Northern Irish Literature 2

Early 20th century Northern Irish novelists

Between 1905 and his death in 1950, George A Birmingham (the pen name of James Owen Hannay) published 60 works of fiction, as well as four autobiographical works and miscellaneous journalism.  One novel, General John Regan, was produced as a play in 1913 and scandalised Westport, leading to riot, boycotts, and the burning of Hannay’s effigy.

Like many of Birmingham’s novels, General John Regan casts a gently and humorously sceptical eye on Irish pieties. The Northern Iron and The Red Hand of Ulster both explore the political and the comic possibilities offered by the tension between Ulster Protestantism and Irish nationalism.

Helen Waddell’s poetry, translations and literary studies draw upon ‘the seeming paradoxes of the religious humanist and the Belfast Romantic’. Peter Abelard (1933) gathers these preoccupations into a novel, which was reprinted nine times in its first year of publication.

Clive Staples Lewis was born on the eastern outskirts of Belfast in 1898, but retained an ambivalent relationship with his birthplace. Best known today for the Narnia novels The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), Prince Caspian (1951), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), The Silver Chair (1953), The Magician’s Nephew (1955) and The Last Battle (1956), Lewis was also a literary critic, poet, and Christian apologist.