George Borrow

Life
1803-1881 [George Henry Borrow], spent part of his childhood in Carrickfergus; he is a frequent character in Irish fiction. OCEL SUTH OCIL

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Criticism
F. J. McLynn, ‘George Borrow, Catholics and Celts in George Borrow’s Lavengro-Romany Rye’, in Éire-Ireland (Spring 1984), pp.115-23; see also Irish Book Lover, Vol. 8.

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Commentary
W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), George Borrow, in Lavengro, Chp. x, xii, xiv, recalls attending school in Clonmel in 1815, and other memories of Irish classical culture. [28-29].

Frank O’Connor writes of the Irish chapters of Lavengro: ‘for all their intolerable coventanting cant ... still the best introduction to Tipperary itself and to that terrible Ireland of the early nineteenth century with its mad Whig Ascendancy and its brutalised peasantry ...’ (Munster, Leinster, and Connaught; quoted in cited in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, Murray 1994, p.161.)

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References
Frank O’Connor, ed., Book. of Ireland (Dent 1967) gives a description of a loyalist in Clonmel from Lavengro; also a description of a ruined castles as ‘monuments of the troubled and insecure state of the country, from the most remote periods to a comparatively modern time’ (ibid).

Margaret Drabble, ed., Oxford Companion of English Literature (OUP: 1985); biography by W. I. Knapp (1899); also D. Williams, A World of His Own (1982); NOTE that OCEL makes no mention of Irish connections.

University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds The Bible in Spain (1906); Lavengro (1906); Wild Wales (1906).

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Notes
W. B. Yeats: ‘To oppose the new ill-breeding in Ireland, which may in a few years destroy all that has given ireland a distinguished name in the world - “Mother of the bravest soldiers and the most beautiful women”, cried Borrow, or some such words, remembering the hospitality shown to him, a distributor of Bibles, by the Irish Monks of Spain - I can only set up a secondary or interior personality created out of the tradition of myself [....].’ (W. B. Yeats, Autobiographies, 1955, p.463.)

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