Jane Barlow (1856-1917)


Life
[supposed pseuds. “Antares Skorpios” and “Felix Ryark” - but see Attributions - infra;] b. 17 Oct., Clontarf, Co. Dublin, eldest dg. and second of seven children of Rev. James William Barlow [1826-1913; MA, FTCD] and Mary Louisa Barlow (his cousin; 1832-94); he was afterwards vice-provost of TCD; see note]; educated at home; well-read in French and German and travelled widely in Europe, and also to Greece and Turkey in her twenties; lived most of her life in “The Cottage”, a substantial thatched house in Raheny, Co. Dublin [now an OP home]; wrote ballads and tales of peasant life in Ireland [var. west of Ireland], chiefly about Lisconnel and Ballyhoy [now Dollymount]; first published fiction in Dublin Univ. Review [TCD], ed. by T. W. Rolleston who compared her with Carleton; her poetry collections include Bog-land Studies (1892); The End of Elfintown (1894), Ghost-Bereft (1901), a narrative poem; The Mockers and Other Verses (1908); Doings and Dealings (1913); Between Doubting and Daring (1916); reputedly admired by Swinburne; issued Irish Idylls (1892), short-story sketches in which Lisconnel is said to stand ‘in the common light of day, a hard fact with no fantastic myths to embellish or disprove it’ ran into 9 editions;
 

a second series appeared as Strangers at Lisconnel (1895), to be followed by Maureen’s Fairing and Other Stories (1895); Mrs Martin’s Company and Other Stories (1896); A Creel of Irish Stories (1897); From the East unto the West (1898); From the Land of the Shamrock (1900); By Beach and Bog Land (1905); Irish Neighbours (1907), and Irish Ways (1909); her novels in the same vein were Kerrigan’s Quality (1894) and The Founding of Fortunes (1902), the tale of an impoverished youth from a bog-cabin home who gets rich by devious means; became an associate-member of the English Society for Psychical Research, April 1895; her father took membership in 1901 and helped establish a Dublin Section in 1908 (ceasing to exist in 1915); Jane joined with Lady Gregory, Hyde, “AE” [George Russell], W. B. Yeats, and others in ‘An Appeal from Irish Authors’ (Freeman’s Journal, 13 Dec. 1904; in The Irish Times, 5 Jan. 1905), protesting the Dublin Corporation’s decision about the Hugh Lane Gallery;

 
received D.Litt from TCD - the first woman to do so - and contrib. to National Literary Society; elected vice-pres. of the Society in 1897; much read in England and America but was increasingly scorned by the literary revivalists in Ireland for her supposedly ‘stage-Irish’ portraits of the people; both George Birmingham and Yeats (only writes about ‘old women and hens’) excluded her from story-collections; suffered from depression in later life; d. 17 April, at St Valerie [a substantial early Victorian house], on the Dargle nr Bray - where she moved with her siblings after their father’s death in 1913; she lived only four years longer than him (according to Katherine Tynan, ‘after her father’s death she just stopped living’); Barlow was a correspondent of Alfred Russel Wallace, the evolutionary scientist [see infra]; an obituary appeared in The Irish Times (18 April 1917); a sister Katharine also became a member of English Society for Pyschical Research in 1918, while James Arthur (d.1932) did likewise in 1929; there is a portrait by Sarah Purser and a photo-port. in was printed in The Monthly (March 1897). ODNB JMC CAB DIW DIB DIL KUN DIH SUTH FDA OCIL [RIA DIB]

Jane Barlow - The Monthly (March 1897)
Jane Barlow - The Monthly (March 1897)

Port. by Sarah Purser (1894)

Unattrib. port - Wikipedia


[ Click each portrait for larger images in separate windows. ]

[ top ]

Works
Poetry
  • Bog-land Studies (London: T. Fisher Unwin 1892), and Do. [enl. edn.] (London: Hodder, Stoughton 1893); Do. [another. edn.] (1894);
  • The End of Elfintown (London: Macmillan 1894);
  • Ghost-Bereft (London: Smith, Elder 1901) [ded. to her mother Mary Louisa Barlow];
  • The Mockers and Other Verses (London: George Allen 1908);
  • Between Doubting and Daring (Oxford: Blackwell 1916).
Digital Editions: Works of Jane Barlow are available at Internet Archive [var. editions]
Poetry: Ghost-Bereft, with Other Stories and Studies in Verse; The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice; The Mockers and Other Verse; The End of Elfintown. Prose: Strangers at Lisconnel; Irish Idylls; A Creel of Irish Stories; Kerrigan's Quality; Bogland Studies; By Beach and Bog-land - Some Irish Stories; The Founding of Fortunes; Mrs Martin’s Company and Other Stories; Irish Ways; From the East Unto the West. (See search results; accessed 15.11.2021 [BS].)
See link to Anne van Weeden’s lost Barlow Books in Internet Archive: In Mio’s Youth; Flaws; Doings and Dealings; Strange Land (by Felix Ryark); Mac’s Adventures - online; notified by van Weeden and accessed 11.03.2022.
Short fiction
  • Irish Idylls (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1892; 5th edn., 1895), viii, 284pp.; another edn. (NY: Dodd, Mead & Co. 1894), viii, [2], 317pp. [see UK & US covers - as infra].
  • The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, rendered into English by Jane Barlow, pictured by Francis D. Bedford (London: Methuen 1894) [priced £125 at Picclick - online; accessed 10.08.2018].
  • Maureen’s Fairing and Other Stories (London: J. M. Dent; NY: Macmillan 1895), and Do. [rep. edn.] (NY: Books for Libraries Press 1972);
  • Strangers at Lisconnel: A Second Series of Irish Idylls (London: Hodder & Stoughton; NY: Dodd, Mead 1895);
  • Mrs Martin’s Company and Other Stories (London: Dent 1896), xii, 218pp.;
  • A Creel of Irish Stories (London: Methuen & Co. 1897; NY: Dodd, Mead 1898) [ded. to her father, James William Barlow];
  • From the East unto the West (London: Methuen & Co. 1898) [ded. “to Katharine” [her sister], 395pp. [stories incl. “The Evil Abeyooyahs: A Tale of the Great Red Desert” (p.[1]-37; in 3 chaps.); “The Puzzle of Jarbek” (pp.37ff); “The Field of the Frightful Beasts” (p.168ff.), “A Long Furrow” (p.201-16), “Her Bit of Money” (p.265-87.) and “Pilgrims from Lisconnel” (p.323ff.); available online]
  • From the Land of the Shamrock (NY: Dodd, Mead 1900; London: Methuen 1901);
  • At the Back of Beyond (NY: Dodd, Mead and Company 1902) [see Haathi Trust copy - online];
  • By Beach and Bog Land (London: T. Fisher Unwin 1905);
  • Irish Neighbours (London: Hutchinson & Co. 1907), viii, 342pp. [ded. to her father James William Barlow];
  • Irish Ways (London: George Allen 1909; rep. 1970);
  • Mac’s Adventures (London: Hutchinson & Co. 1911) [“A Luncheon Party”, “A Formidable Rival”, “Mac’s Way’s and Means”, “Some Jokes of Timothy”, “A Wedding Gown”, “The Field of Frightful Beasts”, “The Aunt of the Savages”, “An Invincible Ignoramus”] - see Victorian Novels online; accessed 10.08.2018.]
  • Doings and Dealings (London: Hutchinson & Co. 1913).

Note: Doings and Dealings (1913) is often listed as poetry and said to have been admired by Swinburne but is actually a short-story collection [see in Internet Archive - online].

