Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, with Anne Mullin Burnham, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), cxv, 1,489pp., ill.

Notes: The ensuing sections from the Introduction of this text have been copied in order to facilitate the compilation of records in respect of individual authors elsewhere in RICORSO. The text itself is not intended for public reading in this digital form and context and neither page-numbers nor footnote links have been provided. To read the authors’ notes open the separate file - attached - and size or move the resultant window.]


I. General Introduction
If there is a national art of a country, then literary fiction must surely qualify as the prime national art of Ireland. Four Irish authors, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney were awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in the twentieth century. In the nineteenth century, this national art is represented by well-known authors such as Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, William Carleton, Gerald Griffin, and Charles Maturin, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde, to mention only a few. Several Irish authors have become national icons, with their pictures on bank notes, plaques on the houses they lived in, dedicated memorial day (Bloomsday for James Joyce), summer seminars (Yeats, Joyce, Charles Kirkham, etc.), and numerous statues in various Irish cities. The portraits of Irish literary heroes inducted by acclaim into the pantheon of world-famous writers now adorn even the walls of Irish pubs around the world. In the scholarly literature, a large body of criticism has sprung up based on the studies of Irish literary figures and their works. [1], Yet, beyond well-known names the majority of Irish authors are little known nowadays despite making sometimes substantial contributions to Irish literature in the English language and to literature in general. A host of other authors, some with Irish ancestors, also contributed through their writings to the story of the Irish in Ireland and the Irish abroad. We agree with Leerssen (see his preface to the Guide), who wrote that ‘The two underlying assumptions on which literary history rests have lost credit: the self-justified importance and separate status of something like a canon based on artistic merit/importance, as well as the author as the premier organizing focus of literary praxis and of the analysis of literary praxis’.

In the spirit of Leerssen’s words, this Guide to Irish Fiction is different from earlier publications on Irish literature in that it attempts to reset the parameters of what is generally considered Irish fiction between 1650 and 1900 to expand dramatically the known number of Irish authors and their Irish and non-Irish works; and to extend the number of known books about the Irish and Ireland written by non-Irish writers.

When we began our exploration of Irish fiction, we did not know in advance that eventually we would end up with just under 6,000 titles (5,889) 2 and 1,455 authors. The contents of these volumes have been our companions for more than a decade, and have provided immense joy and puzzlement at the same time. [3] Our search for forgotten authors and their books was partly aimed at improving the profile of fiction in Irish literary history, but a large part of our motivation was to document literature as social and cultural history - in Lady Morgan’s words (see her statement above), to understand literary fiction as ‘a mirror of the times in which it was composed’. [4] In a similar vein, William Butler Yeats in his compilation of Representative Irish tales (New York, [1891]), said that he was ‘trying to make all the stories illustrations of some phase of Irish life, meaning the collection to be a kind of social history.’ [5]. Fiction is the closest that we can ever come to understand, through the words of authors, how people in the past thought and acted in all types of contexts. Works of fiction provide evidence of places of the past, occupations and manners, and the condition of society. [6] These books also give multiple details about material culture, popular entertainments [7] and the experience of religious issues.

W.J. McCormack has rightly stated that the ‘Irish people have been acutely responsive to language over the centuries, [and] have extensively contributed to literature and song’ in the Irish and English languages. [8] When one of the characters in J.F. Molloy’s What, has thou done? (London, 1883) asked why there were so many Irishmen engaged in literature, he received as answer: ‘because literature requires no special training, but wants vivid imagination and fluency - two gifts Irishmen almost always possess; they find it suits them, and serves as a refuge from physical labour or business, things they detest and despise’. [9] Certainly, though, as our Guide reveals, many Irish authors did not avoid the labour involved in writing. The verbal agility of Irishmen has been known for centuries, and even nowadays the telling of stories, often of a gossipy nature, is common at the dinner tables of Irish families. The nineteenth- century Irish scholar J. P. Mahaffy observed that ‘the average man [in Ireland] is able to talk well’. [10] Vance has characterized the Irish as follows: ‘Despite social and economic marginality the Irish writer often had special linguistic advantages, developed in youth by competitive talk and verbal duelling among witty compatriots in a tight-knit and intensely sociable society.’ [11] The verbal skills were not confined to men; for example, William Butler Yeats’s mother, who lived in Howth, outside of Dublin, read no books, ‘but she and the fisherman’s wife would tell each other stories that Homer would have told, pleased with any moment of sudden intensity and laughing together over any point of satire’. [12] This verbal agility also meant an unusual perception of and memory for what other people said or did, and an ability to record this.

Another aspect that applies to many Irishmen and authors (and nonwriters) is a retentive memory of the distant past. Flanagan went even as far as stating that ‘the Irish mind had always been influenced, to the point of obsession,“by the deeds and passions of the past”’ [13] which once introduced into the present provided ample fuel for literary stories and full-fledged novels, of which more below.

These verbally-gifted Irish authors were able to create and reproduce stories in the form of novels and tales. They did so in their own inimitable way, which was often distinct from a great deal of English fiction. Foster emphasized that the Irish ‘have an idiosyncratic approach to telling stories. A powerful oral culture, a half-lost language, the necessary stratagems of irony, collusion and misdirection ..., the deliberate gap in the narrative, [and] story within story’ all are elements that ‘give a distinctive twist to the way the Irish account for themselves’. [14] Similarly, Samuel Lover, one hundred and seventy years earlier than Foster, explained in the preface to his Legends and stories of Ireland (Dublin, 1831) that the stories

are given in the manner of the Irish peasantry; and this has led to some peculiarities that might be objected to, were not the cause explained - namely, frequent digressions in the course of the narrative, occasional adjurations, and certain words unusually spelt. As to the first, I beg to answer, that the stories would be deficient in national character without it; - the Irish are so imaginative, that they never tell a story straight forward, but constantly indulge in episode: for the second, it is only fair to say, that in most cases, the Irish peasant’s adjurations are not meant to be in the remotest degree irreverent; but arise merely from the impassioned manner of speaking, which an excitable people are prone to. [15]

Now, it could be assumed that the above qualities of writing would be repellent to readers and doom the popularity of authors. This was not necessarily the case: the most popular Irish novel of the late-eighteenth century, Maria Regina Roche’s Th e children of the abbey (London, 1 796, 4 vols.), was full of digressions and the introduction of numerous characters and subplots. Also, the Fenian leader Charles Kickham’s hugely popular Knocknagow, or the homes of Tipperary (Dublin, [1873]) was in Vance’s words a ‘preposterously melodramatic and episodic novel’. [16] Storytelling was almost equally shared by Irish authors from Gaelic stock and Irish authors from Ascendancy or English descent.

