James McHenry (1785-1845)

Life
b. Larne, ed. Dublin and Glasgow, grad. MB; emig. USA, 1817-42; practiced medicine in Philadelphia; editor of The American Monthly Magazine, Philadelphia; U.S. consul in Derry, 1842; issued novel, O’Halloran (1924); also The Bard of Erin and Other Poems (Belfast 1808); many theatrical works produced in USA and printed in Philadelphia incl. Which Shall I Marry [q.d.], a musical comedy, Gertrude of Wyoming [q.d.], Genius [q.d.], and Usurper (1829), a tragedy; other novels incl. O’Halloran: The Insurgent Chief (1824) and Hearts of Steel (1825), adventures of a young loyalist; d. 21 June in Larne; PI IF DIW RAF OCIL DIL

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Works
Novels
  • The Wilderness; or, Braddock’s Times (NY: Bliss & White 1823);
  • The Spectre of the Forest (NY: Bliss & White 1823);
  • O’Halloran; or The Insurgent Chief: An Irish Historical Tale of 1798 (Philadelphia: Carey & I. Lea 1824); Do. (Belfast: Henderson 1824) [Belfast edn. includes author’s notes]; Do. [electronic edn.] (Early American Fiction Full Text Database], Vols. 1 & 2 (Virginia Univ. 2004);
  • The Hearts of Steel: An Irish Historical Tale of the Last Century (Philadelphia: Poole 1825);
  • The Betrothal of Wyoming (Philadelphia: [no.pub] [1830]);
  • Meredith; or, The Mystery of the Meschianza (Philadelphia: [no pub.] 1831).
Poetry
  • Bard of Erin and Other Poems (Belfast: Smythe & Lyons 1808);
  • Patrick: A Poetical Tale of 1798 (Glasgow: McKenzie 1810);
  • The Pleasures of Friendship (Pittsburgh: priv. pub. 1822);
  • Waltham: An American Revolutionary Tale in Three Cantos (NY: Bliss & White 1823);
  • The Jackson Wreath (1829);
  • Feelings of Age, to Which is Added the Star of Love (Philadelphia: Banks [1830]);
  • The Antediluvians; or The World Destroyed (London:[no pub.] 1839);
  • Britannia: An Ode (London: [no pub.] 1839).
Drama
  • The Usurper: An Historical Tragedy in Five Acts (Philadelphia: Harding 1829).

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Criticism
James Coleman, ‘James McHenry’ [Bibliographical Society of Ireland, 2] (1925), pp.133-39; J. S. Crone, in Irish Book Lover, 15 (1925) [q.p.].

See also refs. in Josephine Phelan, The Ardent Exile: The Life and Times of Thomas D’Arcy McGee (Toronto 1951).

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Commentary
James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room, The Irish Historical Novel (Syracuse UP/Gill & Macmillan 1983), remarking that James McHenry, author of The Insurgent Chief (1824), about the northern risings of 1798, and The Hearts of Steel (1825), about the Steelboys of the late eighteenth century, has the honour of the first Irish historical novelist, preceding Banim by some years. (p.45).

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References
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists The Insurgent Chief [formerly printed as O’Halloran] and Hearts of Steel [n.d.]. Note, this author is apparently cited as James Henry in Charles Read, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78).

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), lists works incl. Patrick, a poetical tale of 1798 (Glasgow 1810); Waltham: An American Revolutionary Tale in 3 cantos (1823); The Jackson Wreath (1829); The Feelings of Age, The Star of Love (Phil. 1830); Britannia: An Ode (London 1839); drama attrib. includes Gertrude of Wyoming; novels are The Wilderness (NY 1823)]; O’Halloran [ ... &c.] (Phil. 1824); The Hearts of Steel, an Irish hist. rom. of the last century (1825); also Meredith (1831); French translations of his work incl. Les Coeurs D’Acier [Hearts of Steel] (Paris 1831).

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Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), cites fiction, The Wilderness, or Braddock’s Times (1823); The Spectre of the Forest (1823); O’Halloran, or the Insurgent Chief … 1798 (1824); The Hearts of Steel (1825); The Betrothal of Wyoming (ca. 1830); Meredith, or the Mystery of the Meschianza (Phil. 1831); Poetry, Bard of Erin (1808); Patrick, a Poetic Tale (1810); The Pleasures of Friendship (1822), and others; Drama, The Usurper, an hist. tragedy, five acts (Phil. 1829). Bibl., James Coleman, Bibl. Soc. of Irel. Public., 2 (1925), 133-39. Biog., Josephine Phelan, The Ardent Exile, the life and Times of Thomas D’Arcy McGee (Toronto 1951); see also J. S. Crone, in Irish Booklover, Vol. 15 (1925).

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