Novels
  • Kerrigan’s Quality (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1894);
  • The Founding of Fortunes (London: Methuen 1902), 335pp.;
    Flaws (London: Hutchinson 1912), pp.344. [see note];
  • In Mio’s Youth: A Novel (London: Hutchinson, 1917), 340pp. [posthum.].
Note: the novels A History of a World of Immortals without God: translated from an Unpublished Manuscript in the Library of a Continental University, by “Antares Skorpios” (Dublin: William McGee; London: Simpkin, Marshall 1891) and A Strange Land, by “Felix Ryark” (London: Hutchinson 1908) were conventionally ascribed to Jane Barlow but are now regarded as the work of her father James William Barlow. The Historywas withdrawn in 1892, possibly as interfering with sales of Jane's Irish Idylls in that year, and later republished in 1909 under a new title as The Immortals’ Great Quest, with James William Barlow as the title-page author. The second, a science-fiction story in broadly the same intellectual mould of futuristic fantasy, continues to be considered the work of Jane Barlow by some, and have been attributed to James William Barlow by others. See Attributions & Misattributions - infra.
Anthologised (sel.)
  • Humours of Irish Life, with an in trod. by Charles L. Graves [Everyman’s Irish Library; Irish Education Co.] (London: T. Fisher Unwin [1913]) - incls. “Quin’s Rick” (p.200ff.) and “The Test of Truth” (307ff) - available online; accessed 22.10.2018).
  • Stories by English Authors - Ireland (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1899), incls. “A Lost Recruit” [from Pall Mall Mag.,; along with stories by Samuel Lever [The Gridiron], George Jessop [The Emergency Men], John Banim [The Rival Dreamers], William Carleton {Neal Malone], & Anonymous [The Banshee] - available online; accessed 22.10.2018)
Discography
  • Barlow’s Irish Idylls, read by James E. Carson (Librivox 2013) [see remarks];
  • Strangers in Lisconnel, read by James E. Carson (1895; Librivox 2013).

Irish Idylls (London)

Irish Idylls (London 1892; NY 1894)

Doings & Dealings (1913)

[ top ]

Worldcat lists:
  • Irish Idylls - 37 edns. between 1892 and 1984 in English held by 429 libraries worldwide
  • A Creel of Irish Stories - 16 edns. between 1897 and 1984 in English held by 268 libraries worldwide
  • Irish ways - 9 edns. between 1909 and 1970 in English held by 222 libraries worldwide
  • Strangers at Lisconnel. A Second Series of Irish idylls - 12 edns. between 1895 and 1984 in English held by 185 libraries worldwide
  • Bog-land Studies - 17 edns. between 1892 and 1992 in English held by 150 libraries worldwide
  • Maureen’s Fairing and Other Stories - 13 edns. between 1895 and 1984 in English held by 146 libraries worldwide
  • The End of Elfintown - 8 edns. between 1894 and 1992 in English held by 117 libraries worldwide
  • From the Land of the shamrock - 6 edns. between 1900 and 1984 in English held by 82 libraries worldwide
  • Kerrigan’s Quality - 9 edns. between 1894 and 1984 in English held by 79 libraries worldwide
  • The Founding of Fortunes - 8 edns. between 1902 and 1984 in English held by 61 libraries worldwide
—See Worldcat online; accessed 31.10.2011.

Attributions & Misattributions
The following pseudonym novels conventionally attributed to Janes Barlow were probably written by Rev. James Barlow:
  • A History of a World of Immortals without God: translated from an Unpublished Manuscript in the Library of a Continental University, by “Antares Skorpios” (Dublin: William McGee; London: Simpkin, Marshall 1891), xi, 177pp., 19cm. [copy in TCD Lib.]; Do. [rep. edn.] as The Immortals’ Great Quest / translated from an unpublished manuscript in the library of a continental university by J[ames] W[illiam] Barlow (London; Smith, Elder & Co. 1909), xii, 177pp.; 20cm/8° [details at COPAC online cite copies in copyright libraries TCD, Oxford, Cambridge; Nat. Lib. of Scotland; BL [known to be by JWB]. See copy at Interet Archive - online; accessed 15.11.2021.
  • A Strange Land, by “Felix Ryark” (London: Hutchinson 1908) [still disputed].
It appears that Jane Barlow herself employed the pseudonym “Antares Skorpios” - thus leading to the assumption that she was the author of A History of a World ... without God which is now known to have been written by her father, James Barlow. In a correspondence with RICORSO, Anne van Weerden who writes that the second edition (1909) - which bears a variant title and James William Barlow’s own name - is really the same book with an added preface. She further argues on stylistic grounds that A Strange Land by “Felix Ryark” [pseud.] was probably written by James William also. She thus writes: ‘For a long time there was confusion about who wrote it, as can be seen from the note on the title page. The novel was soon withdrawn, perhaps because its mixed reviews might harm the reception of Jane’s first publication in 1892. It was republished in 1909, under James William’s own name, as The Immortals’ Great Quest.’ (Catherine Disney, 2019 - which incorporates her examination of the writings of Jane and William Barlow - online; accessed 15.11.2021.)
 Elsewhere, she remarks that the most compelling evidence that Jane Barlow did not write the History of a World of Immortals without God has been found in a letter of hers [Jane Barlow] to Alfred Russel Wallace of 1901 in which ‘she names her father as the author’ according to Maria Devine, who found the letter (In the Common Light of Day [MA Thesis], Carlow: Institute of Technology 2017, p.8 - available online).’ Van Weerden also argues that A Strange Land (1908), published under the pseudonym “Felix Ryark”, was probably written by Jane’s father, calling it ‘a novel by Felix Ryark [which] is for me beyond doubt by James William Barlow, but also ascribed to Jane Barlow’, in her list of works by the Barlows (Catherine Disney, 2019). By contrast, Jack Fennell remarks in his study of James William Barlow that ‘the traditional “found utopia” was still making occasional appearances too, as in Jane Barlow’s A Strange Land (1908), when no interplanetary journey is necessary.’ (Fennell, ‘James William Barlow (1826-1913)’, in The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, 18, Samhain 2021, p.32.) [Fennell cites Van Weerden in connection with Barlow Snr’s unorthodox theology and gives her lists her Catherine Disney (2019) in his bibliography though without a page reference [see infra].

Bibl.: Anne van Weerden, A Catherine Disney: A Biographical Sketch (Stedum: J. Fransje van Weerden 2019) - with revised version online; and Jack Fennell, ‘James William Barlow (1826-1913)’, in The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, 18 [Swan River Press] (Samhain 2021), pp.29-36, p.32; available at JSTOR - online; accessed 15.11.2021.]

 
Notes on publications of James William Barlow
 
Works of James William Barlow listed in Stephen Brown, SJ, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin 1919)

1] Fr. Stephen Brown calls A History of a World of Immortals Without God (Dublin: William McGee; London: Simpkin, Marshall 1891) a work of Utopian sci-fi concerning the planet Venus which is often attrib. to Jane Barlow but was actually written by her father, Rev. James Barlow. Brown also remarks that Mac’s Adventures and Mice and Men [recte The Battle of the Frogs and Mice] appears to be by Barlow Snr. (Brown, Ireland in Fiction, 1919).

2] Other titles by James William Barlow include De origini mali: An essay concerning Modern Scientific Atheism (Dublin: Hodges & Figgis 1871), q.pp. [held at BL and TCD] and Doctors at War: Studies in the French Medical Profession circa the 17th Century (London: Nutt [1914]), 144pp. [BL, Oxon., NLWales, UEdin, Wellcome; both listed in JISC Literary Hub - online; noticed by Anne van Weerden, 25.06.2019].