Other distinguishing characteristics of Irish fiction were the continuously perplexing aspects and conflicts of Irish life, which provided the inspiration and substance for the majority of Irish novels and stories. The Reverend Charles Robert Maturin in his dedication to The Milesian chief (London, 1812) explained that

I have chosen my country for the scene because I believe it the only country on earth, where, from the strange existing opposition of religion, politics and manners, the extremes of refinement and barbarism are united, and the most wild and incredible situations of romantic story are hourly passing before modern eyes. [17]

Mrs S.C. Hall in her Sketches of Irish character (London, 1829) summarized the conflicting characteristics in another perceptive way: ‘There are two nations on one soil; Celt and Saxon, Roman and Protestant, Irish and English Irish ...’ [18]

Irish writers appear to draw directly from their own experiences, but also often based their novels and tales on what they heard from others. If necessary, urban writers were prepared to travel around the countryside and collect stories from the peasantry or from their friends liv­ing there. Thus, many Irish writers became the public voices of storytellers. A Major Darcy from the west of Ireland commented in 1839 on this ‘raiding’ of materials for books:

The genius of the rest of Ireland uses Connaught as a species of literary store-farm. Ulster, Leinster, and Munster, breed men of genius who, so soon as they have exhausted their own provinces of lay and legend, incontinently cross the Shannon to carry on a predator warfare against Fin Varna and Grana Uaile. These they rob and pillage without mercy; driving prays of ghost stories, and taking black mail of songs and tunes as unceremoniously as ever the Finns of old lifted sheep and black cattle. Meanwhile, the Connasians go on coshering, and story telling, and droning on their bagpipes; fighting, joking, ghost-seeing; acting comedies and romances every day; but never dreaming of taking pen in hand to turn themselves to account ... [19]

Peasant storytelling surely existed from times immemorial, but emerged ‘from obscurity only in the second half of the eighteenth century’. [20] However, the raiding of peasant stories reached its [ lii ] height during the early - and much less the latter half of the nineteenth century. Although some English speakers collected these stories in the countryside, a few could do this from the comfort of their home. Dr William Wilde, father of the famous playwright and novelist Oscar Wilde, was consulted by poor patients front all over the island and, instead of a fee, collected folklore from some of them.,, Wilde then recast these stories, most of which were eventually published by his wife, Lady Wilde. Yeats commented that storytellers would not necessarily ‘think sufficiently about the shape of the poem or the story’, and that for oral tradition to become a superior art, it needed writers who could mould the stories and give them ‘a deliberate form’. [22]

Maturin’s comments on the tensions in Irish history and politics applied to both the times in which he lived and to the past, and were to be reflected after his The Milesian chief (London, 1812) was published. In fact, for both Irish and non-Irish authors, the past contained a veritable storehouse of inspiration for Irish novels and tales. Ireland’s history was full of lost causes, lost wars, disasters, agricultural agitation, secret societies, debilitating legal discrimination through penal laws, and famines (see summary in Table 1).

Irish literature was also permeated with the theme of ‘lost’ land, ‘lost’ heroes, ‘lost’ cul ture, and the ‘loss’ of a sense of original nationhood without British dominance. In the same vein, the literature is full of peasantry who have lost home and family and are displaced through eviction from their homesteads, transportation to penal exile, or through semi-voluntary exile through joining armies abroad (the ‘Wild Geese’), and emigration due to famine and poverty. Not surprisingly, William Carleton, who came from a peasant background in Co. Tyrone, appointed himself as ‘the historian’ of the habits and manners of his people. In a flight of fancy, one storyteller, when questioned about the fairies of his times, lamented that they ‘had gone to Scotland’.

The theme of loss in literature also applied to the gentry and Ascendancy, who towards the end of the time period covered by the Guide lost or were about to lose their estates and their formerly leisurely and sporting lifestyle. In either case, literature often functioned as a tool to recover the memory of important aspects of Irish society prior to its having been ‘mislaid’. [23]

Thus, through such laments, Irish literature gave hope to peasant heirs of lost estates for the recovery of their fortunes, the regaining of the Gaelic and Catholic ownership of the land, the expulsion of the English and Scottish intruders and confiscators of Irish soil, and, less frequently, the restoration of the Irish kingship.

Mirroring the diversities of strife on the land and in daily life, all types of conflict were featured in fiction. Writers of English and Scottish stock promulgated in their works notions of the anti-Christ nature of the Catholic Church, the secret machinations of priests, monks, and nuns, and the reach of Rome into domestic matters.

Another aspect of literature sprang from the Protestant Ascendancy writers featuring the cru­elties and violence committed by the Irish during the rebellions - the Desmond rebellion of the late sixteenth century, and the 1641 and the ‘79 rebellions. As the title of Leerssen’s important study expressed, Remembrance and imagination [24] are frequently recurring themes in Irish fiction.

The full cast of Irish authors and a great deal of Irish fiction in the English language published in Ireland, England and North America before 1900 is little known or, even worse, has fallen in virtual oblivion. A large proportion of Irish writers were single-book authors (per­haps those who only had a single, major story to tell, or who only published a more or less fixed set of favourite stories), and were never pressed into public memory because of the lack of their names on further title pages, the smallness of the editions of their book, barriers to the distribution of their books, or the public’s lack of appreciation of their writing. [25]

We argue that the appreciation of Irish fiction should not just rest on well-known authors alone, nor can generalizations about Irish fiction be based on single case studies, or even studies of a handful of major authors. Morash, in his argument to examine the minor literature of Ireland, stated that no chemist or psychologist ‘worthy of name would draw a conclusion on the basis of a single experiment’ or a ‘case study’, and advanced that minor literature needs to be included in order to come to valid conclusions about the true nature of Irish literature [26]

We also agree with Seamus Deane’s comment that ‘The near deification of a few [Irish authors] has been to the detriment of the majority’. [27] As Robert Lee Wolff, the expert on nineteenth-century Irish fiction, expressed it in the early 1980s, ‘there are literally hundreds of other novelists of Ireland [than the most famous ones] and many hundreds of Irish novels waiting in obscurity’. [27] Our Guide to Irish fiction attempts to rectify some of the limitations of past surveys of Irish literature by expanding the known body of literature through a sys tematic search for ‘hidden’ authors and their books. Irish literary history has been plagued for a long time by what we did not know, and to use Seamus Deane’s words from his preface to this Guide ‘that we did not know we didn’t have’. The challenge for us was to ferret out these authors and books, and encourage friends, booksellers and librarians to do the same. Thus, we were fortunate to kindle an enthusiasm in many individuals to identify Irish fiction, all of whom contributed greatly to the present Guide .

