Women's Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland


Women's Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland

Edited by Julie A. Eckerle and Naomi McAreavey

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Series

342 pages


June 2019


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

June 2019


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

June 2019


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Women’s Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland provides an original perspective on both new and familiar texts in this first critical collection to focus on seventeenth-century women’s life writing in a specifically Irish context. By shifting the focus away from England—even though many of these writers would have identified themselves as English—and making Ireland and Irishness the focus of their essays, the contributors resituate women’s narratives in a powerful and revealing landscape.

This volume addresses a range of genres, from letters to book marginalia, and a number of different women, from now-canonical life writers such as Mary Rich and Ann Fanshawe to far less familiar figures such as Eliza Blennerhassett and the correspondents and supplicants of William King, archbishop of Dublin. The writings of the Boyle sisters and the Duchess of Ormonde—women from the two most important families in seventeenth-century Ireland—also receive a thorough analysis. These innovative and nuanced scholarly considerations of the powerful influence of Ireland on these writers’ construction of self, provide fresh, illuminating insights into both their writing and their broader cultural context. 

Author Bio

Julie A. Eckerle is a professor of English at the University of Minnesota Morris. She is the author of Romancing the Self in Early Modern Englishwomen’s Life WritingNaomi McAreavey is a lecturer in Renaissance literature at University College Dublin. She is the coeditor of The Body in Pain in Irish Literature and Culture.


"This book is an interesting and valuable contribution to studies on women’s writing, life writing, and early modern Ireland."—Emily Chambers, Journal of British Studies

"Women’s Life Writing and Early Modern Ireland is, in sum, an inspiring collection. It is an engaging and insightful volume, that is essential reading for students and scholars alike, and will serve as a foundational text for scholars interested in women’s history, women’s writing, and Irish studies."—Evan Bourke, Early Modern Women

“This volume will serve as a landmark contribution to both Irish studies and early modern women’s literary history, offering not only essays on new authors and texts but also pointing the way forward for future work on this country’s complex national identity and literary history.”—Margaret J. M. Ezell, Distinguished Professor of English and the Sara and John Lindsey Chair of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University

“This is an outstanding contribution to women’s writing in Ireland—an impeccable, original, and genuinely transformative work of scholarship. It is an extraordinarily rich and insightful volume. The volume has multiple virtues: a capacious sense of what constitutes life-writing, the concentration on a particular national-regional configuration, the use of Ireland as experience and point of reference, and the concentration of Ireland as a site and a stimulus. This is a work, then, considerably larger than the sum of its parts.”—Ramona Wray, reader in Renaissance literature in the School of English at Queen’s University Belfast

Table of Contents



Julie A. Eckerle and Naomi McAreavey

1. Alice Thornton, Elizabeth Freke, and the Remembrances of Ireland

Raymond A. Anselment

2. Reading Dislocation and Emotion in the Writings of Alice Thornton, Ann Fanshawe, and Barbara Blaugdone

Anne Fogarty

3. The Boyle Women and Familial Life Writing

Ann-Maria Walsh

4. Life Writing in the Boyle Family Network

Amelia Zurcher

5. The Politics of Honor in Lady Ranelagh’s Ireland

Ruth Connolly

6. The Place of Ireland in the Letters of the First Duchess of Ormonde

Naomi McAreavey

7. English-Irish Social Networks in the Seventeenth Century

Amanda E. Herbert

8. Women’s Letters in the Lyons Collection of the Correspondence of William King

Julie A. Eckerle

9. Ownership Inscriptions and Life Writing in the Books of Early Modern Women

Jason McElligott

Appendix: Archives and Female Life Writers of Early Modern Ireland




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