Works of James William Barlow listed in COPAC [Nov. 2021]
  • Eternal Punishment and Eternal Death: An Essay (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1865);
  • De Origine Mali: An Essay Concerning Modern Scientific Atheism (Dublin: Hodges, Foster, & Co., 1871);
  • History of Ireland during the period of parliamentary independence. A lecture (Dublin, 1873);
  • The Ultimatum of Pessimism (London, K. Paul, Trench, & co., 1882).
Works of James William Barlow listed in World Catalogue [Nov. 2021]
  • The Peacock, the Baboon, and the Money Spinners: A Newly Discovered Unedited Poem, by James William Barlow (Mexico: q.pub.1841) [unlikely to be the father of Jane Barlow by virtue of date: ed.];
  • Remarks on Some Recent Publications Concerning Future Punishment (Dublin: William McGee, 1865);
  • De Origine Mali: An Essay Concerning Modern Scientific Atheism (Dublin : Hodges, Foster, & Co., Grafton-street., 1872);
  • The Ultimatum of Pessimism, An Ethical Study (London, K. Paul, Trench, & Co., 1882);
  • A Short History of the Normans in South Europe (London : K. Paul, 1886);
  • Doctors at War; Studies of the French Medical Profession circa the 17th century (London: Nutt 1914) [2 edns.];
  • History of a World of Immortals Without a God: Translated from an Unpublished Manuscript in the Library of a Continental University (Dublin: McGee 1891);
  • The Immortals' Great Quest: translated from an unpublished manuscript in the library of a continental university, by J. W. Barlow] (Dublin: W. McGee 1891) [rep. as History of a World ... &c., 1909];
But see Bibliography of Utopian Literature in English on A Strange Land by Felix Ryark (1908): ‘Sometimes ascribed to her father, James William Barlow (1826-1913), but Rolf Loeber and Magda Loeber with Anne Mullin Burnham, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006) lists it as by Jane Barlow adding that the original written catalog of the National Library of Ireland ‘has it by her.’ (Utopian Literature in English: Annotated Bibliography, by Lyman Tower Sargent - Available online; noticed by Anne van Weerden - 24.06.2019.) [See also synopsis, infra.]
See also COPAC listing for A History of a World of Immortals without God (1891) [held at TCD] with the note: ‘Both [M.B.] Stillwell and [Samuel] Halkett &[John] Laing [Dictionary of anonymous and pseudonymous English literature, Edin: Oliver & Boyd 1926-62] erroneously attributed the pseudonym [“Antares Skorpios”] to James Barlow’s daughter (Glenn Negley, Utopia literature: A Bibliography [Regents’ Press of Kansas 1977], p.10.’) [See COPAC > James Barlow, History [... &c.] - as supra; accessed 25.06.2019].

[ For extracts from works of Jane Barlow and James William Barlow - see Index ]

[ top ]

Criticism
Older notices
  • ‘Chronicle and Comment’, in The Bookman: A Literary Journal, Vol. 2 [1895-96] Dec. 1895) [as infra];
  • Ernest Boyd, Ireland’s Literary Revival (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1922), pp.209-11;
  • Katharine Tynan, ‘Jane Barlow’, in Memories (London 1924), pp.291-95 [chap.; see extract]
  • W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival: Its History, Pioneers and Possibilities (London: Paternoster Steam Press 1894), p.146 [see extract];
  • W. B. Yeats, Commentary on a list of ‘Thirty Best Irish Books’, in Dublin Daily Express (27 Feb. 1895 ) [Wade, ed., Letters, pp.246-51; p.248; see extract];
  • W. J. Paul, Modern Irish Poetry (Belfast Steam Printing Co. Ltd. 1897), Vol. II, p.108 [see extract];
  • J. M. Synge, “The Old and New in Ireland”, in The Academy and Literature (6 Sept. 1902), rep. Collected Works, ed. Alan Price (London: OUP 1966), [Vol. II: Prose], pp.383-86, p.383 [see extract].

See remarks in Irish Book Lover, ed. J. S. Crone, Vols. IV: 46, VIII: 141; also Rev. J. W. Barlow, V: 15.

Recent notices
  • Maria Devine, ‘In the common light of day’: Gender and Socio-political Issues in Jane Barlow’s Early Prose Fiction – Irish Idylls (1892), Kerrigan’s Quality (1894), and The Founding of Fortunes (1902) [MA Thesis] (Carlow: Institute of Technology 2017) - available online).
  • Jack Fennell, ‘10 Irish Fiction Authors’, in The Guardian (19 Dec. 2018) [as infra].
  • —, ‘James William Barlow (1826-1913)’, in The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, 18 [Swan River Press] (Samhain 2021), pp.29-36 [available at JSTOR - online; accessed 15.11.2021.

See also Anne van Weerden, Catherine Disney: A Biographical Sketch (Stedum: J. Fransje van Weerden 2019) at Internet Archive - online, with revised version online [accessed 15.11.2021]. Van Weerden’s study incorporates extensive comments on bibliographical questions surrounding the pseudonymous publications of Jane Barlow and her father James William Barlow.

[ See also the entry in Wikipedia. ]

[ top ]

Jane Barlow is cited in the papers of Katherine Tynan - viz.

‘It must have been February or March, and outside the windows of the long, spacious drawing-room [...] the sky was cold grey. It was a beautiful room, with an organ at the end. That alone speaks for the spaciousness of it. There were portraits on the walls, many pictures and books, a piano, bibelots of one kind or another, the things a cultivated mind and taste gathers through the generations. There was a glorious fire, and everywhere there were growing violets and lilies of the valley; hyacinths perhaps. The room was sharply sweet. [...] The house was very silent except sometimes when the father played the organ. He must usually have been absent in the daytime, – at Trinity College probably, where he had become Vice-Provost. [...] The walls were brown-panelled, sometimes hidden in books. Mr Barlow was an omnivorous reader of novels. At the stair-head, outside the drawing-room door was that particular and attractive portion of the library. We always went away with armfuls. [...] There was always a little time when she and I were alone in her room upstairs, under the thatch, when we talked quietly of our secret and sacred things. It was a dim, long room full of a girl’s and a woman’s treasures.’

Further: ‘Jane Barlow never recovered from the grief of her mother’s death, though she kept a hold on life while her father lived: a very gentle sequestered, twilit life. In those years before the shadow finally descended upon her, she had still the energy for friendships.’ (‘Jane Barlow’, in Tynan, Memories, London 1924, p.295.)


See Jane Barlow’s correspondence with Alfred Russel Wallace: ‘My beloved Father passed away in July, and I am so lonely without him that were it not for the hope of reunion beyond this world, I should quite despair.’ (Letter of 23 Oct. 1913; available at Natural History Museum - online; noticed by Anne van Weerden, 10.04.2019.)

See also The Alfred Robert Wallace Page which contains an allusion to Jane Barlow in the record of an interview of Wallace conducted by “A.D.” (?Albert Dawson) which appeared in The Bookman (Jan. 1898) - available online. In it, Wallace purportedly ‘spoke of Miss Jane Barlow, who was recently in Parkstone, as “one of the most delightful writers of the day”, making particular reference to Irish Idylls. (Noticed by Anne van Weerden in correspondence with RICORSO, 15.11.2021.) Note: Wallace is regarded as a contender for the title of discoverer of Evolutionary Theory usually bestowed on Charles Darwin.

See also letter of 29 Dec. 1901 - as attached.

[ top ]

Commentary

See The Bookman: A Literary Journal (Dec. 1895), 260-62 - as infra.

