Somerville and Ross

John Cronin

101 pages
ISBN 0-8387-7698-1
Contemporary Irish Writers

Somerville and Ross is another contribution to the Irish Writers Series. These monographs have been designed to treat in individual volumes the significant Anglo-Irish writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. When complete the series will constitute a significant history of modern Anglo-Irish literature, encompassing discussions of more than 50 writers.

The present volume discusses the life and works of Edith Oenone Somerville and Violet Florence Martin (who wrote under the name of Martin Ross). The two women cousins were both of old Anglo-Irish Protestant families. Together they wrote novels (their most famous being The Real Charlotte), short stories (the collection Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. and its two sequels), and travel sketches.

The author discusses their work, in chronological order, and quotes extensively from their writings. Intertwined withe the evaluations are incidents in the lives of the two ladies, both of whom were born in mid-Victorian times but one of whom, Miss Somerville, died in 1949 at the age of 91. She thus outlived her cousin by more than a generation but continued to write under the name of Somerville and Ross, partly because she believed that the spirit of Violet Martin was continuing to influence her.

About the author:

John Cronin was born in the city of Cork and educated at University College, Cork where he received a B.A. degree in 1955. He was awarded the B.A. degree of the University of London in 1956 and the M.A. of the National University of Ireland in the same year. He was, for four years, an Executive Officer in the Irish Civil Service and, from 1957-61, a Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He returned to Ireland in 1962 to take up an appointment as Lecturer in the English Department at Queen's University, Belfast, where he was appointed Senior Lecturer in 1969.


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