Christine Dwyer Hickey


Life
[var. Dwyer-Hickey]; ed. National School; Hickey is dg. of independent building contractor; gd-dg. of professional dancer (gf.); her parents were alcoholic; ed. as a border at at Mount Sackville, Chapelizod; proceeded to Secretarial College after Intermediate Cert.; worked at Phoenix Park race course; completed Leaving Cert. at Sandymoutn High School; m. with three children; worked as private detective for legal agency with her husband; commenced writing when recovering from a broken collar-bone; won First Prize at Listowel Writers’s week with story of girl at races with her father;
 
won Listowel competition a second time, and afterwards the Observer Story Competition; recruited for Marino by Jo O’Donoghue; issued The Dancer (1994), and The Gambler (1996), and The Gatemaker (2000), a trilogy set in Dublin and London in 1918 onwards, and dealing with the family of a dancer, his sons George, Herbert and Charlie, and and his daughers Kate and Maude; employs stream of consciousness and covers the experience of a hare-lip child and hidden emotions involved in it; the author has also issued short stories; issued Tatty (2004), the story of a child brought up by two alcoholic parents - short-listed for the Orange Prize in Women's Fiction; also Last Train from Liguria (2009), the story of an Bella Stuart Irish governess to a Jewish family in 1930s Fascist Italy, and later in Dublin; issued The House on Parkgate Street (2014), stories.

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Works
The Dancer (Dublin: Marino Books 1995), 367pp.; The Gambler (Dublin: Marino Books 1996), 384pp.; The Gatemaker (Dublin: Marino Books 2000), 398pp.; Tatty (Dublin: Marino Books 2004), 205pp.; The Gambler (Dublin: New Island 2006), 348pp.; Last Train from Liguria (Atlantic 2009), 392pp.; [...]; The House on Parkgate Street and Other Stories (Dublin: New Island Press 2014), 200pp.

Trilogy: The Dancer (Dublin: New Island 2005), 351pp.; The Gambler (Dublin: New Island 2006), and The Gatemaker (Dublin: New Island 2006).

Miscellaneous, ‘Christine Dwyer-Hickey reflects on some authors and books that have been important to her, particularly Janice Galloway’s Clara’, in “My Back Pages” [column of] The Irish Book Review (Summer 2006), p.50 [reports that the music - ‘the sound of the novel’ - about Clara Schumann changed the way she writes,]

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Criticism

  • Celia de Fréine, review notice of The Dancer, in Books Ireland (Oct. 1995), pp.244-45;
  • [q.a.,] Irish Times (4 Nov. 2000) review of The Dancer [speaking of the father’s ‘hazy, violent love’ for his sons and their respective fates.
  • Caitríona MacKernan, review of Last Train from Liguria, in Books Ireland (Sept. 2009), pp.176-77 [incls. detailed retelling].
 
See also ‘An interview with Christine Dwyer Hickey’, in BiblioFemme: An Irish Book Club (Nov. 2006) [copy or link].

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Commentary
Books Ireland
(March 2004), interview: gives account on Tatty (2004), set in Dublin 1960s and 70s, a child’s-eye view of family disintegration under the strain of alcoholism, narrated by title character; author speaks of herself as ‘the adult child of alcoholic parents’ though she is ‘not saying the book is completely autobiographical, or that everything that happens to Tatty happened to [her]’. Speaks of herself as a ‘loner [...]’ and ‘a persistent dunce’ at national school, like the character. (p.41.)

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Antony Glavin, ‘A fistful of fine family stories’, review of The House on Parkgate Street [... &c.], in The Irish Times (1 Feb. 2014), Weekend Review, p.11: ‘[...] Not surprisingly, either, are the persuasively observed family dynamics that underpin stories indelibly marked by love, loss and in two at least, a poignant quotient of guilt. Family stories that come replete with parents, sisters and brothers both younger an dolder, or a brace of cruel cousins. Plus a bevy of aunts, such as the eponymous Esther of “Esther’s House”, whose family secret has all but inhinged her, or widowed Aunt Judy of the title story, whose incapacitated mother-in-law terrifies her neice Grainne, “her mouth sucking on another cold chip and one furious staring eye staring out.” / Such precise, graphic porse is typical of Dwyer's rich characterisation, enabling us to picture the murning brother in the masterly “Absence” by the way he takes out his black tie, “holding it up like a dead eel between his fingers.” Or envisage one of two elderly sisters in “Teatro la Fenice”, via ‘her bare bottom, like two pork chops hanging down”. [...] The stories lay a claim of sorts to that swathe of Dublin roughly bounded west from Capel Street to Chapelizod village north of the Liffey [...]’

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