W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival: Its History, Pioneers and Possibilities (London: Paternoster Steam Press 1894), remarks: ‘Jane Barlow’s Irish Idylls are a luminous index to young Irish authors of that world of appealing humanity which is still to be found by observant eyes in Irish local life ... When Rolleston was editing the Dublin University Review her first poem came to him anonymously. He was at once struck with its power, but the “brogue” did not wholly pass muster. Several such pieces were afterwards given to the world in Bogland Studies (1892). Irish writers whose early attempts are scorned of some critics may take courage from the example and fate of this first offering. United Ireland welcomed it, and saw its promise; but several critics could make nothing of it. They shrugged their shoulders over the ‘brogue’ and the whole form, confessed their inability to read it, and cast it away. Afterwards when Irish Idylls made a stir, and the ‘studies’ were brought up again on the strength of it they found less frosty audience. Miss Barlow now finds herself amongst our foremost writers, with every encouragement to go on and prosper. She lives at Raheny, Co. Dublin, where her father (a TCD man) is vicar. (Ryan, p.146). [Incl. note to the effect that Barlow disparages the brogue in Irish literature as unnatural in her Preface to Lisconell [sic] and is praised by others for avoiding it.]

W. J. Paul, Modern Irish Poetry (Belfast Steam Printing Co. Ltd. 1897), Vol. II, contains a biographical sketch in which her home in Raheny is described as ‘a cottage with a thatched roof and quaint little windows peeping out amnong the climbing roses that cover it. Its antiquity is attested by its mud walls - a genuine bit of Irish architecture.’ Further: ‘Miss Barlow herself is a slender young woman, with somewhat of humility and shyness in her manner. For society she has no inclination; hers is one of those natures that strikes its deepest roots at home’. Paul relates that she sent “Walled Out; or, Eschatology in a Bog” to the Dublin University Magazine, and that the editor was obliged to advertise for the author. Paul remarks, ‘No one, since Carleton, has depicted the Irish peasant with his manysided character, so natural and so real as she. It is surprising how attractive and fascinating this homely and unpretentious class of Irishman becomes when described by the hand of genius. He rises before us and relates the story of his joys and sorrows. As he does so, one can almost fancy they hear the tone of his voice. She is full of sympathy for her subject. She writes of Ireland animated by a desire to show the actual life of the people in its mingled humour and pathos. That she has done so with success every reader of her character-sketches, with any knowledge of the subject, will readily admit.’ (p.108).

W. B. Yeats: Yeats wrote: ‘... I have regretfully excluded Miss Barlow’s Irish Idylls because, despite her genius for recording the externals of Irish peasant life, I do not feel that she has got deep into the heart of things.’ (Commentary on his list of thirty Irish best books, in Dublin Daily Express, 27 Feb. 1895; Letters, ed., Wade, pp.246-51; p.248; see further under Emily Lawless and W. B. Yeats). George Birmingham also excluded Barlow’s Irish Idylls from a collection he edited.

Hannah Lynch [q.v.], lecturing on Irish writers in Paris, 1896, singled out Emily Lawless’s novels Grania and Hurrish, and Jane Barlow’s Irish Idylls. These, she informed her audience, were “undoubtedly the best stories the young school of Irish Celts has produced”. (See Faith Binckes and Kathryn Laing on Lynch in The Irish Times, 26 July 2019 - online.

[ top ]

J. M. Synge “The Old and New in Ireland”, in The Academy and Literature (6 Sept. 1902), rep. Collected Works, ed. Alan Price (London: OUP, 1966), [Vol. II: Prose], pp.383-86: ‘Ten years ago, in the summer of 1892, an article on Literary Dublin, by Miss Barlow, author of Bogland Studies and some other charming work, appeared in a leading English weekly. After dealing with Professor Mahaffy, some other Irish writers, and the periodicals of Dublin, she summed up in these words: “This bird’s eye view has revealed no brilliant prospect, and the causes of dimness considered, it is difficult to point out any quarter of the horizon as a probable source of rising light.” / No one who knows Ireland and Irish life will be likely to charge Miss Barlow with lack of insight, although when she wrote the literary movement which is now so apparent was beginning everywhere through the country’ (p.383).

Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde: The Dawn Of The Irish Revolution And Renaissance, 1874-1893 (Dublin: Irish University Press 1974), cites Hyde’s diary entry of 8 Feb. 1893, in which Hyde meets Jane Barlow, the self-effacing ‘incognita’ and friend of Sarah Purser. (p.160.) In a footnote, Daly quotes W. B. Yeats’s account of Barlow in The Bookman (Aug. 1895): ‘She is master over the circumstances of peasant life, and has observed with a delightful care no Irish writer has equalled, the coming and going of hens and chickens on the doorstep, the gossiping of old women over their tea, the hiding of children under the shadows of the thorn trees, the broken and decaying thatch of the cabins, and the great brown stretches of bogland; but seems to know nothing of the exultant and passionate life Carleton celebrated, or to shrink from its roughness and its tumult’ (Daly, op. cit., p.221).

Stephen Brown, S.J., Ireland in Fiction (Maunsel 1919) - Remarks on Flaws (1912): exceptionally involved plot; four whole new sets of characters; minute observtion [..] of character; picturesque conversations; .. caste [of] spiteful, petty, small-minded and generally disagreeable personag, es. The are nearly all drawn from the middle and pper classes in the South of Ireland, Protestant and Anglicised. The snobbishmess, petty jealousies, selfishness of some of these people is set forth in a vein of satire. The incidents include an unusually tragic suicide. (Stephen Brown, S. J., Ireland in Fiction (1919). pp.21-22. For sundry remarks on her stories and novels See Brown - as attached.)

[ top ]

Benedict Kiely, Poor Scholar: A Study Of The Works And Days Of William Carleton, 1794-1869 (London: Sheed & Ward 1947; rep. Dublin: Talbot Press, 1972): ‘The black shadow spreads out over the century and over the writers of the century. Jane Barlow who, according to T. W. Rolleston, closely resembled Carleton, and who, as far as Irish fiction was concerned, helped at the deathbed of the nineteenth century, found for her imagination and her art a small village of poor people in a western bog. The bogland around Lisconnel was lonely, but it was, in a sombre fashion, colourful. “Heath, rushes, furze, ling, and the like have woven it thickly, their various tints merging, for the most part, into one uniform brown, with a few rusty streaks in it, as if the weather-beaten fell of some huge primaeval beast were stretched smoothly over the flat plain. Here and there, however, the monochrome will be broken: a white gleam comes from a tract where the breeze is deftly unfurling the silky bog-cotton tufts on a thousand elfin distaffs; or a rich glow, crimson and dusky purple dashed with gold, betokens the profuse mingling of furze and heather blooms; or a sunbeam, glinting across some little grassy esker, strikes out a strangely jewel-like flash of transparent green.”’ [Cont.]

Benedict Kiely, Poor Scholar [...] (rep. edn. 1972): ‘Jane Barlow called that book of stories about Lisconnel by the name Irish Idylls (Hodder & Stoughton, 1892) and Ireland is one of those odd countries in which it is almost always possible to uncover something of the idyllic. But even in Jane Barlow’s coloured land the bog could turn grey and stiffen with frost, the cut wind could blow blighting, corrupting blackness into the seed-potatoes on which life in Lisconnel depended. Faces could lengthen and heads shake, superurtious minds draw omens from the flickering white flights of sea-grills over the bog, from the gloomy croaking and flapping of passing herons, from “the long trains of wild duck, scudding by like trails of smoke.” A man, distraught with famine-fever, could bolt himself and his children into the cabin while the woman of the house went searching for food; and when she returned her husband was too weak to answer her battering at the door. In the morning he and his children were dead in the cabin, the mother dead outside on the ground, and in Lisconnel they said her tormented spirit battered night after night on the closed and bolted door. (Irish Idylls, n.p.; Kiely, op. cit., p.136.)

