Hibernia’s Muses: The Daughters of Thalia and Melpomene

By S.W. Jackman

A detailed study of eight Irish 19th-century women writers, showing how provincial arts in Victorian times were as influential as those of great urban centres.

ISBN: 9780718830526


Dare to overturn preconceptions about the nineteenth-century arts with this fascinating work. Two assumptions are often made about the arts of the 19th century; firstly, that urban centres of the 19th century are where the arts flourished and ‘provincial’ centres were rather more inferior in their contributions to art, music and literature; and secondly, that women played a lesser role in their contribution to the arts. It is two such notions, which S.W. Jackman challenges in his highly detailed study of a range of Irish nineteenth-century women writers.

Through eight far-reaching, biographical sketches of prominent Irish women writers, the author demonstrates that ‘provincial’ prose and poetry was not of lower status, but simply different.

As the reader discovers the backgrounds to writers, such as: the ‘doyenne,’ Maria Edgeworth; Sidney Morgan; Marguerite Blessington; Helen Dufferin; Caroline Norton; Speranza Wilde; Augusta Gregory and Edith Somerville, so it becomes clear that 19th century literature knew no sexual or geographical boundaries. This well-researched study portrays above all how the writers’ contributions appealed very highly to the romantic Victorian spirit and helped greatly in shaping Western culture.

Literature was a lady-like pursuit even if pecuniary motives were paramount, and a woman did not lose caste by writing fiction.
From Chapter One: Maria Edgeworth

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 160

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Sydney Wayne Jackman (1925-2011), known to all his friends as Toby after his childhood teddy-bear, taught at Harvard and other universities before becoming Professor of History at the University of Victoria. Among his other books are: Man of Mercury: The Mind of Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke and Deviating Voices: Women and Orthodox Religious Tradition, also published by the Lutterworth Press.



1. Maria Edgeworth
2. Sydney Morgan
3. Marguerite Blessington
4. Helen Dufferin
5. Caroline Norton
6. Speranza Wilde
7. Augusta Gregory
8. Edith Somerville

Further Reading