Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s, anyone interested in reading would be familiar with the Irish Writers poster. My Dad had the poster framed in his study and I had one on my bedroom wall, along with a set of Irish writers coasters. For several years I even had an Irish Writers calendar.
What is striking today about the poster, is the lack of women writers. Twelve writers were included, all were male.
To mark International Women’s Day, the Irish TImes has produced a female version of the poster, celebrating the rich and diverse tradition of women writers in Ireland. The poster features Maria Edgeworth, Augsta Gregory, Somerville & Ross, Kate O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, Mary Lavin, Maeve Brennan, Edna O’Brien, Jennifer Johnston, Eavan Boland and Anne Enright and youcan download it here.
For the last few weeks the Irish Times have been asking leading Irish writers, commentators and academics to produce short essays on their favourite female writers and the results are intriguing. You can read them online at The Irish TImes women’s writers page, but here are a few of those included;
Margaret Kelleher on Maria Edgeworth
Colm Toibin on Lady Gregory
Anne Haverty on Somerville & Ross
Eilis Ni Dhuibhine on Kate O’Brien
John Banville on Elizabeth Bowen
Belinda McKeon on Mary Lavin
Ane Enright on Maeve Brennan
Eimear McBride on Edna O’Brien
Eileen Battersby on Jennifer Johnston
Gerard Smyth on Eavan Boland
Claire Hennessey on Marian Keyes
Sinead Crowley on Maeve Binchy
Joseph O’Connor on Emma Donoghue
Nuala NiChonchuir on Anne Enright
As Martin Doyle, in his introduction to the Women’s Writers poster says, ‘This is not the end of the story but, with luck, the start of the conversation.’
In th next few weeks I’ll be continuing that conversation in my own little corner, focusing on women writers from Ireland, with reviews of Edna O’Brien, Leland Bardwell and Eimear McBride, alongside an interview with Nuala NiChonchuir.
Long may the conversation continue.