The true richness and variety of Irish fiction can only become apparent when the full spectrum of Irish fiction and its authors can be marshalled, irrespective of the current, perceived literary status of the books. The main purpose of the present work is to address the void faced by generations of scholars interested in addressing the development of Irish fiction between 1650 and 1900. [29]

Strangely enough, many Irish literary historians, at least starting with Flanagan, have mostly written about Irish novels, [30] while relatively few scholars have written about Irish tales and stories. [31] 1 Although the focus on novels is understandable, it ignores the fact that most Irish fiction was characterized either as ‘a tale’ in its title, or in fact consisted of a short story of varied length, which in the course of the nineteenth century became a dominant force beside the Irish folktale (see Section V).

In yet another development, prose fiction in the English language started to replace poetry in the first part of the nineteenth century. Samuel Whyte anticipated this change in a poem published in Dublin in 1795: ‘If thou must write, and would’st thy works disperse, Write nov­els, sermons, and any thing but verse.’ [32] He was right about novels, which became a popular genre of writing attracting readers of every faith, but he was wrong about sermons which even among the Protestants became less-favoured reading.

Literary Changes
Based on information from this Guide, we can now document better when the number of Irish authors writing fiction in the English language started to change. In the early-eighteenth century, the number of new Irish fiction writers was small (see Figure 1) and their literary output was modest. Figure 2 displays the number of new titles per year of fiction books from 1650 to 1900 included in this Guide, [33] and shows that the yearly rate was very small for much of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries. Only in the 1750s was there a slight rise, but it wasn’t until the 1780s that the rate of publishing original fiction started to increase. Some notable changes took place during this century. Print culture increased during the 1790s as a result of the United Irishmen promoting newspapers and songs, but they contributed little to fiction. [34] There was a modest increase of publishing of works of fiction during the 1820s and 1830s during the first Irish revival, which was dominated by male authors such as the Banim brothers, William Carleton, and Gerald Griffin. A second period of accelerated growth took place during the 188os and 1890s. [35]

During much of the nineteenth century the majority of the population was Irish-speaking and illiterate. The production of new works of fiction (in contrast to poetry) in the Irish language was virtually nonexistent, and remained so through much of the nineteenth century. As Denvir states, ‘Most of the prose written [in Irish] in the nineteenth century is a continuation of the scribal activity of copying [our emphasis] earlier texts.’ [36] John Bernard Trotter complained in 1812 that ‘Books in Irish are not to be had.’ [37] Chronicling the history of earlier literature, Leerssen remarked that ‘Until the end of the nineteenth century, literary dissemination [of Irish literature] had been either oral, or else in scribal manuscripts only.’ [38] Thus, despite the majority status of Irish speakers, prose fiction in the Irish literary tradition remained frozen outside of print culture, its manuscripts were in private hands and not represented in publicly-accessible libraries. [39] Only in the public sphere of social gatherings of the peasantry were manuscripts read aloud. Their contents also remained disconnected from English literature because, as Cronin remarked, of the striking ‘paucity of printed translations [from the English or other languages] into Irish. [40]

Several other factors contributed to the decline of the Irish language and its literature and the massive adoption of the English language y formerly Irish-speakers. The decay of Irish literature coincided with the disappearance of the old patronage system that had fostered and preserved Irish poetry and narratives. As Cullen remarked, ‘By the end of the eighteenth century, it was not so much a case of the continuing decline of the old-style patronage as a collapse of it’. The approximately 2,500 surviving eighteenth-century manuscripts in Irish showed that English content increased in these artefacts - as evident from notes by owners of the documents, and by inscriptions of the scribes as well. Cullen also noted major geographic differences in people’s familiarity with written language in Irish, which was highest in Munster and east Ulster, and ‘scarcely existed in Connaught, which had a much weaker scribal and a stronger song tradition than Munster’. [41] In addition, in the eighteenth-century poets were concentrated in Munster. Dickson, in a recent summary of the evidence, suggests that ‘as many as half of all Irish-language poets ... known to have been active [in Ireland] between 1690 and 1760 were principall y resident in Kerry, Cork or west Waterford’ [42] We will return to this point in Section V, when we will review the concentration of English-language writers in Munster a century later.

The gradual decline in the use of the Irish language took place especially after 1780. For instance, Maria Edgeworth, when living at Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, wrote in 1782 that ‘The Irish language is now almost gone into disuse, the class of people all speak English except in their quarrels with each other ...’ During the nineteenth century, the decline of spoken Irish accelerated over large parts of the country, with Irish-speaking areas preserved in the south and west. [41]

The decline of the Irish language occurred at a time when the number of schools increased, and with them came an increased demand for reading materials. [44] In late-eighteenth- and early- nineteenth-century Ireland the Catholic country schools, usually known as hedge schools, did not have educational books specifically written for children and, instead, used reading materials of all kinds, including novels and chapbooks in the English languige. [45] probably, part of the death-knell of the Irish language spoken in the younger generations was the establishment of government-sponsored national schools in 1831. In these schools English was the only language of instruction and English textbooks and references to British works of fiction became the norm.

Irish education policy reflected British imperial approaches to extend British rule through educational institutions. In the case of India this was expressed in Baron MacAulay’s [sic for Macaulay] notorious Minutes on Indian Education in 1835, which proposed ‘the formation of a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect’. Although we have not found such a bold statement regarding national Irish education, the impact was the same - with British literature introduced as instruction material for pupils in schools. However, Ireland differed much from India. Whereas in India, education in native languages was not abandoned by the English, in the Irish national schools education in Irish was prohibited. This had a major, divergent impact oil the publishing industry in each country. In India the publishing of fiction flourished both in English and in native languages, [46] whereas in Ireland only publishing in English took place and no publishing of fiction in the Irish language emerged until the end of the nineteenth century.

