Norah Hoult (1898-1984)

Criticism


Life
[var. 1901]; b. Dublin, of Protestant Irish parents who died while she was still a child; ed. England; returned Ireland, 1931-27, and experienced shock at narrow-mindedness of her mother’s family; worked in newspapers incl. Sheffield Daily, Telegraph, Pearson’s Magazine, and Evening Post; issued Poor Women (1928), short stories, incl. “Violet Ryder”, later published as a novelette; issued Time, Gentlemen, Time! (1930), a study of alcoholism and marriage; spent two years in America to 1939; corresponded with Oliver St. John Gogarty;
 
issued Holy Ireland (1935) and Coming from the Fair (1937), both dealing with Ireland in a critical vein; also Sister Mavis (1963), dealing with with an Irish girl who leaves Dublin to work in care home in poor district of London; Frozen Ground (1954) is autobiographical; other novels incl. House under Mars (1946), Girls in the Big Smoke (1977), and Only Fools and Horses Work (q.d.), a cheerful study of widowhood; contrib. to Irish Writing, ed., David Marcus, during 1952; she was living in Greystones in 1979. NCBE DIW DIL IF/2 KUN OCIL

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Works
Novels
  • Time, Gentlemen, Time! (London: Heinemann 1930)
  • Apartment to Let (London: Heinemann 1931);
  • Ethel (Pepper-London: Heinemann 1933);
  • Holy Ireland (London: Heinemann 1935) [see extract];
  • Coming from the Fair (London: Heinemann 1937);
  • Four Women Grow Up (London: Heinemann 1940);
  • Smilin’ on the Vine (London: Heinemann 1941);
  • Augusta Steps Out (London: Heinemann 1942);
  • Scene for Death (London: Heinemann 1943);
  • There Were No Windows (London: Heinemann 1944);
  • House Under Mars (London: Heinemann 1946);
  • Farewell Happy Fields (London: Heinemann 1948);
  • Frozen Ground (London: Heinemann 1952);
  • Sister Mavis (London: Heinemann 1953);
  • A Death Occurred (London: Hutchinson 1954);
  • Journey Into Print (London: Hutchinson 1954);
  • Father Hone and the Television Set (1956);
  • Father and Daughter (London: Hutchinson 1957);
  • Husband and Wife (London: Hutchinson 1959);
  • The Last Days of Miss Jenkinson (London: Hutchinson 1962);
  • A Poet’s Pilgrimage (London: Hutchinson 1966);
  • Not for our Sins Alone (London: Hutchinson 1972).
  • Only Fools and Horses Work (q.d.)
Short stories
  • Poor Women! (London: Scholartis; Heinemann 1928);
  • Nine Years is A Long Time (London: Heinemann 1938);
  • Selected Stories (London & Dublin: Maurice Fridberg 1946);
  • Cocktail Bar (London: Heinemann 1950), 214pp.
Miscellaneous
  • contrib. ‘She said to him’ [sect.] to Consequences, a complete story in the manner of the old parlour game in nine chapters (Waltham Saint Lawrence: The Golden Cockerel Press 1932), [3] 66pp., ill, with John van Druten; G. B. Stern; A. E. Coppard; Sean O’Faolain; Hamish Maclaren; Elizabeth Bowen; Ronald Fraser; and Malachi Whitaker. [See under Sean O’Faolain, q.v.].
Anthologies
  • Evelyn Conlon & Hans-Christian Oeser, eds., Cutting the Night in Two: Short Stories by Irish Women Writers (Dublin: New Island 2001), incls. story by Nora Hoult.

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Criticism
See Heather Ingman, A History of the Irish Short Story (Cambridge UP 2009) [Chap. 5: ‘1920-39: Years of Transition’, incls. a reading of her fiction].

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Commentary
Ulick O’Connor, ‘Joyce and Gogarty’ (1990): ‘when Norah Hoult, wishing to place Gogarty as a character in one of her novels, gave him smoke-blue eyes, because, she said, Joyce was always right about such things, Gogarty replied indignantly that this was not so.’ (Augustine Martin, ed., James Joyce: The Artist and the Labyrinth, London: Ryan Publ. 1990, p.347; also cited in Robert Deming, ed., James Joyce: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970, [Vol. 1] p.282 and presum. sourced in OíConnor’s early biography of Gogarty, The Times I’ve Seen: Oliver St John Gogarty, 1963.)

