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Short fiction (collections), A Light Dozen (London: Faber 1957); Special Occasions (London: Faber 1960); Wait For It, and Other Stories (London: Faber 1972); Just Turn the Key, and Other Stories (London: Hamish Hamilton 1976).
Childrens Books, My Friend Specs McCann (London: Faber 1955); A Pinch of Salt (London: Faber 1956); Specs Fortissimo (London: Faber 1958); This Happy Morning (London: Faber 1959); Various Specs (London: Faber 1961); Finn and the Black Hog (London: Novello ), [libretto for childrens opera, music by Raymond Warren]; Try These for Size (London: Faber 1963); Toms Tower (London: Faber 1956); I Didnt Invite You to my Party (London: Hamish Hamilton 1967); A Helping Hand (London: Hamilton 1971); Much Too Much Magic (London: Hamilton 1971); The Prisoner in the Park (London: Faber 1971); The Nest Spotters (London: Macmillan 1972); A Fairy Called Andy Perks (London: Hamilton 1973); The Other People (London: Chatto & Windus 1973); The Snow-Clean Pinny (London: Hamilton 1973); Umbrella Thursday and a Helping Hand (Harmondsworth: Puffin 1973); The Family Upstairs (London: Macmillan 1974); The Magic Lollipop (London: Knight Books 1974); We Three Kings (London: Faber 1974); Ever After (London: Chatto & Windus 1975); Go On, Then (London: Macmillan 1975); Growlings (London: Macmillan 1975); My Auntie (London: Macmillan 1975); Billy Brewer Goes on Tour (London: Macmillan 1977); The Day Mum Came Home (London: Macmillan 1977); The Hermits Purple Shirts (London: Macmillan 1977); Look Whos Here (London: Macmillan 1977); The Three Crowns of King Hullaballoo (London: Knight Books 1977).
Plays, Gospel Truth (Belfast: H. R. Carter ); Signs and Wonders ([q.pub.]: 1951); Switch-On, Switch-Off and Other Plays (London: Faber 1968).
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John Cronin, ‘Beasts in the Province”: The Fiction of Janet McNeill, in Munira H. Mutran & Laura P. Z. Izarra, eds., Irish Studies in Brazil [Pesquisa e Crítica, 1] (Sao Paolo: Associação Editorial Humanitas 2005), pp.127-42: Gospel Truth, her prize-winning play of 1946, is a telling indictment of a kind of dreary, Ulster religiosity which was to remain one of her principal fictional targets. Herself a daughter of the manse, she invariably writes with insight and sympathy about Presbyterian ministers but roundly condemns conformity to the letter of a joyless creed. (p.128.) Stephen Cross, the unwitting author of all this emotional havoc, is the first in what will be along line of secually inadequate males in McNeills fictional world. Hansome, clever, idealistic and ruinously well-intentioned, he fails completely to response to Alisons obvious interest in him and his judgement on secual matters is invariably poor. Naively unaware of his effect on women, he offers the comically pretentious Miss Sparrow advice which unfortunatley results in her breaking off her engagement to the church organist, Mr. Thompson. In a lighter vein, McNeill embodies her dislike of  joyless conformity in the excellent comic character of Sam Lumsden [...] a noisy drunkard with a ruinous fondness for poetry, but [...] now a refored character who avoids both the bottle and William Shakespeare with equal zeal. [...] In her novels, McNeill spans a similar religious gamut but moves firmly away from working-class figures like the Lumsdens to concentrate on middle-class, middle-aged Protestants as her exclusive concern. (p.128; see Gospel Truth, in Notes, infra.) Cronin describes The Maiden Dinosaur (1964), in which the liberal minister Mr Ballater refused to provide the anti-Republican rhetoric required by his congregatioin in the wake of an IRA explosion and in which the educated, articulate women who are the novelists principal concern no longer feel any commitment to the faith in which they were reared. (Cronin, p.131.)
John Cronin (‘Beasts in the Province”: The Fiction of Janet McNeill, 2005): McNeills authorial voice has the magisterial acidity of an impatiently intelligent headmistress. She rules her fictional world with such impressive authorit that one can understand the impatience expressed by John Wilson Foster, who [...] clearly values her work so highly that he wishes she had taken more risks. [Quotes J. W. Foster, as supra.] Most of her novels have a Belfast or Ulster setting and one might be forgiven for concluding from a reading of them that Belfast merely consists of the environs of Queens University and a stretch of the Antrim Road above Belfast Lough. A sedulous hunt through the  work might flush out an occasional Catholic servant-girl but, in the main, McNeill purposefuly avoids the more obvious tensions of Ulsters endemic sectarianism and violence. Even when, in As Strangers Here (1960), she permits the I.R.A [IRA]. campaign of the late 1950s quite literally to explode onto the novels early pages, she employs this violent incident only as a prelude to probing various brands of Protestant religiosity and carefully avoids any engagement with political or historical analysis. That she knew and loathed Belfasts sectarian bigotry is abundantly clear but her insights tned to surface in subtly comic scenes rather than in any overt condemnation. (pp.133-34.)
