Strange Stories by Irish Women

2019-01-25 Final Poster

Back in 2015, Jason Zerrillo and I designed the poster “Irish Writers of the Fantastic” as a response to the more ubiquitous “Irish Writers” poster that one often finds around Dublin. Instead of the typical faces — Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Swift, etc. — we wanted to showcase the Irish writers we enjoyed reading — those with a more fantastical bent — Le Fanu, Dunsany, Hearn, etc. Our goal was to establish a sort of lesser known canon, but a no less important one. If you want to see “Irish Writers of the Fantastic”, and read about the thought that went into it, have a look at this previous post.

With the release of Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women, edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers, we thought it would be an interesting idea to repeat the exercise. Naturally we focused on the Irish women who contributed to literature of the fantastic and whose stories are included in the book.

In addition to the image above showing the full poster, the links below will give you a bit more information on the backgrounds of these writers. And if you’re still interested, do pick up a copy of Bending to Earth.

Anna Maria Hall (1800 – 1881)

Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1821[?] – 1896)

Charlotte Riddell (1832 – 1906)

Rosa Mulholland (1841 – 1921)

L. T. Meade (1844[?] – 1914)

B. M. Croker (c.1849 – 1920)

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852 – 1932)

Katharine Tynan (1859 – 1931)

Clotilde Graves (1863 – 1932)

Ethna Carbery (1866 – 1902)

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866 – 1918)

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870 – 1953)

Of course, as is always the case with these things, not everyone will agree with our choices. Two obvious omissions are Dorothy Macardle and Elizabeth Bowen. Given that they both appeared on our first poster, “Irish Writers of the Fantastic”, and are both served well in print, we decided not to include them again here. Instead we focused on lesser known contributors to fantastical literature. But the question stands: who would you include? And, more importantly, why would you include them?

As always, we hope this poster, “Strange Stories by Irish Women”, will lead you to discover new books and authors. If you have a further interest in Ireland’s contributions to fantastical literature, you also might want to check out our twice-yearly journal The Green Book, which features commentaries, articles, and reviews on Irish gothic, supernatural, and fantastic literature.


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.

Advertisements
Strange Stories by Irish Women

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953)

12 Beatrice Grimshaw

“A mountain paradise, yet silent and lonesome, somewhat strange, for all its sweetness of flower and of friend, not friendly . . . ” – “The Blanket Fiend” (1929)

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953) was born in Dunmurry, Co. Antrim on 3 February 1870. Though raised in Northern Ireland, and educated in France, Grimshaw is primarily associated with Australia and the South Seas, which she wrote about in her fiction and travel journalism. She was a devoted (and record-breaking) cyclist, and during the 1890s wrote for the Dublin-based magazines Irish Cyclist and Social Review. In 1904 Grimshaw was commissioned by London’s Daily Graphic to report on the Pacific islands, around which she purportedly sailed her own cutter, never to return to Europe again. Her travel writing includes From Fiji to the Cannibal Islands (1907) and In the Strange South Seas (1908); her most popular novels are When Red Gods Call (1911) and The Sorcerer’s Stone (1914); while collections such as The Valley of Never-Come-Back (1923) and The Beach of Terror (1931) feature some of her supernatural stories. After living much of her life in New Guinea, Grimshaw retired to New South Wales, where she died on 30 June 1953.


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.

Beatrice Grimshaw (1870-1953)

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918)

11 Dora Sigerson Shorter

“Up and down the streets I wandered till dawn grew gray, but no dawn arose in my heart, only black night for ever.” – “Transmigration” (1900)

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918) was born in Clare Street, Dublin. Both of her parents were writers—her father was the noted surgeon and poet George Sigerson (1836-1925). In 1895 she married the English literary critic Clement King Shorter and relocated to London. Early in her career she contributed to magazines such as Irish Monthly and Samhain, and became friendly with the political activist Alice Furlong and the author Katharine Tynan. Shorter’s volumes of poetry include The Fairy Changeling (1897), Love of Ireland (1916), and the posthumously published Sixteen Dead Men and Other Poems of Easter Week (1919). Shorter died in St. John’s Woods, London, on 6 January 1918; Tynan later wrote that she “died of a broken heart” which she attributed to the 1916 executions. Although chiefly known for her poetry (and to a lesser extent as a sculptor) Shorter also wrote prose, including sketches collected in The Father Confessor: Stories of Danger and Death (1900). She is now regarded as a significant poet of the Irish Literary Revival.


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.

 

Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918)

Our Haunted Year: 2017

IMG_1979

The end of the 2017 is upon us and I’d like to take a moment to look back at the books we’ve published over these past twelve months. While I’ve always defined Swan River as an Irish press, this year all of our books were either by Irish authors or have a strong Irish connection.

IMG_1604The publication date of our first book was pre-determined: the Selected Poems of A.E. (George William Russell). Last April was the 150th birth anniversary of Ireland’s under-appreciated mystical poet.  And as no other edition of his books were properly in print, I knew it fell upon us to do something to mark the occasion.