The literary historian Norman Vance has noted that the Irish novel emerged with ‘no established tradition of the novel’ in the Irish language. Thus, for Ireland novel writing was an imported literary form, [47] tied to the English language and which appears to have been inspired by English and continental examples. Yet the infusion of English as spoken in Ireland, Irish matters, and Irish imagination and discourse, all contributed to a unique shape of nov­els which often differed from those written by British novelists.

A major change that inhibited creative forces in Ireland was the Great Famine of 1845-49 which through death and vastly accelerated emigration led to an unprecedented reduction in the Irish population. As Sir William Wilde stated: ‘The great convulsions which societ y of all grades has lately experienced, the failure of the potato crop, and a most unparalleled extent of emigration, together with bankrupt landlords, pauperizing poor-laws, grinding officials, and decimating workhouses, have broken up the very foundations of social intercourse, have swept away the established theories of political economists, and uprooted many of our long-cher ished opinions.’ He lamented the many changes in society, including ‘the Shannaghie and the Callegh in the chimney corner, tell no more the tales and legends of the other days’ and the rapid decay of the Irish vernacular, in which most of our legends, romantic tales, ballads, and bardic annals, the vestiges of Pagan rites, and the relics of fairy charms were preserved which were ‘the poetry of the people, the bond that knit the peasant to the soil, and cheered and solaced many a cottier’s fireside.’ Emigration, according to Sir William Wilde, had an enormous cultural impact: ‘Everyone who can muster three pounds ten ... are [sic] on the move to America, leaving us the idle and ill-conditioned ..., so that it may well be said, the heart of Ireland now beats in America’. [48] This was a bit of an exaggeration. As this Guide shows, Irish fiction continued to be produced in Ireland and England and accelerated in the second half of the nineteenth century.

It is not sufficiently recognized that emigration was only part of the outflow of people from Ireland. Irishmen, like the Scots and the Welsh, became instrumental in the expansion and government of the British Empire and found employment as government officials, officers, soldiers, and planters in British dominions on both sides of the Atlantic from Africa to the Caribbean and Canada, and around the Indian Ocean in South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition, emigration from Ireland to North America which had started in the early-eighteenth century and which was then mostly Presbyterian from the north of Ireland, was followed by a massive influx of Irish Catholics to the United States from the 1820s onward. Eventually, about five million Irish emigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1920, and another one million to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, at least one-anda-half million Irish moved to England. At the end of the nineteenth century, ‘Two out of every five Irish-born people were living overseas ...’ [49]

The Irish diaspora is in some ways comparable to the emigration of the Italians, Poles, and Portuguese from their home countries to the United States. However, the Irish, partly because of their connection to the expanding British Empire, and partly because of their use of the English language, could take advantage of opportunities more quickly than emigrants from other European countries. As R. M. Martin expressed in 1843, ‘What enabled these distinguished [Irishmen and women] to inscribe their names to the Scroll of Fame, and to add to the honor and to the welfare of their country? The wide and noble field of British enterprise.’ [50] In contrast to emigrants from most other countries in Europe, Irish emigrants were enormously facilitated in their move to Anglophone colonies by their knowledge of a common language. [51]

This facility with the English language created opportunities for the Irish to contribute to the national literatures of the United States and several countries within the British Empire (e.g., Canada and Australia). The shared English language greatly facilitated Irish participation in commerce, trade and the professions, including journalism, which as this Guide shows, gave employment to large numbers of Irish men and women. For those Irish emigrants who became authors abroad, the Anglophone environments provided a wide readership outside of Ireland. Thus, Irish fiction, unlike the fiction of Italy, Poland, or Portugal, was the only European fiction that became truly transnational without the need for translation.

The transnational movement of Irish fiction was strongest in the United States. By 1850, the Catholic Irish population had grown into the single largest Catholic population in the country, fed in good measure by the one-and-a-half million Irish who entered America in the decade between 1845 and 1854. [52] As this Guide shows, some of the immigrants turned to writing fiction, while many non-Irish American authors introduced Irish characters and themes in their novels. 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.

One of the distinct developments of Irish authorship was the link between the collapse of social orders and changes in authorship. [53] An early example of such social collapse occurred in the eighteenth century with the disappearance of patronage for poets in the Irish language. At that time, one could hardly speak of individual authorship as we know it nowadays. Leerssen stressed that the concept of authorship in bardic poetry was ‘largely meaningless’ with the same text being attributed to different poets often living ‘hundreds of years apart’. [54] Sometime between the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century, the notion of authorship in the English language as an occupation emerged in Ireland and Britain. Jonathan Swift is an example of this emerging class of authors, but few of the Irish authors in the eighteenth century were able to earn a living from their writing alone.

Ireland saw another type of collapse of the social order in the nineteenth century when the role of the Ascendancy in Irish society diminished and shifted towards literary engagement. The rise of Ascendancy writers took place under worsening economic and social conditions for their classes, especially during the second half of the nineteenth century when their minority position in Irish society started to lose its economic hegemony. [55] Seamus Deane has remarked that ‘Irish culture became the new property of those who were losing their grip on Irish land’, which constituted ‘a strategic retreat from political to cultural supremacy’. [56] We will show in Section V that an increase of authorship by the Irish gentry, both Protestant and Catholic, and by ministers of the Church of Ireland and their children took place during the nineteenth century. [57] For instance, George Moore, a scion of the Moores of Moor Hall in Co. Mayo, realized in 1879 that as a result of estate mismanagement and poor harvests and rent failures, he would have to leave Ireland to earn a living as an author. Most of these Irish authors had not been trained for any profession and traditionally saw trade and physical work as beneath their status, and therefore turned to writing instead, this new occupation being acceptable to their station in life. A few of the gentry, notably women authors such as Maria Edgeworth, Edith Somerville, and Dorothea Conyers were able to keep up their country house establishments only by their literary earnings, and incorporated many local aspects and characters of their country house world in their writings. [58] In fact, the gentry who stayed in Ireland, in contrast to those who left, contributed more to literature with an Irish content. [59] However, their numbers appear to have decreased at the beginning of the twentieth century. In their place came a solid foundation of middle-class authors, often from a Catholic background, a movement that began during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Eventually, emigrant Irish writers, because of writing in the English language, became participants and leaders in other national literatures that emerged in countries such as Canada and Australia.

