W. G. Lyttle

Life
1844-1896 [Wesley Guard Lyttle; pseud. ‘Robin’]; b. Newtownards, Co. Down; self-educated; known as Robin for numerous poems in Downshire farmer dialect; 8 vols. of Robin’s Readings, being records of the pieces he used as scripts for his popular performances throughout Ulster, based on ‘life in Ballycuddy, Co. Down’; junior reporter, school teacher, lecturer on Dr Corry’s Irish Diorama, tacher of short-hand; accountant, newspaper proprietor, editor, and printer; stories include Sons of the Sod (q.d.) ; Betsy Gray (1888), a tale of ’98, formerly printed in the Mourne Observer, Newcastle, Co. Down, in 1886 and reissued in an edition revised by F. J. Bigger (1913); also Daft Eddie and the Smugglers of Strangford Lough (1890), first printed in North Down Herald; started The North Down and Bangor Gazette, strong liberal and Home Rule paper; d. 1 Nov. IF PI APPL

See Betsy Grey, or The Hearts of Down, with Other Stories and Pictures of '98 (1896), as collected by and published in The "Mourne Observer", Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, in Lisburn Historical Journal [1997] - online.

 

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Works
Sons of the Sod
(Bangor 1886); Robin’s Reading; Betsy Gray, or Hearts of Down: A Tale of Ninety-Eight [ ’98] , with Other Stories of ’98 (Bangor 1888), Do. [another edn.] (Belfast: R. Carswell & Son [c.1915]), [4], 168pp., 2 pls.; and Do. [rep.], ed. Aiken McClelland, as W. G. Lyttle, Betsy Gray or Hearts of Down with Other Stories and Pictures of 98 (Newcastle: Mourne Observer 2000), 207pp.; Daft Eddie; or, The Smugglers of Strangford Lough (Newcastle: Mourne Observer 1914), and Do., rep. edn. (Newcastle, Co. Down: Mourne Observer Press 1979), 86pp., with ports. and an appendix by W. H. Carson & D. J. Hawthorne [infra].

Daft Eddie; or, The Smugglers of Strangford Lough (Newcastle, Co. Down: Mourne Observer Press 1979), 86pp., ill., ports. [26cm]; originally published in the North Down Herald and later in book form c.1890].

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Commentary
Loreto Todd, The Language of Irish Literature (Macmillan 1989), ‘a prolific writer, keenly interested in the representation of dialect; Todd quotes a passage illustrating the use of Ulster Scots and Standard English for two roles, that of Mat, the lower-class character, and George Gray, the educated character, though both of Scots origin; at the close of the passage, however, Gray uses HE foregrounding, ‘It’s joking you are, Mat,’ he exclaimed.’ [Todd, p.134.]

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References
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), Robin’s Reading; Sons of the Sod [1886] ; Betsy Gray (1888; revised by F. J. Bigger, 1913); The Smugglers of Strangford Lough; Daft Eddie (1914).

Brian Walker, ed., Faces of Ireland (Belfast: Appletree 1992), ‘Robin’; career as journalist, ed. North Down and Bangor Gazette; early teacher of short-hand in Belfast; wrote novels using Co. Down dialect; Walker lists Sons of the Sod (Bangor 1886); Betsy Gray, a tale of ninety-eight ([1888]; rep. Newcastle co. Down 1968).

COPAC lists The adventures of Paddy Mc uillen [Rpbin's Readings Ser.] (Spectator Office 1908), [4], 78, [8]pp. [18.2cm]; 3. Betsy Gray, etc. [6th edn.] (1913); Betsy Gray; or, Hearts of Down: a tale of Ninety-eight (Belfast: Carswell 1894; 1913, 1915), 168pp.; Daft Eddie, or, The Smugglers of Strangford Lough (1979 [rep. edn.]; Robin's readings (1900); Sons of the Sod: A Tale of county Down (Bangor: printed by the author 1886), vii,[2],10-170pp.; What's to be seen, and how to see it: Bangor, Groomsport, Donaghadee [with] The parables of the rulers, a skit upon the doings of the Bangor Town Commissioners ... Abridged facsimile. (1977).

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Notes
Betsy Gray or, Hearts of Down; A Tale of Ninety-Eight (Belfast: Carswell 1888): Lyttle’s account of the death of Betsy Gray, dg. of a widowed farmer of some wealth, while defending her wounded lover (William Boal) and her brother George, all participants in the Battle of Ballinahinch, is incorporated in Cheryl Herr’s intro. to For the Land They Loved, Irish Political Melodramas (1991), p.45-46.

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