Mary Dorcey

Life
1950; b. and ed. Dublin; first Irish student in Open University (UK); joined Irish Women’s Movement, 1972; travelled in France, England, America, and Japan; writes exclusively lesbian literature; Kindling (1982), poems; Moving into the Space Cleared by Our Mothers (1991), poetry; The River That Carried Me (1995), poetry; A Noise from the Woodshed (1989), nine short stories in which the title-story is based encounter of two women (‘you’ and ‘she’), inner of Rooney Prize; The Tower of Babel (1996), and Biography of Desire (1997), first novel; founder of Irishwomen United; called ‘a rare voice from a deeply hidden pool’ (Ailbhe Smyth); poems Like Joy in Season, Like Sorrow (2001). ATT

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Works
Poetry
, Kindling (London: Onlywomen Press 1982); Moving into the Space Cleared by Our Mothers (Galway: Salmon Publishing 1991); The River That Carried Me (Dublin: Poolbeg/Salmon; Chester Springs: Dufour 1995); Like Joy in Season, Like Sorrow (Galway: Salmon Poetry 2001), 96pp.

Fiction, A Noise from the Woodshed (London: Onlywomen Press 1989), short stories; Scarlett O’Hara (1988), novella; Biography of Desire (Poolbeg 1997), 383pp., first novel.

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Criticism
Anne Fogarty, ‘The Ear of the Other: Dissident Voices in Kate O’Brien’s As Music and Splendour and Mary Dorcey’s A Noise from the Woodshed’, in Éibhear Walshe, ed., Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing (Cork UP 1997), pp.170-201.

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Commentary
Clodagh Corcoran, review of Biography of Desire, in Irish Times (20 Sept. 1997), characterising it as ‘arguably Ireland’s first truly erotic novel’, concerned with lesbian love and women’s choice whether to live inside society or opt out; Katherine, arried to talented Malachy, and mother of two boys, sees and calls in love with Nina, a preadtorary lesbian who has a longterm relationship with Elinor, with whom she shares a child [sic], Lizzie; realising that she is in a lesbian love-affair, Malachy expects Katherine to come back to him emotionally, but instead she leaves and travels to a cottage in the West of Ireland to await Nina, narrating her story while waiting; comes to realise the cost of her obsession when Nina doesn’t arrive, but comes to appreciate the freedom of having abandoned compromise also; ‘exquisitely tuned to the lives of women.’

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References
Anthologised in Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994).

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