Mary Beckett

Life
1926- ; b. Belfast; ed. St Columban’s National School; St Dominic’s High School, and St Mary’s Training College; primary teacher in Holy Cross, Ardoyne (Belfast) until 1956 when m. Peter Gaffey and moved to Dublin; stopped writing to raise five children; collection short stories A Belfast Woman (1980); won BBC prize with “The Excursion”, published in The Bell and David Marcus’s New Irish Writing; won Arts Award for Literature with novel Give Them Stones (1987); a story collection A Literary Woman (1990); also some children’s fiction. DIW ATT DIL

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Criticism
Megan Sullivan, ‘Mary Beckett: An Interview’, Irish Literary Supplement Vol. 14 (Fall 1995), pp.10-12; Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction (London: Pluto Press 1997) [on Give Them Stones], pp.135-38; Kelly Matthews, "A Belfast Woman: Shame, Guilt, and Gender in Mary Beckett's Short Stories of the 1950s", in New Hibernia Review, 18, 2 (Summer 2014), pp.97-109.

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Commentary
Kate Fearon
, Women’s Work: The Story of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (Belfast: Blackstaff 2000), 192pp. includes remarks on Mary Beckett’s “Give Them Stones”, concerning the maturition of one woman from a nationalist background who comes to realise that women focus on the material conditions of their families because of they are excluded from gender-based politics. (See Books Ireland, Oct. 2000, p.281.)

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References
Dermot Bolger, ed., Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction (London: Picador 1993; 1994) selects “Heaven” [story] and lists story collections, A Belfast Woman; A Literary Woman; and Give Them Stones.

Other anthologies: Ailbhe Smyth, ed., Wildish Things (Dublin: Attic 1989); Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Irelandís Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994); Edmund Lenihan, ed., Ferocious Irish Women (Cork: Mercier 1991), extract from A Belfast Woman.

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