Mary Anne Sadleir (1820-1903)

[née Madden; common err. Mary Sadlier]; b. 31 Dec., Cootehill, Co. Cavan; emig. Montreal, Canada, 1844, m. James Sadleir, who managed the Montreal branch of of D. & J. Sadleir, 1846; issued Willie Burke, or the Last Orphan in America (1850), in which Peter Burke is saved by the good example of a brother; New Lights, or Life in Galway: A Tale (1853), deals with the Irish famine and particularly condemns Protestant proselytism among the victims;
issued The Blake and the O’Flanagans (1855), a cautionary tale in which the apostate Blakes marry Protestants and die in agonies of apostasy and repentence; Bessy Conway; or, The Irish Girl in America (1861) follows the heroine on the poineer trail out west; moved to New York with her husband in the 1860s; contrib. La Belle Assemblée, London journal; ed. Poems of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, with intro. and biog. sketch by Mrs. J. Sadlier (Sadlier NY, 1869);
contrib. stories and serialised novels to Catholic weeklies; over 60 pop. novels with Irish backgrounds, including Hermit of the Rock of Cashel, the Confederate Chieftains, etc.; d. 5 April. PI DIB DIW DIL MKA JMC SUTH OCIL

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  • The Red Hand of Ulster: or the Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill (NY: Patrick Donahoe 1850)
  • The Blakes and the Flanagans: A Tale of Irish Life in the United States (NY: Kenedy 1855
  • NY: Sadlier 1858)
  • Elinor Preston, Scenes at Home and Abroad (Sadlier 1861 [1866]
  • Old and New, or Taste versus Fashion (NY: Sadlier 1862)
  • The Hermit of the Rocks, A Tale of Cashel (NY, Boston &
  • Montreal: Sadlier 1863), another edn. [1893]
  • The Daughter of Tyrconnell, A Tale of the Reign of James I (NY: Sadlier 1863)
  • Bessy Conway or the Irish Girl in America (NY: Sadlier 1863)
  • The Fate of Father Sheehy: A Tale of Tipperary, Eighty Years Ago (NY: Sadlier 1863)
  • Confessions of an Apostate, or Leaves from a Troubled Life (1864
  • rep. 1977)
  • Con O’Regan, or Emigrant Life in the New World (NY: Sadlier 1864)
  • The Old House by the Boyne, or Recollections of an Irish Borough (NY: Sadlier 1865)
  • Aunt Honor’s Keepsake, A Chapter from Life (NY: Sadlier 1865)
  • The Heiress of Kilorgan, or Evenings with the Old Geraldines (NY: Sadlier 1867)
  • MacCarthy More, or The Fortunes of an Irish Chief in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth [Parlour and College Library Series] (NY: Sadlier 1868)
  • Maureen Dhu, the Admiral’s Daughter, A Tale of the Claddagh (NY: Sadlier 1870)
  • Alice Riordan, the Blind Man’s Daughter (Donahoe, Boston 1851)
  • O’Byrne, or the Expatriated (NY: Wildermann 1898)
  • The Minister’s Wife and Other Stories (NY: Wildermann 1898)
  • The Confederate Chieftains, A Tale of Irish Rebellion 1641 (Sadlier 1868 [1860])
  • New Lights; or, Life in Galway: A Tale (NY: Sadlier 1853, 1867)
  • Willie Burke, or the Last Orphan in America (NY: Donahoe 1850) [var. Willy]
Note: Above list supplied by Maureen Murphy; variations in Stephen Brown, Catholic Fiction, in square brackets.

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  • Benjamin, or the Pupil of the Christian Brothers, trans. (1852);
  • Doctrinal and Scriptural Cathecism, trans. from P. Collet (1858);
  • Idleness, or the Double Lesson and Other Tales [The Youth’s Catholic Library Series], trans. (NY 1862];
  • The Rules of Christian Politeness, trans from St. John, Baptist (1862);
  • The Vendetta, and Other Tales, trans. [The Youth’s Catholic Library Series] (NY 1862);
  • The Pope’s Niece and Other Tales, trans. [The Youth’s Catholic Library Series] (NY 1862);
  • The Talisman: A Drama in One Act (NY 1863);
  • The Year of Mary, ed., and part trans. from Menghi d’Arville [1865];
  • Tales and Stories, trans. from J. A. Walsh (1866);
  • The Babbler: A Drama for Boys, in one act, adapted from French (NY 1868);
  • The Secret: A Drama (London: R. Washbourne 1880);
  • The Knout, a tale of Poland, trans. from French (Dublin: Gill & Son 1884);
  • The Castle of Roussillon, trans. from La Rochère (1884);
  • Alice Riordan: The Blind Man’s Daughter (Dublin: Gill & Son 1884);
  • As Good as Gold, trans. from W. Herchenbach (1890).