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Quotations
Holy Ireland (1935): “I was talking about the iniquitous war,” said Lalor. “Tell me, Miss OíNeill, you are pro-Boer, are you?” / “I donít know. I suppose I am. All the same, I admire the English.” / “Quite right,” said Langdale. “I admire the English for the way they have of enjoying themselves.” / “Thatís not the point,” said Lalor. “In this war thereís a right side and a wrong and the English are dead wrong.” / “Thereís two sides to everything,” said Langdale. “Indeed I often thing that thereís at least three.” / “Thatís what the Jesuits taught you at Clongowes, Tommy. God help you. God help the poor young man, for heíll be moidered the rest of his mortal life. Now the Christian Brothers taught Charlie here and myself that thereís right and wrong. Or wrong and right, whichever way you like to put it. Isnít that so, Charlie?”í

Caviare to the General’, review of Beckett’s More Pricks than Kicks, in the Dublin Magazine, 9.3 (July-Sept 1934): ‘a holiday for highbrows’; further describes Belacqua as a hybrid of Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, and the author as ‘a clever young man’ who ‘knows his Ulysses as a Scotch Presbyterian knows his Bible.’ (pp.84-87; quoted in John Harrington, The Irish Beckett, p.65.)

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References
Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. II] (Dublin: Royal Carbery 1985), bio-notes: b. Dublin 1901, ed. England; both parents [Anglo-Irish] died; lived ed. boarding school, worked in London; staff of several newspapers incl. Sheffield Daily, Telegraph, Pearson’s Magazine, and Evening Post; prolific fiction author; Irish books include Poor Women (1930) [five stories, an ageing prostitute, a bullied servant girl, a spinster living off charity, &c.; see Baker]; Holy Ireland [err. Landale for Langdale]; Coming from the Fair [follows on from death of Patrick, his fortune squandered by Charlie, 1903-16]; Selected Stories [stories reprinted from Poor Women under variant titles]; Farewell Happy Fields [Adam Palmer defies God in revenge for his detention in provincial Irish mental asylum]; Cocktail Bar [12 stories on defeat and incompatibility, opening with wedding of Irish London couple]; A Death Occurred [in London luxury flats]; Frozen Ground [autobiographical, Irish orphaned girl to teens, relatives in Yorkshire, boarding school, ineligible young man’s real love falls on barren ground]; Father Hone and the Television Set [priest buys communal telly, and events leading to its disposal]; Father and Daughter [11 years of Shakespearean actors’ life, husband, wife hankering for musical hall, contrasting daughters, small town Ireland]; Husband and Wife [Monty Mallory again]; Sister Mavis (1963) [Irish girl leaves Dublin to work in care home in poor district of London]; Frozen Ground (1954) is autobiographical.

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Stanley Kunitz, ed., Twentieth Century Authors (1967 ed.), describes herself as an ‘anti-feminist’ in the belief that feminism has done much damage; refers two novels to an Irish setting.

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), bio-notes: b. of Anglo-Irish parents in Dublin who died early [err.]; ed. England, returned 1931-1937; 1939, USA; lives in Greystones; Poor Women! (London: Scholartis 1928, and reps.), stories, including ‘Bridget Kiernan’, a young domestic in pre-war Britain, also a story ‘Violet Ryder’, printed separately as a novelette (Heinemann 1930 [limited edn.]).

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Belfast Public Library holds Holy Ireland (1935); also Violet Rider [sic] (1930). There is a 1984 rep. of Holy Ireland, with a preface by Hoult and an introduction by Janet Madden-Simpson. In the preface, Hoult speaks of her shock at the bigotry of her mother’s family on visiting from school in England shortly after her parents’ deaths.

University of Ulster Library holds Holy Ireland (London: Heinemann; NY: Reynal and Hitchcock 1936), [6,] 369, [1]pp.; House under Mars (London: Heinemann 1946); Only Fools and Horses Work (London: Hutchinson 1969), 224pp; A Poet’s Pilgrimage (London: Hutchinson 1966); Violet Ryder (London: Elkin Matthews & Marrot 1930, lim. edn. 800); Youth Must be Served (London: Heinemann 1933).

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