The genesis of this book dates a few years back. I was casting around for an A.E. project to mark the sesquicentennial year, and for a brief time considered assembling a collection of my own favourites. That’s when I acquired a first edition of Selected Poems, the dust jacket of which bore a request from the poet himself: “If I should be remembered I would like it to be for the verses in this book.” So that’s exactly what I did. On the boards is reproduced a painting by A.E., and rounding out the book is an excellent afterword by Ambassador Dan Mulhall. If you’re interested in learning more about A.E., we’ve a few past blog posts for you to check out.

IMG_1869Our next book was a real pleasure to work on. Following on from the success of Mervyn Wall’s beloved cult classics, The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey, I wanted to bring back into print his equally delightful short story collection A Flutter of Wings, which hadn’t been available for over forty years. To this new edition we added Wall’s nightmarish bureaucratic drama, Alarm Among the Clerks, which had been out of print for an alarming seventy years.I hope people will like this book as much as the Furseys.

What makes this edition even more special are the illustrations by Clare Brennan. In addition to being an excellent artist and designer, Clare has the distinction of being Mervyn Wall’s granddaughter. If you like Clare’s illustrations for A Flutter of Wings, you’ll be delighted to know prints are available to buy from her website. And of course, with an introduction by Val Mulkerns, this book has become one of my favourites of the year.

IMG_1935

In November we were happy to publish a new collection by Bram Stoker: Old Hoggen and Other Adventures. It’s not every day a new collection of short stories by Stoker gets published, which is what makes this book extra special. It brings together for the first time a number of adventure tales that have been rediscovered in recent years. You can read more about how the “lost” volume of stories was assembled, and its relationship to Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories, in the Preface. Old Hoggen also provided a joyful opportunity to work with Stoker scholar John Edgar Browning, who has been leading the charge  in all things Bram in recent years. The striking cover is by long-time Swan River conspirator Jason Zerrillo, who I’m sure we’ll see more from in the new year.

Alan Hanna'sThe final book of the year was The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray, an anthology edited by Mark Valentine and including ten new stories of art, obsession, love, lust, and sorcery by Reggie Oliver, Caitriona Lally, Lynda E. Rucker, John Howard, D. P. Watt, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Avalon Brantley, Timothy J. Jarvis, John Gale, and Derek John. In addition to this fine volume of tales, which I hope you will enjoy, this book is the first time I’ve worked with artist John Coulthart, who designed the front cover and boards.

Green Book 09Turning now to our journal, The Green Book, which has now entered the double digits! Issue nine focused on Irish women writers, with included, among other pieces, two essays by Elizabeth Bowen, an article on Rosa Mulholland by the late Richard Dalby, and an uncollected story by Dorothy Macardle called “The Boys’ Room”. Issue nine was one of the strongest issues we’ve had to date.

Green Book 10Issue ten, published in the autumn, was devoted to the fantasist Lord Dunsany, and comprised of writings about him by his contemporary Irish peers. With pieces by W.B. Yeats, Francis Ledwidge, Forrest Reid, Elizabeth Bowen, Katharine Tynan, and others, my intention was to remind readers that Dunsany once held a firm position in early-twentieth century Irish literature. I hope people read this issue from cover to cover as it illuminates Dunany over the course of his entire career.

2017-08-05-Irish-Writers-PoWhile not a book publication, another project that came to fruition this year was the Irish Writers of the Fantastic poster that I designed with Jason Zerrillo a couple years back. The poster showcases twelve writers, spanning three centuries, each of whom made significant contributions to Irish literature.

While the poster was designed in late 2015, it wasn’t until this October that Alison Lyons of Dublin City Libraries and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature agreed to produce copies of the poster to distribute for free around Dublin, coinciding with the Bram Stoker Festival. Copies of the poster are still available, and I urge everyone (especially if you’re a teacher or librarian!) to pick up a copy. Absolutely free! For those living abroad, there are other ways of procuring a copy.

This post wouldn’t be complete without thanking Meggan Kehrli, Ken Mackenzie, Maurice Healy, and Jim Rockhill for all the work they’ve done this year. For those who don’t know, these are the folks who make Swan River books look so good. Meggan handles all of our design, Ken takes care of the typesetting, while Jim looks after proofreading. Maurice only recently joined us this year, and has proven invaluable. On a sadder note, most will have heard by now that Richard Dalby passed away earlier this year. Richard acted informally as an advisor, as he did for many small presses, and the void that he leaves behind will be sorely missed.

BorderlandSo there you have it! That’s what we got up to this year, and I hope you found something to enjoy. There’s plenty to look forward to next year as well. We recently announced our forthcoming deluxe edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland, which will be out for April 2018. I’ve spared no expense with this one, which will bear a cover and interior illustrations by John Coulthart, accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack by Jon Mueller. Not stopping there, Alan Moore contributed a new introduction, while Iain Sinclair is looking after the afterword. Everyone who participated in this project has a passion for Hodgson’s cosmic masterwork. As an added bonus, the book will be fully signed by all contributors.

dublin logo final copyAnd perhaps the biggest new for next year is the return of the Dublin Ghost Story Festival. I’m very excited that the guest of honour will be Joyce Carol Oates, with an opening night performance by Reggie Oliver. Even if next year’s festival is only half as fun as last year’s, we’ll be in for a huge treat. The event is already half sold-out, so if you’d like to attend, please don’t delay! We’ll be announcing further guests in the coming weeks. You’ll not be disappointed!