Literature and Nation Building
Perhaps more strikingly, new generations of Irish authors living and working in Ireland and Britain contributed to a new form of nationalism in Ireland. The Irish patriot John O’Leary once stated that ‘there is no great literature without nationality, no great nationality without literature’. [60] Even before the Union, the Dublin publishing industry, in contrast to publishing houses in London, did little to support native authors writing in the English language, and this indirectly stimulated an exodus of Irish writers to England. After the Union, and even more strongly during the second half of the nineteenth century, the publishing industry in Dublin declined, which further encouraged Irish authors to become literary ‘absentees’ [61], and leave Ireland for journalism, translation, and other literary work in England. [62] There were various motivations for moving, but one articulated by George Bernard Shaw stands out: ‘Every Irishman [sic] who felt that his business in life was on the higher planes of the cultural professions felt that he must have a metropolitan domicile and an international culture: that is, he felt that his first business was to get out of Ireland.’ [63]; Speaking much earlier, Thomas Moore told John Banim (who had returned to Ireland) that ‘if he had confined his labours to Ireland, he would be a beggar’. [64] The exodus was no small matter: between 1650 and 1900, six out of ten Irish authors died abroad (see Section V), largely because of the fact that their professional lives as writers were situated outside of Ireland.

One of the paradoxes of Irish literary history is that the majority of authors who developed an interest in Ireland, Irish problems, and the Irish language did not spring out of the Catholic Irish peasantry or middle classes. Instead, as Leerssen explained, ‘a massive cultural transfer’ took place in Ireland ‘between the Gaelic tradition and the urban, English-speaking, educated classes’. This constituted an as yet poorly-understood cross-cultural exchange, which was more complex than cultural changes found in ‘monocultural or monolingual societies’. This change in the expression of the culture in fiction was all the more remarkable because of the growth of ‘an educated English-speaking, city-dwelling middle class’ which began to identify itself with Gaelic culture. [65] The complexity of cultural transfer was increased by the fact that (a) many Irish legends were in ancient Irish, which was no longer current in the countryside, and was initially studied and made available through German, French and English scholars; (b) in certain parts of the countryside and even as late as the nineteenth century, the Irish peasantry (not to mention the clergy) knew Latin and had read classical authors [66]. The reorientation within certain members of this class from British to Irish interests fostered a new cadre of Irish authors in the English language with strong interests in Irish history. This did not mean that the initial advocates insisted on expressing themselves in Irish rather than in English. Yeats firmly believed that English could be the language for an Irish national literature. [66] Many of the English-speaking literati interested in Irish Ireland appear to have agreed. However, dissent emerged slowly during the second half of the nineteenth century. As pointed out by Foster, in 1858 the weekly periodical The Celt published a leader which stated that ‘To be Anglicised is to lose our national and characteristic identity, to merge everything Irish and Celtic in, not a British union, but a British supremacy.’ [67] Thirty-four years later, Douglas Hyde famously advocated the de-Anglicization of Irish literature. Foster speaks of the emergence in the 1890s of an Anglophobia, which was to persist for decades. [68] The second Irish literary revival which started in the 1890s, however, produced mostly English-language poetry and plays (the latter not known in old Gaelic Ireland) and few works of fiction.

Starting in the eighteenth century, several Irish authors in the English language turned their attention to history writing and rewrote Irish history in the form of historical fiction. [69] In the nineteenth century, the availability of Irish historical novels compensated for the prohibition of Irish history books for young people in national schools which were thought to be too controversial. It is the retelling of past historical calamities experienced by the Irish (failed rebellions, the loss of the language and culture, the irretrievable Celtic past, the loss of the peasant population through famine and emigration, the oppressive rule of the conquerors) that provided the grist of much literary production by Irish authors.

This orientation to the past was common in many emerging nations searching for a national and native identity, including Greece, Italy, Catalonia, Poland and Estonia, and in that respect Ireland was no exception. These and other emerging nations in Europe all produced national movements with cultural expressions and accoutrements - including a national literature (fiction, poems, and plays), histories of the nation, national symbols, national anthems, monuments commemorative of crucial events in the history of the nation, museums and libraries to preserve the national heritage, national organizations for youth, inventories of ancient archaeological sites and the preservation of the built heritage of the modern period, and national sports. As Leerssen points out, these different forms of cultural nationalism are essential elements in the study of cultural history as it evolved over time. [70]

Lady Morgan turned to fiction to express political arguments: ‘A novel is especially adapted to enable the advocate of any cause to steal upon the public, through the by-ways of the imagination, and win from it sympathies what its reason so often refuses to yield to undeniable demonstration.’ [71] Both Terry Eagleton and Joep Leerssen have noted that, since readership often was English rather than Irish, a national tale in a perplexing manner was developed for a ‘readership of foreigners’. [71] John Banim’s biographer remarked that an objective of the work by the brothers John and Michael Banim was ‘To raise the national character in the estimation of other lands, by a portrayal of the people as they really were, but at the same time to vindicate them of the charges of violence and bloodthirstiness, by showing in the course of fiction, the various causes which he supposedly concurred to draw forth and foster these evil qualities’. [73] Much has been written about the definition of Irish fiction as part of the emergence of a national literature of Ireland. [74] Although its study has begun, the growing knowledge of this literature as evident from this Guide, is likely to boost future investigations of the cultural significance of Irish literature. Leerssen stresses that the study of cultural nationalism in literature should examine the development of Irish fiction in the context of the spread of ideas in Europe about cultural aspects of nationhood. Citing the work of Miroslav Hroch, Leerssen points out that cultural preoccupations (such as ‘The national tale’), rather than being a reflection of past political events, tend to precede political events. Hroch formulated a hierarchical model of influences, during which in phase A: ‘a small circle of intellectuals rediscovers the national culture and past and formulates the idea of a nation’. ‘This can be followed by phase B, which consists of ‘the crucial process of dissemination of the idea of the national by agitator professionals who politicise cultural nationalism in the growning towns.’ In the final phase C ‘the state of popular involvement in nationalism creates a mass movement.’ [75]

In Ireland, the development of the national tale with its emphasis on injustices inflicted upon the Catholic population, the adoption of the idea of Catholic Emancipation by Daniel O’Connell, and his translation of this idea into a mass movement, all somewhat fit this dissemination model. However, in the thicket of conflict, Irish revolutionaries had different ideas about the relationship between literature and social and political change. Some of them believed that that the real battle for nationhood was to be fought not on the cultural front, but was to be waged with land reform and Home Rule as the key pawns. For instance, James Stephens stated that a free Ireland would not be achieved b y ‘amiable and enlightened young men ... pushing about in drawing room society ... creating an Irish national literature, schools of Irish art, and things of the sort’. He likened these idealists in 1863 to ‘dilettante patriots, perhaps the greatest fools of all’. [76] Michael Davitt’s Land League movement which operated from 1879 onward, also had little room for the literary ideals articulated by Thomas Davis in the 1840s and, instead, advanced the idea that control of land was essential for the Irish nation. [77]

In the middle of controversies and conflicts, however, readers decided for themselves. In the words of William Carleton in 1843, ‘Ireland was not then what is she is now fast become, a reading, and consequently a thinking, country’. [78] This thinking stimulated by literature, included thinking of these wrongs inflicted on Ireland and its people, and ways to redress these through land reform and, eventually, through political independence from England.

