Menu Expand
Norah Hoults Poor Women!

Norah Hoults Poor Women!

Kathleen P. Costello-Sullivan


Additional Information

Book Details


Irish author (Eleanor) Norah Hoult (1898–1984) travelled in prominent literary circles and corresponded actively with some of the leading Irish authors of the early twentieth century, including James Stephens, Brigid Brophy, Sean O’Casey and Sean O’Faolain. Despite her reputation and a forty-four year publishing career, Hoult’s oeuvre remains surprisingly neglected. This edition seeks to rectify that critical oversight by introducing Hoult’s short story collection ‘Poor Women!’ to a new generation of readers. Hoult is often compared to writers such as Kate O’Brien and Edna O’Brien for her representations of the oppressive facets of Catholicism. Less explored is her engagement with emotional paralysis and her detailed representations of widowhood and urban settings, inviting comparison to literary giants James Joyce and Mary Lavin. These similarities offer venues for further study.

‘What a gift to encounter the vividly realized women of Norah Hoult’s long-neglected short stories, written nearly a century ago, intended to expose, in her own words, the “unequal state of affairs” between men and women. Hoult sympathetically and unflinchingly portrays the straitened lives of women marginalized by class, age, and widowhood […] This collection marks an important retrieval of an Irish woman writer, admired in her time by James Stephens, Oliver St John Gogarty, and W. B. Yeats. Her powerful stories respect and attend to the lives of marginalized women and speak to us in a world that continues to rest on unjust social arrangements.’ –Maureen O’Connor, Lecturer in English, School of English, University College Cork, UK

Irish author (Eleanor) Norah Hoult (1898–1984) traveled in prominent literary circles and corresponded actively with some of the leading Irish authors of her time, including Brigid Brophy, Sean O’Casey, and Sean O’Faolain. Critics today compare her not only to O’Faolain and Frank O’Connor, but also to novelists Kate O’Brien and Edna O’Brien. Despite her reputation and a forty-four year publishing career, however, Hoult and her work remain surprisingly neglected.

This edition rectifies this critical oversight and introduces Hoult’s short story collection, 'Poor Women!', to a new generation of readers. 'Poor Women!' displays Hoult’s subtlety and humor as an author and her nature as a keen witness to human frailty. In these stories, Hoult unflaggingly highlights the restrictions imposed on her characters by society and its institutions: she thus provides a window into the social, literary and political milieu from which she hails.

Largely cited for its engagement with women’s and religious issues, 'Poor Women!' thus also displays a keen awareness of wider historical issues like the challenges of war and of cultural identity construction. Her incisive portraits capture the emotional paralysis of her characters and their self-delusions. Such thematic and stylistic emphases invite further comparison to better-known contemporary Irish literary giants like James Joyce and Mary Lavin.

Kathleen Costello-Sullivan is a professor and dean at Le Moyne College and a scholar of Modern Irish literature. She has previously published two book-length works, ‘Mother/Country: Politics of the Personal in the Fiction of Colm Tóibín’ (2012) and a critical edition of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's novella ‘Carmilla’ (2013).

‘This long overdue critical edition of Hoult's Poor Women!, meticulously edited and thoughtfully contextualized, gives scholars of Irish and modern literature a go-to edition of an increasingly important text. The introduction, which situates Hoult's work relative to more established figures in the Irish canon, will be especially helpful for both students and scholars.’ –Dr Nels Pearson, Professor of English and Director of Irish Studies, Fairfield University, USA

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover 1
Front Matter i
Half-title i
Series information ii
Title page iii
Copyright information iv
Dedication v
Table of contents vii
Acknowledgments ix
Chapter 1
Introduction 1
Poor Women! 17
Ethel 18
Violet Ryder 36
Alice 74
The Other Woman 97
MRS. Johnson 112
MISS Jocelyn 139
Bridget Kiernan 160
‘Mary, Pity Women!’ 191
Notes on the Text 193
End Matter 195
Appendix: Letters to the Author 195
A. Oliver St John Gogarty 196
B. Brigid Brophy 200