Patricia Boylan, All Cultivated People: A History of The United Arts Club, Dublin (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988), makes reference to her support for the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery in 1905 (p.7). Also notes that she was published by Rolleston as editor of Dublin University Review (p.10), and quotes Winifred Letts’s sketch of her: ‘I see Jane Barlow, in a wind-blown cloak; a spirit just made tangible in slender form and pale colouring, austere, shy, delicately strong; an exquisite poet ...’ [from Knockmaroon] (pp.108-09). [Note: it was at a party given by Winifred Letts that Jane Barlow broke off her friendship with Katharine Tynan; information given by Anne van Weerden (Utrecht).]

[ top ]

J. W. Foster, Irish Novels 1890-1940: New Bearings in Culture and Fiction (Oxford UP 2008): ‘One can see a tentative departure in this direct [i.e., a newly inaugurated Irish fiction that avoids the revival’s project of ‘recovery of the Irish peasants as real human beings’] in Irish Idylls (1892) by Jane Barlow, daughter of a Reverend Vice-Provosts of Trinity [2] College Dublin. This was a very popular set of stories in which the Connemara peasant is portrayed respectfully and fairly knowledgeably (the speech pattersn and idioms are there, even if rather unlocalised), though the note of condescension is impossible to miss, likewise the feeling that the Victorian eloquence of the storyteller is itself civilising, as it were, her quaint subjects, despite a textural density of prose that confers its own respect on its subjects.’ (pp.2-3.) [Cont.]

J. W. Foster (Irish Novels 1890-1940, 2008) - cont. ‘Rehearsal did not deepen her fiction into a pervasive sense of social malaise of some remediable kind. IN the opening sketch of Irish Ways (1909), Barlow identified three popular Irelands she was eschewing: pitiable Ireland, sentimental Ireland, and glamorously Celtic Ireland. She offered instead a fourth Ireland, what we might call uniquely ineffable Ireland, its “atmosphere, elusive, impalpable, with the property of lending aspects bewilderingly various to the same things seen from different points of view” (Irish Ways, 1911 Edn., p.3.), an Ireland essentially beyond the range of real reform, even if desirable.’ In Irish Ways only one practical step might be taken toward alleviate the penury of the west of Ireland: mobile lending libraries, around which she builds one story, “An Unseen Romance”. Barlow turned - I almost said “reverted” - to what she knew thoroughly, life in the country house, in such a novel as Flaws (1911).’

Obiter dicta: Foster speaks of the ‘all too realistic minor gentry’ in this ‘dull and interminable novel’ which proves that ‘Barlow was at home solely at the precise distance from her characters she maintained in her peasant stories.’ (p.3.)

James E. Carson— reading Barlow’s Irish Idylls & Strangers at Lisconnel (Librivox 2013):

Remarks are quoted in the publisher’s note to Irish Idylls (1892) [quoted]: ‘So, by hook or by crook, Lisconnel holds together from year to year, with no particular prospect of changes; though it would be safe enough to prophesy that should any occur, they will tend towards the falling in of derelict roofs, and the growth of weeds round deserted hearthstones and crumbling walls.’ Carson writes: ‘Although of high social standing, I suspect she might have been a “left-footer” but maybe not, her sympathies lying so dramatically with local Irish peasants of her acquaintance. She portrays a decided antipathy toward English rule/subjection of these peasants along with a rather stark anti-clerical and anti-religious leaning, which I find somewhat unusual for the time.’

Further, on Strangers at Lisconnel (1895): ‘[..] a sequel to Jane Barlow’s Irish Idylls. The locations and most of the characters are common to both. There is great humor and concomitantly a certain melancholy in most of these stories of the most rural of rural places in Ireland. Although of a higher social class than her characters, Our Jane seems to have a touch of softness in her heart for their utter simplicity, abject poverty and naiveté. From the following brief example of dialogue, can be seen that Ms Barlow could only have come to write these words after having heard them countless times in person: Mrs. Kilfoyle: ’I declare, now, you’d whiles think things knew what you was manin’ in your mind, and riz themselves up agin it a’ purpose to prevint you, they happen that conthráry.’ Although Jane Barlow did not consider her poetry worthwhile, the rythmn and music of her prose is magical to the ear.’ (See online; accessed 22.10.2018.)

Jack Fennell, ‘10 Irish Fiction Authors’, in The Guardian (19 Dec. 2018) - on Jane Barlow: ‘Sometimes under her own name, and sometimes as “Felix Ryark,” Barlow wrote across a variety of genres, from Oriental fantasies to quaint tales of Irish country life, but her sci-fi always has an uncomfortable existential edge: the novel History of a World of Immortals Without a God - has a misanthropist from Earth plunging the immortal inhabitants of Venus into never-ending despair, while her short story “An Advance Sheet” marries predestination and a Nietzschean “eternal return” to create a horrifying universe without variety or freedom.’ (Fennell, ‘James William Barlow (1826-1913)’, in The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, 18 [Swan River Press] (Samhain 2021), pp.29-36 [available at JSTOR - online; accessed 15.11.2021. Note: Fennell cites the Internet Archive copy of the novel.)

Jack Fennell, ‘10 Irish Fiction Authors’, in The Guardian (19 Dec. 2018).
-Available online; accessed 23.06.2019; see further infra.

Jack Fennell, ‘James William Barlow (1826-1913)’, in The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, 18 [Swan River Press] (Samhain 2021), pp.29-36: ‘[...] Barlow’s theological outlook, influenced by his mother’s suicide attempt and the traumatic revelations of her romance with Hamilton, was unorthodox. He repudiated the doctrine of damnation, and argued against the notion that God would sentence a wayward soul to eternal punishment in Hell: instead, he maintained that the end of the soul was a return to the nothingness from which it had emerged at birth - a belief scholar Anne van Weerden puts forward in her biographical sketch Catherine Disney [2019], and feels was likely inspired by his mother’s description of the peace she had felt following her suicide attempt. In 1959 Barlow made this the central theme of a sermon he gave in the Trinity College chapel, and as a result he was publicly rebuked by Rev. Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin, a turn of events so scandalous that it took up most of Barlow’s obituaty in the Freeman’s Journal fifty-four years later. He was stripped of his licence to preach or officiate any religious services - the reason given in an account in the Freeman’s Journal being that his theological conclusions were “unsound”. He published these arguments in Eternal Punishment and Eternal Death (1865), and there is no denying their echoes in his sole work of fiction, “which, like everything else he wrote, displayed great originality” (Freeman’s Journal, 7 July 1913).’ (Jack Fennell, ‘James William Barlow (1826-1913)’, in The Green Book: Writings on Irish Gothic, Supernatural and Fantastic Literature, 18, Samhain/Winter 2021, p.30 - available at JSTOR - online; accessed 15.11.2021.] [Note: Fennell supplies no footnote reference for Van Weerden but cites her works on Sir William Rowan Hamilton (2017) and on Catherine Disney (2109) in his bibliography listing.]

See also Fennell’s remarks on James Wm. Barlow’s sci-fi novel: ‘History of a World of Immortals Without a God was published in Dublin in 1891 with the suitably Swiftian sub-title: Translated from an Unpublished Manuscript in the Library of a Continental University. This first edition was published under the name of “Antares Skorpios”, a pseudonym his daughter Jane Barlow had used for some of her own work. This has given rise to the occasional misrepresentation of Jane Barlow as the novel’s author. [Goes on to give a summary of History, which follows the story of Gervaas Varken, a ship’s surgeon who finds himself on Venus, ‘a world without hardship where universal equality is taken for granted’ (Fennell, p.31) - and without animal slaughter or bureaucracy (teachers, bankers, policemen) where there is no sexual reproduction and equal rights for women. (op. cit., p.31.)