Although certain aspects of cultural nationalism are common to many European nations, the expression of this nationalism varied widely from country to country. Consequently, specific reactions to historical events and perceived wrongs and calamities varied much among different nations. In the case of Ireland, there were salient events (such as various famines, mass emigration, and the second Reformation with its attempts by Protestant ministers and Bible readers to evangelize and convert Irish Catholics), which helped to shape a specifically Irish tradition of literary fiction.

At the same time, Ireland shared with other European nations the emergence of the ‘ national tale’. The earliest known Irish instance was Sydney Owenson’s (later Lady Morgan) The wild Irish girl. A national tale which appeared in 1806. Within the next four decades, the epithet national was attached to the title of an Irish work only six times. Other books adver­tising themselves as Irish novels and tales (without the adjective ‘national’) emerged subsequently. In fact, one of the most surprising facts is that novels referring to Ireland or the Irish as advertised by their title increased significantly during the nineteenth century (see Section V). Deane, in discussing Irish national fiction, emphasizes that the emergence of Irish national tales rested on three claims, that a) Ireland was a culturally distinct nation; b) it had been mutilated beyond recognition by British colonialism; and c) it could nevertheless rediscover its lost features and thereby recognize once more its true identity’. [79]

Thus, a century prior to Irish independence from Britain, various notions of Irishness developed through the medium of fiction. Curiously, however, Lady Morgan’s national tales appear to have addressed an English readership, [ 80] were never reprinted in Ireland and, therefore, may have reached onl y a small Irish readership, who would have had to rely on her English-published works. Remarkably, it was an English and not an Irish publisher - Henry Colburn - who issued in 1834 a fiction series with the title Irish National Tales, which consisted of books produced from the remainder sheets of earlier editions of Irish novels. Most Irish literature with nationalistic themes was not published in Ireland but was produced by London printing presses and financed by English publishing houses (more about this in Section V). This coincided with a shift by Irish authors wishing to address English rather than Irish readerships about matters Irish. The first known Irish novel clearly aimed at English reader­ship was Stephen Cullen’s Gothic tale, The castle of Inchvally: A tale-alas! too true (London, 1796, 3 vols.), which has footnotes to explain Irish customs. Better known are Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent. An Hibernian tale (London, 1800), and Mary Leadbeater’s Cottage dialogues among the Irish peasantry (London, 1811), each of which contained an extensive glos­sary of Irish phrases and notes for the use of English readers.

The elucidation by Irish authors of Irish matters sprang from different impulses. There were many social and political reasons to counteract English negative perceptions of Irish people and Irish conflicts with the English. Irish topics also could have their charm for English readers, but these readers needed some information to make Irish fiction palatable. The Irish differed from the English in their customs and their use of the English language. Thus, several Irish writers highlighted the ‘peculiar Irish ways’ in which the Irish used the English language, [81] and might try to render an Irish brogue in their writings (e.g., T. S. Arthur’s Before and after the election; or, The political experiences of Mr. Patrick Murphy, Philadelphia, 1853; or W. P. French, The first Lord Liftinant, and other tales, Dublin, 1890). One of the Irish characters in the Irish novel Blue-stocking Hall (London, 1827) set in Co. Kerry states ‘You speak English amongst your poor, as we speak Irish, by ear, and so we speak it badly enough, and differently in different places; but our English we learn out of books, because it is not our natural language, and so perhaps we may speak it nearer to the manner in which it is written than you do at your side of the water.’ [ 82] The result often was, as Lady Augusta Gregory explained, that the Irish from the countryside spoke English while apparently thinking in Irish. [83] This mixture of English and Irish languages became part of Irish literary history.

Critics and Irish Writers
A key link connecting books to the reading public were the critics who reviewed works of fic­tion. Reviews in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century periodicals were important as they helped to set standards by commenting on structure, narrative and plot. [84] Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth noted that ‘General principles of taste and criticism have been spread in society by reviews and magazines’. [85] The worst that could happen to any writer was that his or her book was not reviewed at all. This was a particular problem for Irish writers publishing in Ireland, because these books were often not reviewed in England or Scotland. [86] Much Irish fiction was published by subscription [ 87] or because the author paid for its publication, it probably did not reach the usual distribution networks and was, therefore, less likely to come to the notice of the major review periodicals in England or Scotland. This meant that such volumes encountered an extra barrier in reaching an English reading audience. In contrast, novels by Irish authors published in Britain were more likely to be reviewed by British-based periodicals and occasionally by Irish-based periodicals as well. Several periodicals published in London, were edited by Irishmen (e.g., the Dublin and London Magazine; the Dublin University Magazine; The Nation; the Irish Harp), and periodicals such as the Dublin and London Magazine and the Dublin Review, although published in London, carried much Irish writing as well as reviews directed at Irish readers.

