Eva Gore-Booth: Collected Poems

Tiernan, Sonja (2018) Eva Gore-Booth: Collected Poems. Arlen House, Dublin, Ireland. ISBN 9781851321698

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Eva Gore-Booth was born on 22 May 1870 into a wealthy Anglo-Irish family in the West of Ireland. The Gore-Booth’s owned Lissadell House, a seventy-two roomed Greek revival mansion situated on a 32,000 acre estate in county Sligo. Eva’s parents were conscientious landlords and when a second wave of famine swept across the area, during the winter of 1879-80, they opened their food store for any tenant in need. This sense of responsibility for others less fortunate was to have an impact on the Gore-Booth children old enough to appreciate this event. The eldest of the Gore-Booth children, Constance, later Countess Markievicz, was to become a significant figure in the fight for Irish independence and a most accomplished Minister for Labour in the first Dáil Éireann. Eva’s older brother, Josslyn, became an influential advocate of co-operative farming in Ireland and worked closely with the agricultural reformer, Horace Plunket. Eva rejected her aristocratic life-style and moved to the industrial city of Manchester in 1897 where she lived and worked amongst the working classes, many of whom were Irish emigrants.
While in Manchester Gore-Booth became a successful and resourceful trade unionist and social reformer. She established unions for women workers previously ignored by mainstream organisations. In particular, she supported women in occupations thought to be morally precarious such as barmaids, circus performers, flower-sellers and pit-brow lasses. In her most infamous campaign, protecting the rights of women to work as barmaids, she orchestrated the defeat of no less an adversary than Winston Churchill. Due to her determined political campaigning she ousted Churchill from his Manchester constituency at a 1908 by-election, at a time when women had no entitlement to vote in general elections. Gore-Booth worked tirelessly for women’s suffrage and played an instrumental role in achieving votes for women. As well as her union work and suffrage campaigns, Gore-Booth authored nineteen volumes of published poetry, philosophical prose and drama. She was a persistent contributor to newspapers and journals as well as writing, sometimes politically contentious, pamphlets.
During World War One, Gore-Booth became a militant pacifist supporting conscientious objectors and publishing highly controversial condemnations of the war. Adopting a pacifist stance in England at this time was a particularly defiant act. Gore-Booth was at risk of appearing unpatriotic or worse labelled as a German sympathiser. She was a dedicated champion of Irish independence and in the wake of the Easter Rising, she supported the families of men killed during the insurrection, most notably Michael Mallin’s wife, Agnes, and Francis Sheehy-Skeffington’s wife, Hannah. Gore-Booth launched a campaign for the reprieve of Roger Casement’s death sentence, which although ultimately unsuccessful, gained international attention.
Gore-Booth became particularly concerned about capital punishment in the wake of the Easter Rising. Her concerns were realised when the Restoration of Order to Ireland Act was introduced in 1920 to quell the Irish war of Independence. The Act resulted in an alarming rise of execution rates in Ireland the following year. Gore-Booth remained politically active until her death in 1926 at the age of 56. She died at her then home in Hampstead, London with her partner, Esther Roper, by her side.

Item Type: Book
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History and Politics
Depositing User: Sonja Tiernan
Date Deposited: 17 May 2018 13:49
Last Modified: 17 May 2018 13:49
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2487

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