Internet: The “Mary Ann Sadleir Archive” at Virginia University is maintained by Liz Szabo [online].

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Charles Fanning, The Exiles of Erin: Nineteenth-Century Irish-American Fiction (Notre Dame UP 1987); The Irish Voice in America: Irish-American Fiction from the 1760s to the 1980s (Lexington: Kentucky UP 1990) [Supplied by Barbara Jahrling].

Marjorie Elizabeth Howes, ‘Discipline, Sentiment, and the Irish-American Public: Mary Ann Sadlier's Popular Fiction’, in √Čire-Ireland [Irish-American Cultural Institute], 40:1&2 (Spring/Summer 2005), pp. 140-69.

Note: Sadleir is briefly cited in Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11], p.466.

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Maureen Murphy, ‘The Irish Servant Girl in Literature’, in Writing Ulster, 5 (1998), pp.133-47, quoting: ‘Ah! Winny poor Winny! I’m afeared it’s what you left yourself bare and naked to send money home! And I suppose it’s often the same story might be told of them that sends home money to Ireland.’ (Con O’Regan Sadlier, 1854, p.50; here p.139.) Murphy comments: ‘Sadlier uses her favorite device of contrasting good and bad behavior with appropriate rewards and punishments: the loyal, industrious and sensible Bessy Conway who saves her family and marries well versus the flighty Mary Murphy who is given [to] flashy dressing and going to dances and who makes an unfortunate marriage. / Going to Ireland and marrying the landlord’s son are rewards indeed, but Mrs. Sadlier’s sentimental novels reward and punish on a rather lavish scale.’ (ibid., p.140).

Daithí Ó hÓgáin, The Hero in Irish Folk History (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1985) - on folk-lore in nineteenth-century Irish literature: ‘anotehr good test-case is provided by Mary Anne Sadlier’s the fate of Father Sheehy, which tells in novel form how the patriot priest was condemned and hanged in Clonmel in 1766. Mistress Sadlier’s source was the research carried out by Richard Madden, largely from popular folk memory, but she made hardly any creative use of the folk motifs.’ (p.316.)

Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006): ‘Only some of the Irish-American fiction made its way back into Ireland: Mrs J. Sadlier’s works, for example, which were first published in Montreal and Boston, were republished by Duffy in Dublin. Otherwise, most of Irish-American fiction appears to have had no direct impact on Irish readers.’ (p.lix.)

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D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); listed as Sadleir; married D. J. Sadleir, a well-known American publisher [JMC knows better, infra]; identifies her as “M- Cootehill” who wrote a poem in The Nation, 9 March 1884, also ‘numerous Irish tales’; a dg., Anna Theresa, borb in Montreal, Jan [19], 1854, author of poems and stories in US and Canadian journals, is listed separately. See also McKenna, Irish Literature, 1978, p.249.

Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904); is clear that she m. James Sadleir, yngr. partner of D & J Sadleir, and manager of Montreal branch; and that the family removed to New York in 1860; McCarthy gives extract from MacCarthy More, ‘The Marriage of Florence MacCarthy More’, with a a footnote, ‘The marriage scene related [here] is historical. To prevent the union [which would consolidate the McCarthys] the political advisers of Queen Elizabeth had exercised their utmost ingenuity … the marriage … was treated as an act of treason by Queen Elizabeth’; in the text, Ellen’s mother addresses her in Irish (”Aileen!”), ‘the language they generally spoke to one another’.