Although Irish critics also wrote about their strong literary preferences, many of them took upon themselves the task of delineating who they considered Irish authors, and of distinguishing between Irish and non-Irish fiction. Their critiques often reflected the tensions of Irish society - Protestants against Catholics, nationalists versus Unionists, Ascendancy against the tenantry. Many critical comments also reflected battles over suitable reading materials for young readers. For example, critics representing the Hibernian Bible Society called the books available in hedge schools ‘foolish legends which poisoned the minds of youth’. The Report of the Commissioners of Irish Education of 1825 lamented the absence of appropriate books, and argued that children’s minds were being ‘corrupted by Books calculated to incite to lawless and profligate Adventure, to cherish Superstition, or to lead to Dissension or Disloyalty’. [88] The pioneering educational booklets issued by the Kildare Place Society for use in Irish schools, often couched in a semi-fictional format and aimed at self-improvement through knowledge of biology, nature, and the world outside of Ireland (but not Irish history) [ [89] were not approved of by the Catholic hierarchy. The Roman Catholic Education Society ‘denounced the Kildare Place Society as anti-Catholic and un-Christian’. [90]

Several of the major Irish fiction writers - the Banim brothers, William Carleton, and Maria Edgeworth - were regularly and generally positively reviewed by Irish and English critics. [91] However, as the idea of a national literature emerged, authors and critics restricted the criteria of what constituted ‘good’ Irish fiction and what it meant to be an Irish writer. It was very easy for an Irish author to be attacked on any one of several fronts such as being of the Ascendancy class rather than from a farmer background, [92], or being a Protestant rather than a Catholic.

A major problem faced by Irish writers was not being recognized by reviewers as ‘truly’ Irish. For example, the Roscommon-born Mrs Bithia Croker published 52 works of fiction, of which at least ten were set in Ireland. In 1919 she wrote to the publisher Edmund Downey: ‘It is strange to me that I never receive any acknowledgement from my native land as an Irish novelist ... Irish papers rarely notice me, save The Freeman’s, journal, whose abuse is most amusing’. [93]

Irish reviewers did pay attention to the content of Irish novels, but tended often to criti­cize authors for the authenticity of their depictions of Ireland, or for choosing not to write about Ireland at all. Irish authors writing about Ireland and the Irish were not exempt from criticism, often because they might be accused of depicting less than authentic or positive views of the Irish. When William Carleton was told that his pictures of the Irish were ‘really more reliable than those of Mrs S.C. Hall’, he boisterously answered ‘Why, of course, they are! Did she ever live with the people as I did? Did she ever dance and fight with them as I did? Did she ever get drunk with them as I did? [94] Carleton, in turn, was reproached by one reviewer for ‘his libels on the Irish priesthood’ and ‘beastly slanders’. [95] Another critic complained that Lady Morgan let her Irish peasantry speak ‘in a jargon meant for the Irish dialect’ [ 96] as if there was a prescribed manner to record dialects and intonations. Several Irish authors, especially those who depicted Irishmen in a comic way (e.g., Charles Lever, Samuel Lover, Edith Somerville and Violet Martin), were rebuked for presenting caricatures of Irish life and personalities. [97] Yeats criticized authors for representing an Ireland which was not ‘the real Ireland’ and presenting a ‘false Ireland of sentiment’. [98] Other critics could not stand Mrs S. C. Hall’s pointing out defects in the Irish character and her attempts to reform the Irish by making them more English. [99] Political orientation sometimes overrode religious beliefs: even if an author was a Catholic, he or she could still be attacked for being a Unionist rather than an Irish nationalist. [100]

Those Irish writers who did not write about Ireland or the Irish also came in for criticism from their compatriots. One critic categorically stated that the Munster author and politician Justin McCarthy could have been ‘a much greater novelist than he [is] if he had lived all his life in Ireland’. [101] The fact that Irish literature became incorporated into British literature led one critic to remark that Irish authors were selling out to the English and asked why should ‘the Celtic genius of Ireland ... go to perfect and glorify English literature when it might have a literature of its own? [102] Another critic, under the headline ‘ We do not work in our own material ’, complained that Irish authors were not writing about the Irish. [103]

The diverse criticisms of Irish fiction often had in common the absence of a desire to arrive at a common ground over what constituted Irish fiction. Very little or no effort was put forward by reviewers to create an encompassing range of criteria for Irish authorship. [104] Even nowadays, this problem occasionally emerges from its grave. We agree with the Irish literary scholar Norman Vance’s view that ‘A more relaxed and pragmatic understanding of the sub­category ‘Irish Literature (in English)’ is clearly needed. [105]

The critics who held up some of the standards represented by these criticisms were a very diverse group of individuals: reviewers, priests, authors (William Carleton, Douglas Hyde, George Augustus Moore, William Butler Yeats, &c.), and proponents of a distinct Irish culture (Thomas Davis, Daniel Corker). [106] In all, some of the criticisms could be devastating, but could also attract public attention to a particular volume or author. Among the most cel­ebrated literary fights is the Irish author John Wilson Croker’s critique of Miss Owenson’s (later Lady Morgan) The wild Irish girl (London, 1806, 3 vols.). He wrote, ‘I accuse her of attempting to vitiate mankind - of attempting to undermine morality by sophistry - and that under the insidious mask of virtue, sensibility and truth.’ [107] The Munster author Canon Patrick Sheehan counter-attacked the critics by writing that ‘we have no Catholic reading public because constructive criticism [our emphasis] is unknown’. Instead, he stated, ‘we have a good deal of negative criticism ... [108] O’Donoghue believed that ‘an Irish writer publishing in London does not cater solely for his countrymen at home, who are necessarily more exacting in the manner of the right sort of national sentiment’. [109]. In a frank appraisal, William Butler Yeats concluded in 1908 that it proved impossible to make a distinction between essential Irish ele­ments in Irish fiction front ‘foreign’ [read British] qualities. [110].

Other more amorphous groups of individuals, whose direct opinions have not been well- documented exercised major influences on what Irish readers could access. Among these ‘selec­tors’ were compilers of anthologies, librarians and library committees of convents, parish and public libraries, owners of circulating libraries, and booksellers who were importers of fiction, including Irish fiction published in England. For instance, Father S.J. Brown in selecting books for Dublin’s Central Catholic Library in the 1930s admitted that ‘a certain number of novels by Catholic authors have been deliberately omitted as objectionable from the moral standpoint’ . [111], School and university teachers’ choices of literary materials for their pupils were a major force in moulding and restricting what pupils and students were exposed to in terms of Irish fiction. In addition, according to Irish readers, parish priests exercised control over what their flocks were reading and some Irish readers hid their reading materials from priests’ eyes. [112] In a book of conduct for juveniles published in Dublin 1870, a priest addressed the question, ‘Which are Bad Books?’

