© 2016

Irish Women Writers and the Modern Short Story

  • The first book dedicated solely to the short fiction of Irish women writers

  • Examines work by a variety of canonical and contemporary writers

  • The author has written widely on both Irish literature and short fiction


Table of contents

About this book


This book traces the development of the modern short story in the hands of Irish women writers from the 1890s to the present. George Egerton, Somerville and Ross, Elizabeth Bowen, Mary Lavin, Edna O’Brien, Anne Enright and Claire Keegan are only some of the many Irish women writers who have made lasting contributions to the genre of the modern short story - yet their achievements have often been marginalized in literary histories, which typically define the Irish short story in terms of its oral heritage, nationalist concerns, rural realism and outsider-hero. Through a detailed investigation of the short fiction of fifteen prominent writers, this study aims to open up this critical conceptualization of the Irish short story to the formal properties and thematic concerns women writers bring to the genre. What stands out in thematic terms is an abiding interest in human relations, whether of love, the family or the larger community. In formal terms, this book traces the overall development of the Irish short story, highlighting both the lines of influence that connect these writers and the specific use each individual author makes of the short story form. 


Irish literature Contemporary literature Modern literature Women's writing Short fiction

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

About the authors

Elke D’hoker is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she is also co-director of the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies. She has previously published Visions of Alterity (2004) and, as editor, Mary Lavin (2013) and The Irish Short Story (2015). 

Bibliographic information


“This is a stimulating and engaging account that justifies its focus on women writers by the fresh angles it opens up on the Irish short story so often viewed as settled around themes and styles defined by male writers and critics.” (Heather Ingman, Review of Irish Studies in Europe – RISE, Vol. 2 (01), March, 2018)

“D’hoker’s sensitive, measured study challenges the shibboleths on which accounts of the Irish short story have for too long rested. Exemplary close readings cast new light on familiar as well as neglected women writers, and the book makes a significant contribution to debates about gender and the short story genre.” (Adrian Hunter, University of Stirling, author of “The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English”)

“A wide-ranging and perceptive study. By focussing on women writers, Elke D'hoker casts an interesting new light on the Irish short story, encouraging us to rethink traditional approaches to the form." (Heather Ingman, Trinity College Dublin, author of “A History of the Irish Short Story”)

“This book provides a comprehensive, original and engaging history of Irish women writers’ engagement with the modern short story. D'Hoker skilfully interweaves close readings of individual stories with rich comparative analyses, and reveals fascinating lines of influence and impulses for innovation within twentieth-century Irish women’s writing. As a result, our understanding of these writers' distinctive achievements in the short story form is greatly and pleasurably advanced.” (Margaret Kelleher, University College Dublin, Ireland)