Kathleen Coyle


Life
1886-1952 [Mrs. Charles Maher;] raised in Derry and Inishowen, Co. Donegal; suffered crippling accident to foot involving a pramwheel in childhood, permitted to go unattended through anxiety of her nanny to hide it; father became alcoholic with declining fortunes; lived in Paris and New York;
 
novels include A Flock of Birds (1930), which narrates events of the civil war as told by the son of a boy under sentence of death in Belfast; competed with Forster’s Passage to India for major prize; Family Skeleton (1934); Undue Fulfilment (1934); Morning Comes Early [q.d.]; To Hold Against Famine [q.d.]; also an memoir (1948); a plaque was placed in her honour in Derry, Oct. 1995; a dg., Michelle Ripley. IF2 KUN OCIL FDA

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Works
  • Flock of Birds (London: Jonathan Cape 1930), 255pp. and Do., rep. (Dublin: Wolfhound; Chester Springs: Dufour 1995), 192pp.;
  • The French Husband (London: Pharos Book [q.d.]), 251pp.;
  • Immortal Ease (London: Gollancz 1941), 447pp.;
  • It Is Better to Tell (London: Jonathan Cape 1928);
  • Morning Comes Early (NY: E. P. Dutton 1934), 522pp.;
  • The Skeleton [2nd imp.] (Dutton 1933), 253pp., and Do. as Family Skeleton (London: Ivor Nicholson & Watson 1934), 293pp.;
  • Undue Fulfillment (NY: William Morrow 1934), 291pp.;
  • The Widow’s House &c. (London: Jonathan Cape 1924), 253pp.;
  • Youth in the Saddle (London: Jonathan Cape 1927), 285pp.;
  • The Magic Realm [1943]: An Irish Childhood (Dublin: Wolfhound 1997), 272pp.

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Criticism
John Cronin, ‘Kathleen Coyle, A Flock of Birds’, in The Anglo-Irish Novel, Vol II (Belfast: Appletree Press 1990), pp.129; see also Robert Greacen, [“Explorer of the Feminine Psyche”,] in Rooted in Ulster: Nine Northern Writers (Belfast: Lagan Press 2001), 130pp.

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Commentary
Carey Harrison, ‘A Classic from the Past’, in ‘Fiction of the Week’ [column], Irish Times (30 Sept. 1995), p.9, compares Flock of Birds to Ford Maddox Ford, The Good Soldier; concerns Christy Munster, in N. Ireland, 1918, accused of murder that he almost certainly didn’t commit; rifts appear in his family, which does not share his revolutionary politics, days before his hanging; told through eyes of his mother, Catherine, who through force of love enables her son to die well.

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References
Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists Youth in the Saddle (London: Jonathan Cape 1927), A Flock of Birds (London: Jonathan Cape 1930; Wolfhound 1995), both realistic - and unconventional - psychological investigations of family life at the time of the troubles, 1919-22; power of evoking emotion.

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