There are six sorts of bad books. 1. Books which are plainly about very bad things. 2. Many novels and romances, which do not seem to be so bad, but often are bad. 3. Idle books, which do no good, but take people’s minds off what is good. 4. . Bad newspapers, and journals, and miscellanies. 5. Superstitious books, fate books, &c. 6. Protestant books and tracts. [113]

Father John O’Rourke in the preface to his Holly & ivy for the Christmas holidays (Dublin, [1852]) alludes to the Synod of Thurles (1850) when the Irish hierarchy, led by Archbishop Paul Cullen, warned the faithful of the dangers of modern literature and suggests that his own story could both amuse and edify the reader. An Ursuline nun of Waterford writing in 1850 addressed her pupils:

We do not ask you never to read novels; but remember that the mere novel-reader is a useless, insipid, tasteless being. Imagination becomes her conscience, her guide, her counsellor, her God. By such reading the understanding is blinded, the heart becomes selfish, and barren of noble and affectionate feelings. Egotism, not duty, not religion, not sacred domestic love, rules the mere novel-reader. [114]

When the novelist Katharine Tynan finished her education at the Siena Dominican Convent in Drogheda, she had to sign the convent pledge that she would not dance ‘fast dances’, go the theatre, or read novels. In her autobiography, she wryly remarks that the pledge did not say anything about the writing of novels. [115] Owners of circulating libraries had their own, unique manner of screening literary texts. A Mrs Lord who kept a circulating library in Dublin had several copies of the English Gothic novel the Monk, which was in universal request. As Summers relates it, the story goes that

a highly correct paterfamilias having reproved her for imperilling the morality of the metropolis by admitting such a book in her catalogue, she naively replied: ‘A shocking bad book to be sure, sir; but I have carefully looked through every copy, and under scored all the naughty passages, and cautioned my young ladies what they are to skip without reading it [116]

Much remains to be learned about what literature by Irish authors was actually available to readers to Ireland, and what was available to authors themselves.

Where Have All the Books Gone?
When Yeats was preparing his book on William Carleton’s stories in 1889 - only twenty years after Carleton’s death - he borrowed some of Carleton’s books from friends, but found himself ‘seeking vainly for others which even then had disappeared from bookshops and library shelves’. [117] Carleton was famous during his lifetime and many of his books were reprinted in the nineteenth century, but still it proved difficult for Yeats to locate all of Carleton’s work. Yeats’s dilemma would have been even greater if he had searched for the works of lesser- known Irish writers. Now, more than one hundred years later, locating thousands of books written by Irish authors has proven a very arduous task. Even after enormous efforts using on-line bibliographies, accessing the stock of dozens of antiquarian dealers, personally searching innumerable old and rare bookstores through Europe and the North America, and searching extensive library collections, we have not been able to locate hundreds of titles.

The relative lack of knowledge about Irish fiction is aggravated by the fact that there is no single comprehensive repository of Irish fiction either in Ireland or abroad. The National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Linen Hall Library, the latter two both in Belfast, have large but by no means comprehensive collections. The Bradshaw collection of Irish books at the university library of Cambridge has only small holdings of fiction, but the university’s general collection is very rich indeed. Remarkably, the Royal Irish Academy de-accessioned many of its novels in 1993. [118]

The history of some of the major holdings of Irish books is sometimes bizarre. In the past, novels at the copyright library of Trinity College, Dublin, received low priority for indexing by librarians. Also novels were lent out to staff and faculty without record, and large numb ers of novels were sent to the front during the First World War . [119] Although in recent decades the college has been active in acquiring novels, its old and intricate cataloguing system makes it nearly impossible to access easily all novels published during the eighteenth and nineteenth [centuries].

Fires and neglect have seriously limited the availability of Irish fiction. Father Brown complained in the 1930s about the books that had ‘disappeared from the [Central Catholic] library’ in Dublin, a situation which had been aggravated by the library burning down in 1932. [120] The section of religious fiction in the British Library, which contained much Irish fiction, was largely demolished when the library was hit by a German bomb in the Second World War. The library of the Belfast Reading Society, now better known as the Linen Hall Library, suffered when an adjoining house was bombed during the ‘troubles’ in recent times and about 8,000 works of Victorian and Edwardian fiction were lost. 121].

Much of late-nineteenth-century Irish fiction at one time was housed in public libraries. The Irish Joint Fiction Reserve, which is a depository of older fiction withdrawn from Ireland’s public libraries, is scattered all over the country. For instance, fiction by authors whose names starts with the letter ‘A’ can now be found at the Western Education & Library Board in Omagh (Co. Tyrone), the letter ‘K’ at the Kildare County Library, while short stories are housed at the Donegal County Library, and the undemanding letter ‘Z’ is housed at the Laois County Library. Unfortunately, the letters ‘U’ and ‘M’, once situated in the Dublin City & County Libraries, were destroyed by a fire in June 1987, but the collection is being rebuilt. [122]

It is nearly impossible to access this large body of fiction spread over thirty-two counties, and much of the national heritage of Irish fiction situated in Ireland remains scattered, inaccessible and underestimated.

In former times, major repositories of fiction could be found in thousands of Irish coun­try houses. However, the large-scale departure of the Ascendancy, and the deserting, demolition and burning of country houses during the Anglo-Irish War has seriously diminished these holdings. Key collections once housed in country houses such as Castle Bellew (Co. Galway), Edgeworthstown House (Co. Longford), Doneraile Court (Co. Cork), the Gage/McCausland collection at Bellanrena (Co. Derry) [sic for Bellarena, between Magilligan & Limavady], and the Granard collection at Castle Granard (Co. Longford) have been dispersed in recent years. Also, the libraries of Church of Ireland clergymen and their offspring, many of whom became fiction writers, had the same fate.113 For example, the library of the Le Fault family, which produced several authors, was dispersed not too long ago.

The upshot of all of this is that thousands of Irish works of fiction published between 1650 and 1900 are very rare and hundreds are known to have survived only as single copies. This Guide, partly based on our own collection (now the Locher Collection of Irish fiction at the Hesburgh Library of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, consisting of 2,444 books) 124 provides the location of almost all surviving titles.

It is likely that the future will reveal titles that we have missed. The holdings of some libraries are vast and their catalogues are not set up to identify Irish fiction (the exceptions are for major modern Irish authors such as Joyce and Beckett). In fact, Irish fiction in major libraries remains buried among English language fiction. In that sense, it is not different from the literatures of former British colonies such as Jamaica, Canada or other former British dominions. These literatures, including Irish fiction, all need special efforts to identify native authors, discover and document their works, and appreciate their contributions to their national heritages.

[lxx; &c.;]

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