Shaw and Irish Anglican Preoccupations

  • David Clare
Part of the Bernard Shaw and His Contemporaries book series (BSC)


An immersion in the literature produced in Ireland in the two and a half centuries leading up to Bernard Shaw’s birth in 1856 reveals that three different Irish cultures were producing work in significant quantities: Irish Gaelic Catholics, Irish Anglicans (traditionally—and dubiously—called the Anglo-Irish), and Ulster Scots Presbyterians.1 Less famous but still intriguing works were being produced by smaller Irish subcultures: especially Irish Methodists, Irish Quakers, and Irish Jews.2 In studies on the Irish Shaw, such as this one, it should always be emphasized that Shaw belonged specifically to the Irish Anglican cultural tradition.


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    For an excellent sense of these three traditions coexisting, see Andrew Carpenter, ed. Verse in English from Eighteenth-Century Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts, 1998.Google Scholar
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    Notable writers from these backgrounds include the Methodist poet Mary Tighe (1772–1810), the Methodist novelist Selina Bunbury (1802–82), the Quaker poet John Perrot (d. 1665), the Quaker fiction writer Mary Leadbeater (1758–1826), and the various Jewish poets highlighted in Louis Hyman. The Jews of Ireland: From Earliest Times to the Year 1910. London: Jewish Historical Society of England/Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1972. Early accounts of Irish Travellers were invariably written by prejudiced non-Travellers. (See Jane Helleiner. Irish Travellers: Racism and the Politics of Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.)Google Scholar
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