Confusion of authors: Fennell quotes an Irish Times review of 1 March 1909 in which the reviewer writes: ‘It is curious to see the distinguished author at his advanced age venturing into a field where his daughter, Miss Jane Barlow, has long enjoyed such a high reputation.’ (Fennell, p.34.) He continues: ‘Jane had previously confirmed James Barlow’s authorship of the novel in a letter to Rev. Alfred Russel [sic] Wallace on 29 Dec. 1901, when she thanked the clergyman for his appreciation of her “Father’s romance’, further commenting [34]: “he has no doubt the Hesperian scientists soon found their hypothesis of a storm-causing satellite untenable, and that he agrees with you about the impossibility of so extensive a circle of acquaintances for people possessing merely human memory, but thinks it would be hard to fix limits, for the development of the faculty among Hesperians.”’ (Letter in British Library; here pp.34-35.)

[ top ]

Quotations

Extracts from the following texts by Jane Barlow and James William Barlow: Index
Works by Jane Barlow
Strangers at Lisconnel (1895) Irish Ways (1909) In Mio’s Youth (1917)
Works by James William Barlow
History of .. Independent Parliament (1873) The Immortals’ Great Quest ([1891] 1909) Doctors at War .. 17th France (1914)
Shorter extracts
Strangers at Lisconnel (1895)
These, however, were evidently not the most prized portion of Mr. Polymathers’s library, though he displayed them with some complacency, reading out here and there a sonorous “furrin” phrase, at which his audience said, “More power,” and “Your sowl to glory,” and the like. It was when he handled the shabbiest of the volumes, with broken backs and edges all curling tatters, that his touch grew caressing. The lookers-on, contrariwise, thought but poorly of them because they set up, seemingly, to be illustrated works, and their pictures, mostly of uninteresting round and three-cornered objects, struck Lisconnel art critics as very feeble efforts. To be sure Mr. Polymathers called them dygrims, but that was no help to the overtaxed imagination. Only young Nicholas O’Beirne listened intently to the explanation which he gave of one of them. Nicholas was a long, thin lad, with melancholy grey eyes and a square forehead, whose capacity his grandfather had held in some esteem, since it had been discovered, years ago, that “the spalpeen could make out an account for four sets of shoes, and half a stone of three-inch holdfasts, and a dozen of staples, and two gallon of the crathur, and allow for a hundredweight of ould iron, all in his head, and right to a farthin’.” Now the melancholy eyes darkened and brightened with excitement as Mr. Polymathers discoursed of right lines and angles and circles, and expounded the mysterious signification of certain Ah Bay Says. And he had thenceforward an unweariable pupil in Nicholas, companied, albeit with less ardent zeal, and at a slower rate of progress, by his elder brother, Dan. [...; cont.]
 
Irish Ways (1909)
But a change crept over her frame of mind as she waited and waited on the platform at the dreary little Garville station. It began when the ten o'clock train, in which Tom had promised to come, arrived without any such passenger; and from thenceforward her spirits were continually to sink. They dropped to a lower level with each train that went by, some rushing through in a dusty whirlwind, some stopping to give her a few minutes of agonised suspense, ending always in dismayed disappointment; for not one brought sight or sign of Tom Clancy. As the afternoon wore away, slowly and yet heart-sickeningly fast, all her surroundings became to her like a sort of hateful nightmare, in which the most detestable features were the stolid stationmaster and the inquisitive porter. At last in desperation she quitted her dismal waiting-place, and resolved to return home. The best chance that she could conjecture wherewith to encourage herself in her sorely discomfited retreat, was that some trivial accident had for the time being vexatiously hindered Tom from carrying out his intentions; but her imagination would not forbear, of course, to conjure up occurrences far more alarming. It struck her, for instance, that his possession of her cattle might have got him into some terrible difhculty with the police authorities, from whose clutches her own testimony. perhaps, alone could extricate him; and this thought made her fret at the lagging pace of her long tedious drive and walk. [...; cont.]
 
In Mio’s Youth (1917)

Their exodus from Letterbrack was not altogether as abrupt as Captain Delaney had at first been disposed to decree. He modified his views on that point during a conversation with Mrs. Armitage, by which he brought her to share, or at least act upon, his way of thinking.
 “You must admit,” he urged her, “that it’s not natural for a small boy to find his summum bonum in sitting hall the day with a blind man, and working at mathematics from clumsy instructions. But find it he does at present, and the thing mustn’t go on.”
 “He might easily light on worse summums bonums,” Mrs. Armitage said with inelegant latinity. “However, I see that it will be better to take him away.” So it was arranged that Mrs. Armitage should with as little delay as might be, take up her abode close to a super-excellent preparatory school at Cheltenham; and that the Christmas holidays should be spent abroad, probably in the South of France, where both climate and language were attractions. Letterbrack would see the Armitages no more, for Captain Delaney’s self-renouncing ordinance was to be a thorough-going one. These plans for his future were not more than partially revealed to Alfred, who might, if he had but known, have reproached his elders with being “imperfect speakers,” when they talked of his absence from Letterbrack as if it were a limited period, and gave no hint, although he showed clearly that he was counting on a speedy return. Still, communicativeness on their part would not have made him by any means happier. As it was, his coming days wore an agreeable aspect of novelty that could not fail to interest; and if at the end of his forecasts his mind did always revert restfully to a nook on the sun-warmed strand, or the Captain’s own corner in the Drumatin House library, why, that point would probably go gliding on ahead of him, until it gradually receded into vagueness, and was no longer regarded as a goal. [...; cont.]

 
James William Barlow, History of Ireland during the Period of Parliamentary Independence (1873)

Now you must remember that the Irish Judges in those days held their offices at the pleasure of the Crown - fixity of judicial tenure not being then considered desirable at this side of the Channel, though it was found very useful in England - and, as a Judge usually dislikes descending from the Bench and resuming practice at the Bar, we need not be surprised that the next step in this complicated business was an injunction from the Court of Exchequer to the much harassed sheriff, ordering him to reinstate Annesley.
 Whether the sheriff was a truly patriotic man, or whether he considered the Irish Lords stronger than the English Lords and the Court of Exchequer put together, and therefore thought it safer to obey the former, we cannot tell. But, whatever may have been his motive, he treated the Exchequer injunction with contempt. The Court imposed a heavy fine on him, but the Lords gave him very effective support, for they sent all the Barons of the Exchequer to jail, and transmitted an elaborate state-paper to the King, in which they pointed out the rights of Ireland, and the independence of their own jurisdiction.

 
James William Barlow, History The Immortals’ Great Quest (1909)

Of the causes of the high civilization of Hesperos - Of the relations of the sexes - Of private personal property - Of property in Land; and of the methods of Eviction - Of the Jacks and Masters of all Trades.

When we bear in mind these essential differences of Hesperian life, the rapid development of civilization which took place in the northern hemisphere after the sudden introduction of the rational creation will not appear surprising. So far as I have been able to form an estimate, from the information that has been very freely afforded me, the newly created Hesperians were, both intellectually and morally, much on a par with the average of human beings. But the conditions under which they were placed rendered their advance in civilization incomparably more rapid than anything which a similar species, circumstanced as we are on the earth, could hope to attain.
 Their total exemption from the chronic paralysis of the human race which is involved in the incessant passage of the latter through the stages of infancy and childhood, would, by itself, be enough to give the Hesperians such a start in the race as to render competition useless. With us the intelligent man of matured wisdom departs, carrying with him to the grave the greater part of his accumulated stores of knowledge, and all his skill; leaving his successor, the child, to recover them as well as he can. The Hesperian is crossed by no such check; his course is one uninterrupted advance. Thus it came to pass that, after the lapse of a few thousand years, the condition of the northern hemisphere was, as regards every form of advanced civilization, a very long way ahead of anything even dreamed of, much less realized on earth. [...; cont.]