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919); b. 1820 Cootehill, d. 1903; went to Canada 1844; her ‘grand object’ was ‘the illustration of our holy Faith’. Brown lists The Fate of Father Sheehy (Dublin: Duffy 1845), 178pp, and appendix, 76pp., also ed. (NY Benziger n.d.) [the judicial murder in Clonmel, 1766]; Willy Burke (Dublin: Duffy [1850], 224pp. [held to be her best work by Boston reviewer, see IF2]; New Lights, or Life in Galway (NY: Sadlier [1853]), 443pp. [peasant life in Famine times, their virtues; souperism, landlordism, evictions]; The Blakes and the Flanagans (Dublin: Duffy [1855]; Sadlier 1878; NY: Kenedy 1909) [lower middle class Irish in NY, evil effects of puboic education]; The Confederate Chieftains (Dublin: Gill [1859]), NY, Benziger n.d.), 384pp. [historical romance from Catholic standpoint]; Bessy Conway, or the Irish Girl in America (NY: Kenedy [1861], 316pp. [influence of religion on character ‘the never-failing path to success in this life and happiness in the next’; to servant-girls; Bessy converts landlord’s son to Catholicism on boat to America, marries, and succeeds in NY]; The Red Hand of Ulster, or the Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill (Lon. & Dub. [1862]), no copy in BML; The Hermit of the Rock (Dublin: Gill [1863]), 320pp. [Irish society in the 1860s, a hermit tends the graves on the rock, an Irish Old Mortality, storehouse of legend and tradition; murder, mystery and sensation]; The Daughter of Tyrconnell, a Tale of the Reign of James I (Dublin: Duffy; Kenedy [1863], 160pp. [Mary O’Donnell, dg. of exiled Earl, James wishing her to marry a Protestant; escapes to convent on continent; founded on tradition recorded in MacGeoghegan’s History of Ireland; Mary the good, James the bad]; Simon Kerrigan, or the Confessions of an Apostate (1864; Boston & Montreal, also Duffy), 252pp. [Irish farmer’s son emigrates, marries dg. of Protestant deacon; misfortunes; reverts to Catholicism and returns to die at Glendalough, purporting to be an MS found in his house, melodramatic]; Con O’Regan, or Emigrant Life (NY: Kenedy [1864], 1909), 405pp. [anti-emigration novel depicting emigrants’ hardships in New England in the ‘40s; does not conceal the faults of Catholics]; The Old House by the Boyne (Dublin: Gill [1865]; Lon 1888; new ed. NY: Benziger 1904), 319pp. [Drogheda, legendary lore, love interest, below authr’s standard]; The Heiress of Kilorgan [NY: Kenedy [1867], new ed. 1909), vi+420pp. [historical sketches with slight framestory; plan of Ferguson’s Hibernian Nights Entertainments; poor family at Maigue, Co. Limerick, descendants of Geraldines visited by Englishman who has bought the old court; fill-in material includes Mrs Hemans, Longfellow, and Griffin poems and songs; appx. contains Geraldine documents]; MacCarthy Mor (NY: Kenedy [1868]), 277pp. [based on Life and Letters by Daniel M’Carthy, McCarthy represented as Munster Machievel; various battles; Elizabeth, Cecil, Burleigh, Northern Earls, Súgan Earl, Sir Henry Power]; Maureen Dhu (NY Sadlier [1869]), 391pp. [Claddagh; how beautiful fisherman’s dg. is wooed and won by competing merchants of Galway city. IF2 adds, Mrs. James Sadlier, The Red Hand of Ulster, or the Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill (Boston, Donahoe, 1850).

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. 2, notes that the attribution of ‘Miscellanea Mystica’ to J. S. Le Fanu was made by M. Sadleir (p.210).

Robert Hogan, ed., A Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979): her work is interesting as an indication of what the uneducated homesick Irish American was reading.

John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Longmans 1988; rep. 1989); notes that Confessions of an Agnostic (1864) was frequently reprinted; Maureen Dhu (1869), set at Claddagh [Co. Galway], concerns the evils of emigration.

Belfast Public Library holds Fate of Father Sheehy (1864); Hermit of the Rock (n.d.); Old and New (1866); Old House by the Boyne (1945); Red Hand of Ulster (n.d.); Willy Burke (n.d.).

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