John Cronin (‘Beasts in the Province”: The Fiction of Janet McNeill, 2005): It is possible to relate McNeills muted style to her choice of subject-mater and to see her menopausal, middle-aged[,] middle-class Protestants as appropriately contained within a suitably disciplined prose. To do so, however, leaves out of account the extent to which her stylistic quietism is decided not merely by its suitability to her themes and characters but, fundamentally, as a calculated response by the novelist to her dilemma as a regional writer [...] (p.135.) Quoting her article on Ulster regionalism, as supra], Cronin remarks: ‘The entire article shows that she is attracted by the distinctive idiom of Ulster , conscious of its likely charms for English readers but wary of committing herself to a merely regional voice. Her middle-aged, middle-class Belfast Protestants will not, therefore, be allowed to lapse into any colloquialisms. (p.137.) Cronin lays emphasis on a chapter in The Maiden Dinosaur (1964) when Sarah Vincent and her friend Adie are subjected to literary condescension by Charles McKenna, a radio interviewer, especially the phrases canaries pecking lightly at life and the authors reflection: This is where the beast should have made his entrance, but there was no sign of him. Beasts in the Province are private animals, secretly cossetted. One requires a licence from London or America to justify a public parade. (MD, pp.98-99; here p.139.) This highly entertaining episode is called an arguably unnecessary to the plot but entirely necessary to the author and her most explicit and forceful articulation of her own creative isolation. (p.141.) Sadly, while she pinned down her Charles McKenna with the enviable skill of a talented lepidopterist, she nevertheless, in the long run, chose the Charles McKennas of her world as her audience, thereby doing special violence to her own intelligence [...; 141] she eliminated from her workd anything that might have badged it as merely provincial (p.141-42.)
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The Other Side of the Wall (1956), Dick Fawcett: ‘How could be expect to lay a finger on the pulse of humanity if he was inadequate to the situation in his own home? You cant write like a god and live like a fool. Or was it the fault of the community he lived in? If his interests were provincial and his circle parochial was that to be the measure of his art? The Ulsterman who writes Is always suspect. Dick embraced the old excuse. In this self-conscious Protestant community, the sensuous is condemned with the sensual and temporal beauty offers no foretaste of eternal bliss. Heaven is only black and white, no colours. (161-62.)
‘The Regional Writer and His Problems (address to P.E.N., rep. in Belfast Telegraph, 8 Dec. 1956, p.4: ‘The regional writer from Northern Ireland is not long in discovering when he tries to market his work across the water, that there are some regions in which a book gains by being placed, and others for no reason that a publisher or an agent can explain to him which lose, and that the scales in this case are against him. ‘Primarily, I think, that old bogey, the Stage Irishman, is at the bottom of it. He got there first and, as far as popular appeal goes, he knows all the answers. (p.4) ‘Nobody I know has ever met a Stage Irishman - he shares this honour with the flying saucer - and I dont know enough about the peasant people in the South and West of Ireland to be able to say whether in fact he does exist. ‘We allow our regionalism - our difference - to stick out a mile, but make no effort to explain it. Could we not, when we are outside our own region be a little more willing to discuss ourselves and not quite so surprised when we find out how little other people know about us? (Quoted in John Cronin, op. cit., 2005, pp.130-33; see also under Forrest Reid.)
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Blackstaff Press (Catalogue): The Maiden Dinosaur: plain, perceptive and lonely schoolmistress Sarah Vincent locked in emotional time-warp [with] closed circle of middle-aged schoolfriends; deft, wry novel [by] ... Ulster Molly Keane.
Belfast Central Public Library [to 1956] holds A Child in the House; Gospel Truth (1951); A Light Dozen (1957); My Friend Specs McCann (1955); A Pinch of Salt (1956); Tea at Four OClock (1956).]
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The Maiden Dinosaur (1964), concerning a group of Belfast women who confront their personal relationships and inevitable disappointments together, with humour and sometimes desperate courage, in which the liberal minister Mr Ballater refused to provide the anti-Republican rhetoric required by his congregation in the wake of an IRA explosion; offering a scathing view of the hysteria of mission halls. (See John Cronin, op. cit., 2005, supra.)
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