Alicia Le Fanu (1753-1817)

Notes

Life
[née Alicia Sheridan, Mrs. Le Fanu] b. Dorset St., Dublin; dg. of Thomas Sheridan and Frances Chamberlaine Sheridan; sis. of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, m. Joseph Le Fanu, 1776; grandmother of J. S. Le Fanu; author of Sons of Erin, or, Modern Sentiments, a 5 act com. (Lyceum Th., London 1812), afterwards played in Dublin; d. Royal Hibernian Military Hospital, Phoenix Park, Dublin, where her son was chaplain; called by Moore the only surviving sister of Sheridan when he visited her in Leamington Spa in 1818; see remarks in Lady Morgan’s Memoirs. ODNB RAF RR OCIL

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Criticism
See Dawn Duncan, Postcolonial Theory in Irish Drama from 1800-2000 (Lampeter, Wales: Mellen Press 20004), 272pp. [treats of Friel with Alicia LeFanu, Dion Boucicault & W. B. Yeats].

Online
Julia M. Wright, ‘Introduction to Lefanu’s The Sons of Erin’, in British Women Playwrights around 1800 [Montreal Univ.] - 15 June 2004; online; accessed 13.04.2010.)
Anne Jamison ‘Alicia Lefanu’ in “Irish Women Poets of the Romantic Period” at Alexander Street Press - online [password required].

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Commentary
Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. 1, notes that Alicia Le Fanu depicts a loyal Irish gentleman [i.e., Catholic loyal to the Britain monarchy] of whom another character says, ‘But now I recollect, that tho’ you Irishmen do sometimes run away with our women, you were never known to run away from our enemies.’ (The Sons of Erin, 1812, pp.89-90.)

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Dawn Duncan, ‘Compassionate Contact: When Irish Playwrights Reach Out For Others’, in Irish Studies in Brazil, ed. Munira H. Mutran & Laura P. Z. Izarra [Pesquisa e Crítica, 1] (Brazil: Associação Editorial Humanitas 2005): ‘Irish playwrights of the nineteenth century had to reckon with the strictures of colonialism even while resisting it. Some, like Alicia Le Fanu in the 1812 Songs of Erin [...] would employ comedy to make their points from behind a mask of laughter.’ (p.49.)

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Claire Connolly, ‘Irish Romanticism, 1800-1839’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. I [Chap. 10]: ‘References to contemporary events, including the passing of the Act of Union, can be found in Alicia Le Fanu’s The Sons of Erin (1812). First performed at the Lyceum theatre in London before being taken up in Dublin, the play seeks to counter metropolitan prejudices against the Irish, espeically their reputations as fortune-hunters and bad husbands. To the stock characters of stage Irish servant and charming rogue, it adds a “Lady of science” who is na advocate for the “rights of rational creatures”. (Julia M. Wright, ‘Introduction to Lefanu’s The Sons of Erin', British Playwrights Around 1800, at Montreal Univ, online; Connolly, p.428.) [For details from Wright, see Notes, infra.]

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References
Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.372 [short life].

D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), gives bio-dates 1754-1817; her Sons of Erin was successful in London as Prejudice, or Modern Sentiment; wrote some novels [unnamed]; anthol. in Joseph Edkins’s collection (1789-90); a poem of hers appears in Samuel Whyte’s Poems.

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Notes
The Sons of Erin (1812): Emily Rivers, a member of a warmly anti-Irish family, elopes with Arthur Fitz Edward after her mother's death and her father's remarriage to a younger woman, only to be disowned by her family. Fitz Edward is in dire straits having frittered his money and lost his seat in the Irish parliament after the Act of Union. He travels in search of employment with his servant Patrick O’Shee and discoves that his cousin Lady Ann Lovel, to whom he was formerly attracted, is being courted by the Captain Rivers. Lady Ann brings Fitz Edward into the Rivers home disguised as one Melville and finds him work as a secretary to Miss Ruth Rivers, the scientist in the family. Meanwhile Mrs. Rivers has fallen for a rake. Fitz Edward is equal to his task and averts the Rivers’ marital crisis becoming the hero of the household. Emily arrives home thinking that he has abandoned her for his former friend Lady Ann but the couple are soon reunited and the abandons its former anti-Irish prejudice. (See Julia M. Wright, ‘Introduction to Lefanu’s The Sons of Erin’, in British Women Playwrights around 1800 [Montreal Univ.] - 15 June 2004; online; accessed 13.04.2010.).

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