June Levine

WorksQuotationsNotes

Life
1931-2008; b. 31 Dec., S. Circular Rd., Dublin, of Jewish parents; feminist journalist and novelist; commencing on The Irish Times in 1949 [?aetat. 15], writer about Jews emigrating to Palestine and the wives of circus performers; m. Kenneth Mesbur, 1940, and settled nr. Ontario, Canada, 1956 - with whom three children, Adam, Diane and Mike; returned to Ireland with her children in the early 1960s, following her husband's infidelity; contrib. to Irish Women's Review and the Irish Bystander and assoc. with Mary Kenny, Margaret Gaj and Mary Maher in Irish feminist movement; ed. Irish Woman’s Journal; worked for five years as a researcher on The Late Late Show (RTÉ); issued Sisters (Swords 1982; 1985), a popular success, which incls. her admission of having had an abortion in Britain in 1967, discussion of which was then banned on RTÉ in 1983; wrote Lyn: A Life of Prostitution, the story of Lyn Madden, which was serialised in Magill, ed. Colm Toibí, 1983; published in book-form, 1987; travelled to Canada with Nell McCafferty in 1988, stirring controversy about use of Lottery Funds, the application being made by her publisher; ed., with others, the Field Day Anthology of Irish Women's Writing; met Ivor Browne shortly after his separation in the 1960s, and lived with him thereafter before ultimately marrying him in 1999; d. 14 Oct. 2008. DIW

[ top ]

Works
Sisters: The Personal Story of an Irish Feminist (Dublin: Ward River Press 1982; rev. edn. Poolbeg 1985), 308pp.; Lyn: A Life of Prostitution (Dublin: Attic Press 1987), 275pp.; A Season of Weddings (New Island Press 1992), 285pp. [novel].

[ top ]

Quotations
Obituary (The Irish Times, 18 Oct. 2008) incls. quoted remarks: ‘In those days I didn't know that I had a right to ask myself who I was and where I wanted to go quite apart from my husband and family and so I went mad’. ‘How I escaped it all was that my husband went off with somebody else while I was in hospital and my mother insisted I come home to Ireland to rest up and get things in perspective, and when I got home my husband told me not to bother coming back.’ ‘The women’s movement started in Dublin and I discovered that I hadn't done anything awful, had not made any dreadful mistakes, and was not a colossal failure [...] I had just been born a woman and had not understood the rules of the game. The women in the women's movement here rescued me. They made me realise that I was okay.’

[ top ]

References
Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), quotes Sisters: The Personal Story of an Irish Feminist (1982; Poolbeg 1985).

[ top ]

Notes
For her marriage to Ivor Browne, see Browne, Music and Madness (reviewed in Books Ireland, May 2008, p.101.)

[ top ]