 
James William Barlow, Doctors at War: Studies of the French Medical Profession circa the 17th century (1914).
But it was to his position as member of the Faculty that the Parisian doctor was mainly indebted for his social importance. The duties and privileges of that great corporation were multifarious and weighty. In the wide field of medical jurisprudence they formed the only competent Court. All important measures of sanitary police passed necessarily through their hands. The water-supply of the city, the choice of cemeteries, the prevention of the adulteration of provisions, the regulation of quarantine, the decision whether this or that trade or manufacture should be prohibited as injurious to the public health - all in one way or another fell under the judicial cognizance of the doctors. It was no light matter to quarrel with such an institution as this. Louis XIV. himself once observed, no doubt with a rueful countenance, that it was only fair that a profession which caused so many tears should be made to afford a little laughter on the stage. [...; cont.]
[ Note that full text versions of many of Barlow's works are available in Internet Archive - as supra.

[ top ]

References
Anthologies: Daniel Karlin, ed., The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse (London: Penguin 1997), incls. Jane Barlow - with 8 other Irish poets: William Allingham, Edward Dowden, William Larminie, James Clarence Mangan, George William Russell [AE], John Todhunter, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats ... amidst tens of English poets.

See Stephen Brown, S. J., Ireland in Fiction (1919) - remarks on her stories and novels, as attached; also his remarks on Flaws (1912) - as supra and Bio-dates - as infra.

Belfast Public Library holds 15 titles including Mrs Martin’s Company; The Mockers and Other Verses; Maureen’s Fairing; Irish Ways; Irish Idylls; Doings and Dealings; Kerrigan’s Quality; Mac’s Adventures; The Ghost Bereft; The Founding of Fortunes; A Creel of Irish Stories; From the East to the West.

See also the Wikipedia entry on Jane Barlow - online; accessed 09.02.2018.

Dictionary of Irish Biography (RIA 2009; rev. entry Oct. 2021)

[...] Despite her family’s unionist background, she considered herself a nationalist from childhood. Inspired by the Young Ireland and Fenian movements, she contributed romantic nationalist verse to the United Irishman of Arthur Griffith (qv), though this was published anonymously, to avoid embarrassing her father. Similarly influenced by the Gaelic revival, she attempted to learn Irish and in 1900 was elected as an honorary member of the St Columba branch of the Gaelic League. Her lengthy correspondence with Katherine Tynan and Sarah Purser (qv) (who painted her portrait in 1894) testifies to these influences, and she often signed herself Sinéad. However, she later became alienated by the radical turn of Irish nationalism, and responded critically to the 1916 rising in verse.
[...]
Her poetry was included in many contemporary anthologies of Irish writing, but interest in her work was not sustained, and her characterisations of the native Irish subsequently appeared stereotyped.; [Note: q.v. refers to entries in the DIB.]

Dictionary of Irish Biography (RIA 2009; rev. 2021) - available online; accessed 27.03.2022.

[ top ]

Notes
Hugh Lane Gallery (1): Barlow joined with S. H. Butcher, Augusta Gregory, Douglas Hyde, Somerville & Ross, Emily Lawless, George Russell, and W. B. Yeats in ‘An Appeal from Irish Authors’ (Freeman’s Journal, 13 Dec. 1904), protesting against the corporation judgement on Hugh Lane’s [Municipal] gallery.’ (See Adrian Frazier, ‘Paris, Dublin: Looking at George Moore Looking at Manet’, in New Hibernia Review, 1, 1, Spring 1997, pp.19-30.)

Hugh Lane Gallery (2): See Alan Denson, Letters from AE (London: Abelard-Schuman 1961), p.54, giving details of the same letter in the papers of George Russell (Dec. 1904), printed in The Irish Times (5 Jan. 1905), appealing for donations to the value of £30,000 or £40,000 to purchase a collection of paintings ‘chosen by experts from the Staats-Froves and Durand-ruel Collections, and admitted to be the finest representation of modern French art outside Paris’, currently showing at the Royal Hibernian Academy; signed by Barlow, with Gregory, Butcher, Hyde, Somerville, Martin Ross, Lawless, Yeats and Russell (“AE”).

Bio-dates: Anne van Weerden (Utrecht Univ., NL) notes that the Church of Ireland attests to Jane Barlow’s birth-date in 1856 (formerly 1857 on this website) and has emended the Wikipedia entry to that effect.

Felix Ryark [pseud.]: Anne van Weerden remarks that A History of the World of Immortals Without God (1891), a sci-fi novel set on the planet Venus ascribed to Felix Ryard [pseud.] on the t.p. was written by her father - in spite of frequent erroneous attributions to her and suggests that A Strange Land (1908) was by him also. (Email correspondence, Dec. 2017-Feb. 2018.) She also mentions that Jack Fennell derives “Felix Ryark” from the Irish radhairc “a view” prefixed by felix, Latin for “happy”. [See bibliographical details - supra.]

Additional notes:

1] Anne van Weerden writes to RICORSO that Mac is a character in “The Field of the Frightful Beasts”, a story in From the East to the West (1898) and that The Battle of the Frogs and Mice was translated [viz., ‘rendered into English’] by Jane Barlow. (The online links above have also been supplied by Anne van Weerden.)

2] Van Weerden also cites a letter of Jane Barlow to Alfred Russel Wallace, now held in the British Natural History) Museum, which definitely confirms that A History of Immortals Without God is by Barlow Snr and not by Jane Barlow. See infra.

3] Van Weerden also writes that Antares is the main star in the Scorpius constellation [astonomers' Antares Scorpii; astrologers Scorpius] and that James William Barlow's horoscope was Scorpio while Jane”s was Libra.


[ top ]

Kith & Kin [James Barlow & Catherine Barlow - née Disney]
The ensuing information has been donated to Ricorso by Anne van Weerden [Utrecht U.] in the course of correspondence, 2018-2021

Jane’s father James William Barlow was the eldest son of William Barlow and Catherine Disney who was forced to marry Barlow by her parents, she being in love with William Rowan Hamilton [q.v.]. Her sister Jane had already married Barlow’s older brother John. Catherine attempted suicide in Carlingford in 1848, and died in 1853 (possibly in consequence). Her son James - Jane’s father - was rebuked by Archbishop Whately, Primate of the Church of Ireland, for rejecting the doctrine of Hell [i.e., eternal punishment] and lost his pulpit0In 1850 he became Junior Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin [Dublin University] and in 1860 he took the Erasmus Chair of History. He became a Senior Fellow around 1892 and was elected Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin [TCD], in 1899. Anne van Weerden has shown that his attitude on the question of divine punishment was probably coloured by his mother’s suicide attempt. Katharine Tynan speaks of the ‘ecclesiastical ban’ as ‘a shadow over the house’ in a chapter about Jane Barlow in her Memories. Jane Barlow’s mother Mary was a daughter of John Barlow and Jane Disney and Jane was therefore descended from Catherine Disney on two sides of her family. [Information supplied by Anne van Weerden -17.10.2018; last edited 20.11.2021.]

See Anne van Weerden, A Catherine Disney: A Biographical Sketch (Stedum: J. Fransje van Weerden 2019) - with revised version online.
 
