Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Charles Lever and Ireland
Author: Skinner, A. Maria
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Following imposition of the Act of Union, which came into force on 1 January (1801), a literary market developed amongst English readers who wanted to understand more about Ireland. The market for novels about Ireland flourished. Charles James Lever, a writer whose work too few are really familiar with today, and whose reputation deserves rescuing from obscurity, rose to tremendous popularity in the late 1830s. Charles Lever's remarkable commercial success was initially established using some carelessly constructed clichés of Irishness, intended to amuse an increasingly lucrative English market. This is one of the reasons that his work has subsequently been overlooked. Critical neglect of Lever's work can in part be attributed to Yeats' failure to appreciate the value of his later work, particularly in terms of Lever's post-1844 Irish historical fiction. Lever's posthumous reputation has also suffered because too many scholars have relied upon regenerating the opinions of earlier critics who have, like Yeats, not really engaged with the breadth of Lever's work. Lever's contemporaries, Anthony Trollope and particularly William Makepeace Thackeray, drew inspiration from him, and sought to emulate Lever's success with their own 'Irish' novels, based on the popularity of Irish subject matter in the early stage of their careers. But Catholic Emancipation, the Great Irish Famine, the struggle for Repeal of the Union, the Papal Aggression, and discourse in England regarding the 'Irish Question', all served to dampen the market for novels with an Irish setting, prompting Trollope and Lever to leave Irish subject matter alone by the mid-nineteenth century. Charles Lever's continued insistence on chronicling Ireland's historic explanations of contemporary issues, had to compete with increasingly negative constructions of Irish national identity in England. By the early 1850s, Lever had realised that the mythical vision of the landlord-tenant compact, that he had endorsed as a younger man, was no longer possible in light of the massive social upheaval manifested by the Famine, and his novels became increasingly complex, as he continued his mission to explain Ireland to an English market that was less inclined to want to understand. There is a discernible progression in Lever's writing towards an Irish nationalist argument, for which Lever has never fully been credited. His misconstrued reputation as an enduring Tory-Unionist, has obscured the value of his contribution to the nineteenth-century Irish nationalist debate, and this thesis seeks to rectify misinformed judgements on Lever's work.
Supervisor: Birch, Dinah ; Marsden, Simon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral