Rosamond Jacob (1888-1960)

Life
[occas. pseud. “F. Winthorp”;] novelist, b. Waterford, dg. of Quakers; ed. Newtown; became a suffragette; moved to Dublin in 1919; shared rooms with Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Dorothy McArdle; joined Sinn Féin and later Fianna Fail; served as sec. to Gaelic League branch; member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom [see Louie Bennett, q.v.]; campaigned as a anti-Vivisectionist; Frank Ryan [q.v.], the IRA Chief of Staff; was her lover from 1928; travelled to USSR in the 1930s;
 
issued Callaghan  (1920), the story of a young suffragette who converts a handsome republican to feminism; also issued The Rebel’s Wife (1957), on the wife of Henry Joy McCracken, and The Raven’s Glen (1960). both novels, and a study of the United Irishmen (1927); expressed disappointment about her peripheral rôle in Irish radicalism; she was advised by Peadar O'Donnell not to publish her autobiography Third Person Singular; her papers are held in the National Library of Ireland; there is a life by Leeann Lane. IF2 ATT DUB

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Works
  • The Rise of the United Irishmen 1791-94 (George Harrap 1927), 266pp. [extracts];
  • The Rebel’s Wife (Tralee: The Kerryman 1957). [details]

Bibliographical details
The Rebel’s Wife (Tralee: The Kerryman 1957) [on the wife of Henry Joy McCracken], by the author of The Rise of the United Irishmen and The Troubled House, 215pp. CONTENTS: 32 Chaps., incl. ‘The Reckless Marriage’ (Chap. 1), and ‘Reward at Last’ (Chap. 32); also ‘Interruption’, and ‘Epilogue’, Includes the McCrackens and other figures of 1798 incl. Dr. Drennan (viz., ‘sing us Dr. Drennan’s masterpiece, do!’, p.79) and Napoleon. See dust-jacket note: ‘scarcely any of the incidents in this tale are imaginary’;

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Criticism
Leeann Lane, Rosamond Jacob: Third Person Singular (UCD Press 2010), 324pp.

See also Geraldine Meaney [UCD], ‘Regendering Modernism: The Woman Artist in Irish Women’s Fiction’, in Women: a Cultural Review 15, 1 (March 2004), pp. 67-82 [considered with Kate O’Brien]; Niamh Purseil, ‘A bit player in the who’s who of Irish radicalism’, review of Rosamund Jacob by Leeann Lane, in The Irish Times (8 Jan. 2011), Weekend Review, p.10 [extract]

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Commentary
Niamh Purseil, ‘A bit player in the who’s who of Irish radicalism’, in The Irish Times (8 Jan. 2011), Weekend Review, p.10: ‘[...] Her activism involved little more than attending meetings and doing the graveyard shift on church collections. Her aspirations as a writer came to little. Sales of her first novel, Callaghan  (1920), the story of a young suffragette who converts a handsome republican to feminism before they begin a relationship, were poor. Other books were rejected or published only with her subsidy. Her personal life was also a disappointment. She was a prickly individual, and the young woman who stares out from the book’s cover is intense and unsmiling. Peadar O’Donnell once told her he “felt a cold draft all around” her, which, combined with her plain appearance, did not help her win the attentions of male republicans which she craved and who feature prominently here. Admiring Cathal Brugha, she pronounced “I do like a man who cannot surrender.” / But it was to Frank Ryan that her heart belonged. Their “affair” began in 1928.’ [...; seek full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.]

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Quotations
The Rise of the United Irishmen 1791-94
(London: George Harrap 1927), 266pp., drawing on papers in HMSO. CONTENTS, Intro.; The Founding of the United Irishmen; The Fight for Religious Freedom; The Methods of Government; ‘The Northern Star’; International Brotherhood; 1793-94: Plots and Trials; Fitzwilliam’s Rise and Fall; Epilogue; index. Jacob presents ‘an interesting side-light on the situation in general and Tone’s mind in particular in quoting from a Dr. MacDonnell, a leading Presbyterian and democrat, whom RR Madden applied to for his recollections. On Tone, MacDonnell remarked, ‘I observed one trait of his character which I did not approve of, and which, perhaps, I could not properly undersand; although the accredited secretary or agent of the Roman Catholic Committee, and going to London, in that capacity, with the delegates Keogh and McCormick (I think), I found him quite averse, and afraid of the Roman Catholic leaders having any intercourse with Pitt and his friends, and he was only so far set upon emancipation as it fell in with his ideas of reform upon the French principles, so that had the Government, as I wished, detached the Roman Catholics form the French principles of general and democratic reform, by giving them the most practical toleration, I saw that Tone would have impeded that concession, while he was paid as their clerk. // I never reconciled myself fully to this ..’. [Cont.]

The Rise of the United Irishmen 1791-94 (1927), cont. - Jacob comments: ‘People of that timid and cautious temperament which dreas change above all things, and those with conservative political opinions, really preferred to remain partially under the domination of an insolent alien caste. founded on the basis of property and rank, rather than risk the appearance in Ireland of anything like the French Revolution. The French Revolution was more dreadful to them than anything we can conceive – far more dreadful than even the Russian Revolution of 1917 was to their descendants, because it was so much closer at hand. if they had to choose between subjection for themselves and “levelling principles” for every one, they would choose subjection every time.’ She goes on to argue that Tone’s attitude was shared by Keogh, McCormick, and Warren, quoting Tone’s diary [Life, vol. i., p.204], “Gog, Magog, and Warren, three leading Catholics, had rather be refused this session, in order thoroughly to rouse the spirit of the people ... I rely very much on the folly and intemperance of the Government for a complete emancipation of this country.” (Jacob, 1927, p.127-28). [Cont.]

The Rise of the United Irishmen 1791-94 (1927) - cont.: Jacob’s sympathies shows in her account of the death of Laurence O’O’Connor, a schoolteacher and Defender who was condemned to hang for administering the oath, who refused to abjure, spoke from the dock in vindication of the Defenders, and entrusted his family to God [ftn., p.246]. Throughout the narrative, the baseline is provided by John Mitchel’s History of Ireland, first cited p.21 [for passage cited, see Mitchel, RX], while Michael Ó Ó Longain’s lines, ‘Gach tioranach cloain-cheardach coimhighteach/I n-ainm an riabhaigh, a’s gan Dia da gcuimhdeacht’, and a listing of a mob of tyrants by Eoghan Ruadh Ó Suilleaghain [for Súilleabháin] is also given [12-13]. [Cont.]

The Rise of the United Irishmen 1791-94 (1927) - cont.: ‘Two civilizations, two languages, two nations, two ways of life dwelt, conflicting together, in the country, one conquering and possessing, the other enslaved; and the broad line of demarcation between them was religion. It was possible to mark the Irish out and keep them down by proscribing a religion. The conquerors by a simple system of sectarian monopoly could arrogate everything to themselves, and deny the people of the land even the official right to live. Class differences among themselves gave them some trouble; it was less easy to find excuses for despoiling their own poor, but as for the main body of the Irish, left after the ruin of the native nobility in the seventeenth century and the military emigration at its close, the Penal Laws, forbidding all civil rights and almost all property to Catholics, sufficed to keep them underfoot for a hundred years’ [13]. James Connolly’s Labour in Ireland (1922 edn., p.21) is cited on the role of class interests as a delimiting factor on the application of Penal Laws to their ‘full legal limits’. [15]

History of United Irishmen (presum. Rise of United Irishmen, 1927 - as supra): ‘Before 1791 there were in the country only the British colonists and the enslaved Irish; after that year parties took a new dimension – those who stood for privilege and foreign government, and those both of Irish and British stock, who stood for an Irish nation democratic and independent.’ (Quoted in Denis Carroll, The Man from God Knows Where, 1995; reviewed in Linenhall, Spring 1995, p.33.)

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References
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), lists Callaghan (Dublin: Lester 1921]), 248pp. [a returning American involved with Sinn Féin before 1916]; The Troubled House (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1938) [family divisions during Guerrilla Days]; The Rebel’s Wife, ‘autobiography’ of wife of Wolfe Tone (Tralee: Kerryman 1957); The Raven’s Glen (Figgis 1960) [present day Irish children’s story]

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Notes
Denis Ireland, in From an Irish Shore (1939), talks with lady author of biography of McCracken and ‘find it extremely difficult to make a solemn declaration to her, a graduate of TCD ... [&c.]’. Prob. Rosamund Jacob.

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