So that’s everything for now. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to the press this year, be it through buying books, supportive emails, or even coming out to see us at festivals and conventions. I’m looking forward to new books and hearing from everyone in the new year.

 

Our Haunted Year: 2017

Mervyn Wall (1908-1997)

12 Wall“In Ireland anything may happen to anyone anywhere and at any time, and it usually does.”

The Unfortunate Fursey (1946)

Mervyn Wall (1908-1997) was born in Rathmines, Dublin. He was educated in Belvedere College; Bonn, Germany; and the National University of Ireland where he obtained his B.A. in 1928. After fourteen years in the Civil Service, he joined Radio Éireann as Programme Officer. In 1957 he left Radio Éireann to become Secretary of the Arts Council of Ireland, a position he held until 1975. Widely known during his lifetime as a broadcaster and critic, he is best remembered now for his plays and novels, among them two satirical fantasies set in medieval Ireland, The Unfortunate Fursey (1946) and The Return of Fursey (1948). His book Leaves for the Burning won Denmark’s Best European Novel award in 1952.

Unfortunate CoverNovels and Collections

The Unfortunate Fursey (1946)

The Return of Fursey (1948)

A Flutter of Wings (1974)

Short Stories

“They Also Serve . . . ”

“The Demon Angler”

“Cloonaturk”

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


A Flutter of WingsWhile our deluxe hardback editions of Mervyn Wall’s most beloved novels, The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey, are now out of print, we still have available a new hardback edition of his short story collection A Flutter of Wings.

You’ll also find Mervyn Wall in The Green Book. In Issue 2 is Richard Dalby’s “Mervyn Wall: Irish Author and Satirist”, while in Issue 5 there’s an extensive, career-spanning interview with Wall.

Then, of course, there’s our previous blog entry on Mervyn Wall; a short piece on the origins of The Unfortunate Fursey; an article on Wall’s encounter with the founder of modern day witchcraft, Gerald Gardner; and finally a video of a commemorative event held at the National Library of Ireland to celebrate the life and works of Mervyn Wall: Appreciations and Reminiscences.

Mervyn Wall (1908-1997)

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

11 Bowen“In her once familiar street, as in any unused channel, an unfamiliar queerness had silted up; a cat wove itself in and out of railings, but no human eye watched Mrs. Drover’s return.”

 – “The Demon Lover” (1941)

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) was born in Dublin. In 1930 she inherited the family estate in Bowen Court, in Co. Cork, where she entertained the likes of Virginia Woolf and Eudora Welty. Her novels, non-fiction, and short stories—such as those in The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (1934) and The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945)—continue to be read and appreciated today. Her ghostly fiction, which made regular appearances in the anthologies of Cynthia Asquith, is akin to that of Henry James in its psychological probity, but briefer, wittier, and more ironic, with a streak of feline cruelty.

demon loverCollections

The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (1934)

The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945)

The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (1980)

Short Stories

“The Cat Jumps” (1929)

“The Apple Tree” (1931)

“The Demon Lover” (1941)

“Pink May” (1945)

“Hand in Glove” (1952)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.


Green Book 09Elizabeth Bowen has featured numerous times in various issues of The Green Book. The first was Issue 4: “Who’s Afraid of ‘The Demon Lover’?: Ireland and the Supernatural in Elizabeth Bowen’s Short Fiction” by Megan Kuster.

Issue 9 contains two pieces by Bowen. The first is her introduction to The Second Ghost Book, a fascinating essay that reveals Bowen’s own thoughts on supernatural literature. the second piece is “Big House”, in which Bowen discusses landed estates in Anglo-Irish literature. In the same issue is Bernice M. Murphy and Edwina Keown’s “Uncanny Irish-American Relations: Elizabeth Bowen and Shirley Jackson”.

Finally, in Issue 10, which is an issue devoted to Lord Dunsany, you’ll find Bowen’s not-so-gentle review of Dunsany’s One Ireland.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

10 Lewis“If ever they remembered their life in this world it was as one remembers a dream.”

– The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) is widely considered a titan of twentieth-century fantasy, due largely to his “Chronicles of Narnia” novels (1950-56), which commenced with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Though born in Belfast, Lewis is more often associated with Oxford, where he joined the Magdalen College English faculty, and associated with J. R. R. Tolkien and other members of the Inklings literary group. Lewis also explored science fiction in his “Space Trilogy” novels (1938-45), while Christian themes permeate works such as The Screwtape Letters (1942). Lewis is buried at Holy Trinity Church in Headington, Oxford.

9780061715051_1_slideshowNovels

Out of a Silent Planet (1938)

The Screwtape Letters (1942)

That Hideous Strength (1945)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

Prince Caspian (1951)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

Find out more about Irish Writers of the Fantastic.

 

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)