Katharine Tynan (1859-1931)

08 Katharine Tynan

“Any whose business brought them to the attic looked in the corners warily, while they stayed, but the servants did not like to go there alone.” – “The First Wife” (1895)

Katharine Tynan (1859-1931) was born in South Richmond Street, Dublin on 23 January 1859. She was raised in Whitehall, the family home in Clondalkin. Her literary salon there attracted notables such as the mystical poet A.E. and W. B. Yeats, the latter with whom she formed a lifelong friendship. With encouragement from Rosa Mulholland, Tynan became a prolific writer, authoring more than a hundred novels in addition to memoirs, journalism, numerous volumes of poetry, and a tribute to her friend Dora Sigerson Shorter in The Sad Years (1918). Her works deal with nationalism, feminism, and Catholicism—Yeats declared of her early collection Shamrocks (1887) that “in finding her nationality, she has also found herself”. Tynan died in Wimbledon, London on 2 April 1931. Her short stories, often featuring sketches of Irish life, can be found in An Isle in the Water (1895), Men and Maids (1908), and Lovers’ Meeting (1914).

Bending to EarthBending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

Irish women have long produced literature of the gothic, uncanny, and supernatural. Bending to Earth draws together twelve such tales. While none of the authors herein were considered primarily writers of fantastical fiction during their lifetimes, they each wandered at some point in their careers into more speculative realms — some only briefly, others for lengthier stays.

Names such as Charlotte Riddell and Rosa Mulholland will already be familiar to aficionados of the eerie, while Katharine Tynan and Clotilde Graves are sure to gain new admirers. From a ghost story in the Swiss Alps to a premonition of death in the West of Ireland to strange rites in a South Pacific jungle, Bending to Earth showcases a diverse range of imaginative writing which spans the better part of a century.

Read an Extract from the Introduction to Bending to Earth.

The Death Spancel and Others by Katharine Tynan

Order a copy of The Death Spancel.

Katharine Tynan is not a name immediately associated with the supernatural. However, like many other writers of the early twentieth century, she made numerous forays into literature of the ghostly and macabre, and throughout her career produced verse and prose that conveys a remarkable variety of eerie themes, moods, and narrative forms.

From her early, elegiac stories, inspired by legends from the West of Ireland, to pulpier efforts featuring grave-robbers and ravenous rats, Tynan displays an eye for weird detail, compelling atmosphere, and a talent for rendering a broad palette of uncanny effects.

The Death Spancel and Others is the first collection to showcase Tynan’s tales of supernatural events, prophecies, curses, apparitions, and a pervasive sense of the ghastly.

Katharine Tynan (1859-1931)

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