from reincarnation to the art of writing and the presumption of landlords; ‘her style has a grace that is rarely pretension’; cites ‘The Weaver Child’, of a child raised healthy and forced to work elsewhere; ‘Once did I labour at the living stuff/That holds the fire, the water and the wind;/Now do I weave the garments coarse and rough/That some vain men nave made for vain mankind.’

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The Triumph of Maeve, a verse play in Poems (ed. Esther Roper, 1929), dated Nov. 1902, includes a prefatory poem: ‘I have seen Maeve of the Battles wandering over the hill / And I know that the deed in my heart is her deed / For always the living must follow whither the dead would lead ...’. The poem has the same rhythm as Yeats’s “Red Hanrahan’s Song About Ireland” and may be read as an answer to its theme of resurgent patriotism; however, the second stanza offers a pacifist riposte. In the play itself, Maeve conquers by abandoning her crown and espousing peace, finding that this is the kind of triumph of which she has dreamed. Of the two sisters, Constance and Eva, Esther Roper writes that ‘though one believed in the use of armed force, and the other profoundly disbelieved in it, they were real friends’ (see Preface.) In her letters to Constance when the latter was in prison: ‘The word is our confederate / The Night has left the doors ajar / We meet beyond the earth’s barred gates / Where all the world’s wild rebels are.’ In a poem of 1914, Eva wrote: ‘Eternal Rebel, sad and old and blind / Both with a chain, enslaved by every one / Of the dark gods who hide the summer sun / Yet art thou still the Savior of Mankind // Free soul of fire, break down their chains and bars / Drive out the wicked phantoms of the brain / Tell every living thing be friends again/And our lost earth true comrade to the skies’. Eva was born, according to Roper, near Knocknarea - Maeve’s Hill. (See Therese Ryan, MA thesis, UUC.)

Easter Week
  Grief for the noble dead
Of one who did not share their strife,
And mourned that any blood was shed,
Yet felt the broken glory of their state,
Their strange heroic questioning of Fate
Ribbon with gold the rags of this our life.

Given in Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-1945 (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2008), p.31.

See also her birthday poem to Con Markievicz [Constance Gore-Booth] in prison on her birthday in 1917, under Countess Markievicz - as attached.

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British Library
holds, Poems, with biog. sketch by Esther Roper, and portrait (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1929), xx+653pp.; The Agate Lamp (London 1912), 118pp.; Broken Glory (Maunsel 1918), poems; The Buried Life of Deirdre (1930), xi+62pp.; Egyptian Pillar (Maunsel 1907), 50pp.; House of Three Wonders [poems], with a portrait (1926), xvi+113pp.; The Inner Kingdom, religious address (London 1926); The Perilous Light [poems] (London 1915), 64pp.; Psychological and Poetic Approach to the Study of Christ in the Fourth Gospel (Longmans 1923), xv+363pp.; Shepard of Eternity and other poems (Longmans 1923), x+121pp.; The Sorrowful Princess, [verse drama] (London 1907), 92pp.; Sword of Justice, play, [1918], 38pp.; The Three Resurrections and The Triumph of Maeve, poems and drama in verse (1905), 288pp.; Death of Fionvar from The Triumph of Maeve, decorated by Constance Gore-Booth, Countess Markiewicz (London 1916), 87pp.; Unseen Kings [poems] (London 1904), 87pp.; The World’s a Pilgrim, imaginary conversations (Longmans 1927), viz. Buddha and Pythagoras, Francis of Assisi, Giordano Bruno, Michelangelo and Pheidias, et al., 5, 3-117 [1]p.; Selected Poems, biographical note by Esther Roper (1933), 156pp.

Ann Owens Weekes, ed., Attic Guide to Published Works of Irish Women Literary Writers; lived in England 1914-1916 and returned to visit her sister in prison on the day when Connolly was executed; Sec. Women’s Textile and Other Workers’ Representation Committee; ed. The Women's Labour News;

Oxford Dictionary of Quotation selects ‘The Little Waves of Breffny go stumbling through the soul’. Also in Voices on the Wind, Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight (New Island Books 1995), 144pp. ALSO, included in Eilis Ní Dhuibhne, Voices on the Wind, Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight (New Island Books 1995) [with Katharine Tynan; Susan Mitchell; Nora Chesson Hopper; Ethna Carbery; Dora Sigerson Shorter].

Anthologies: A. P. Graves, ed., The Book of Irish Poetry (1914), ed.; George Russell, ed., New Songs (1904) [with Fitzhenry, Morton, A. P. Graves, Padraic Gregory, John Cooke, Katherine Hoagland, and Tynan].

Belfast Public Library holds Broken Glory (1902); Buried Life of Deirdre (1930); Poems of Eva Gore Booth (1929); Selected Poems (1933); Perilous Light (1915).

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Unseen Kings performed at the Abbey in 1911 by the Independent Dramatic Company, run by Countess Markievicz; though rejected by INTS.

The Sorrowful Princess, a verse drama, makes use of from E. A. Wallis Budge’s Egyptian Book of the Dead [1904] - a text also famously used by James Joyce in research for Finnegans Wake.

Prison Letters (p.56) contains an article by Eva Gore-Booth in the Socialist Review attempting to explain to an English audience the reasons behind the 1916 Rising and the result of the executions appeared. (See Therese Ryan, MA thesis, UUC.)

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Lissadell House (1): The Gore Booth family home, Lissadell House in Co. Sligo, was built by Sir Robert Gore-Booth, who improved a wild estate and made it a model for other landlords. He owned a Stradavarius, which he played at concerts in London. His second-son, Henry William Gore-Booth, was a passionate Arctic sailer. (See The Gore-Booths of Lissadell, Woodfield Press 2004, reviewed by Maurice Harmon in Books Ireland, May 2005, p.120.)

Lisadell House (2) Aengus Gore-Booth, the last member of the family, died in 1995; the house was acquired by Edward Walsh and his wife Constance Cassidy, Irish lawyers, in 1999, and later reopened to the public during August-October annually. In 2010 it became the venue for a rock-concert thus far in the footsteps of Slane Castle, Co. Meath, and Mountcharles, Co. Donegal.

Lissadell House (3): ‘Lissadell owners turn down €1.1 grant’ (The Irish Times, Sat. 15 July 2006, p.7), Marese McDonagh reporting from Sligo: her story reports that Edward Walsh S.C. and his barrister wife Constance Cassidy, who bought the Lissadell house and estate in 1999, have redeveloped the garden formerly filled with up to 250 varieties of daffodils established by Sir Jocelyn, br. of Constacne Gore-Booth (Markievicz). Besides Sir Jocelyn's bulb nursery, the Gore-Booths ran a saw-mill, oyster darm and needle-work school on the estate. The grant proffered by the Minstry of Tourism (John O'Donoghue, FF) was refused due to conditions attached to it. The Walshes report 20,000 visitors to the garden annually at present and aim for 100,000.

Lissadell (3): Lissadell House became the venue for a Westlife rock-concert, with Leonard Cohen in support, in 31 July 2010. Cohen professed himself ‘honoured to be in such a historical setting’ and recited W. B. Yeats: ‘The light of evening, Lissadell , great windows open to the south, ...’ (See Lissadell House online > Cohen; accessed 21.08.2009. In the same period the owners were in contention with locals about a right of way to the shore.

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