Genealogical listing supplied by Anne van Weerden
  • James Barlow (1748-1825) & Elizabeth Ann Ruxton (1761-1829) - m. 1787:
    • 8 children incl. John Barlow (1791-1876); William Barlow (1792-1871).
    Thomas Disney (1766-1851) & Anne Eliza Purdon (ca 1765-1858) - m. 1791:
    • 14 children incl. Jane Disney (1792/93-1865); Catherine Disney (1800-1853)
  • William Barlow (1792-1871) & Catherine Disney (1800-1853) - m. 1825:
    • 7 children incl. James William Barlow (1826-1913).
  • John Barlow (1791-1876) & Jane Disney (1792/93-1865) - m. 1813:
    • 12 children incl. Mary Louisa Barlow (1832-1894).
  • James William Barlow (1826-1913) & Mary Louisa Barlow (1832-1894), m. 1853:
    • 7 children incl. Jane Barlow (1856-1917) [one, a girl, lost at the age of 20].

[ top ]

Research notice: Jane Barlow died in October 1917; her siblings William Ruxton Barlow in 1922, Maurice Barlow in 1923, and Katharine Barlow in 1929. No date has been found for John’s Barlow’s death but in March 1930 he was mentioned as copyright holder of some of his sister’s books and he may have died soon thereafter. Jane Barlow had become an associated of the English Society for Psychical Research in 1895. Her father had become a member in 1901, and in 1908 he had helped to establish the Dublin Section. In January 1918, only some months after Jane’s death, Katharine also became a member of English Society, the Dublin section having ceased to exist before 1915. [...]. (See Researchgate - online; link supplied by Anne van Weerden.)

[ top ]

The Bookman: A Literary Journal (Dec. 1895), pp.260-62.
The Bookman (1895-96) - 1
The Bookman (1895-96) - 2

[cont.] things she shows a wholesome judgement; notwithstanding these opinions of hers are formed, like all her work, with an extreme shyness and modesty, but without a trace of self-consciouness, and in a quietness almost solitary. She writes ’pessimist’ after her name, but ’optimist’ were the true title, seeing that her work, however melancholy it may be, does not depress, but uplifts and stirs the blood. (End; p.262.)

—Available at HathiTrust - online; accessed 22.10.2018.

[ top ]

A Strange Land (2908): The novel, whose authorship is disputed between Jane Barlow and her father Rev. James Barlow, was received in an Australian newspaper in The Advertiser [Adelaide] Sat., 6 June 1908):
DELIGHTFUL COUNTRY. THE MUSIC OF THE MISTS. A Strange Land. By Felix Ryark. London: Hutchin & Co. (Colonial Library).
In poetic charm and imagery this volume abounds. It is a dream story of an en- chanted land beyond the mists, into which Denis Maine, a gifted violinist, sails. From its shores music has been banished as a thing of evil. His sojourn with the strange and highly-enlightened people of the country, who know nothing of the world beyond their own happy regions, forms the principal portion of the story. A lovely young girl, Elmede, exercises a strong fascination over him, but her affection is set on Destran, who makes a journey to see the outer world of which Maine some- times spoke. A strange delusion was entertained concerning the world beyond the barrier, and when Denis took Elmede to a picturesque sequesterated spot, where the waters of the river mingled with those of the sea, and where the loveliest conceivable landscape stretched in indescribable beauty, and played his violin, despite the ban under which music rested, the girl wrapped in a trance looked over the waters for the return of her lover, until at length the musician glided into the melody of a “Dream in sleep.” Then the girl became responsive to the soothing strains.
‘She turned away from the water’s edge and came slowly towards him and sat down beneath the shade of the tree where he stood playing. She was, he could see, listening with delight. And thereupon over his spirit fell a restful calm that set him free once more to lose himself in the joy of parleying with the soul of music. It would have been long before either the musician or the audience wearied; and when at last Denis dropped his bow with a start, saying “I wonder what length of time you have let me keep you here,” Elmede sighed like one roused from a heaven-lit trance, and answered dreamily, “You have been giving me a sight of the enchanted regions more beautiful than anything I ever imagined. It seems to me as if it must be on the very verge of theme here.” She stood up and looked again far over the sea —“And what I am wondering, Denis Maine, is how you could endure to leave them.” “Ah, Elmede,” said Denis, ”I am afraid we are still far enough from what you have the picture of in your mind.” But his warning appeared to be lost on her.’
Before Denis left the fair maiden, to whom he had not the courage to tell the real facts of his life beyond the mists and the barrier, Destram returned looking old and haggard, with an expression of horror on his countenance. The great charm of the book is the beautiful liquid diction. [End.]
Available at Trove (National Library of Australia) - online; accessed 24.03.2019; noticed by Anne van Weerden; see bibliographical remarks, supra.

[ top ]

COPAC listings for A History of a World of Immortals Without God (1891; rep. 1908) by Rev. James William Barlow
COPAC James Barlow, History .. &c.
[Note: the blue links are copied - not active; for active pages, go to COPAC - online; accessed 25.06.2019.]
James William Barlow - Full list (COPAC):
James William Barlow - COPAC (full)
[Note: the above pages are images; for active pages, go to COPAC - online; accessed 25.06.2019.]

Alfred Russel Wallace - Jane Barlow’s correspondence with Wallace is available in transcriptions at the Natural History Museum website (UK). A search of the collection made by Anne van Weerden returned the following list of seven letters: 11 Feb. 1895*, 29 Dec. 1901*, 14 July 1904, 15 Sept. 1912, 23 Oct. 1913*, 13 Feb. 1913*, 12 March 1913 [addressed to Annie Wallace [née Midden]. Those marked * are available as transcriptions online. On 23 Oct. 1913 she wrote: ‘My beloved Father passed away in July, and I am so lonely without him that were it not for the hope of reunion beyond this world, I should quite despair.’ (See transcript.)

Note: Wallace has been identified as the the founder of the Society of Psychical Research but was primarily known as the discoverer of Evolutionary theory independently of and similtaneously with Darwin - i.e., evolution through natural selection. In the Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009; rev. entry 2021) he is erroneously identified as the founder of the Irish branch of the Psychical Research Society.

 

Letter from Jane Barlow to Alfred Russel Wallace of 29 Dec. 1901
``
 
Source: Wallace Letters at the Natural History Museum - transcript [search conducted by Anne van Weerden; notified to Ricorso 15.11.2021].

The Immortals’ Great Quest (1909) - An immortal race of inhabitants on “Hesperos” (Venus) live cyclical lives: they grow old, grow young, then grow old again - with no reproduction, and no disease or death from natural causes. The planet’s hundred million inhabitants arrived all at once on the planet from somewhere else; if an individual’s suffering reaches a certain level he simply vanishes and reappears at the planet’s temperate South Pole; the northern and southern hemispheres of the planet are separated by a permanent wide belt of hurricane at the equator, impassable except by submarine. World Cat. Synopsis - online; accessed 19.11.2021.)

Namesake: West Coast Rare Books [James Street, Westport, Co. Mayo] lists Stephen Barlow,  The History of Ireland. From the Earliest Period to the Present Time; embracing also A Statistical and Geographical Account of that Kingdom; forming together a Complete View of its Past and Present State, under its Political, Civil, Literary, and Commercial Relations. First Edition. Two Volumes. London, Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1814. 20.5 x 12.5 cm. Vol.1: xvi, 476 pages. / Vol.2: xii, 524 pages. Complete with all Illustrations incl. a folding map of Ireland and a folding view of Dublin. One plate bound in wrong position (Vol.1 vs. Vol.2) New (2019) green cloth with gilt title on spine. New end papers. Original marbled edges. Very good condition. 2019 Bindings by Kenny’s Bindery, Galway. Internally slightly age darkened / browned. Edges dust dulled. Minor wear to some pages, not affecting text. A very nice set; rebound in 2019. (See West Coast Rare Books Cat. - onlline & this title; [Vol. 2 also available with page-views in Google Books - online; accessed 19.11.2021.]

[ top ]