May Laffan

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Although she is relatively unknown today, ML 's journal attack on the convent education system, her four novels, one novella, and four short stories about late nineteenth-century Ireland (most published anonymously) were controversial and well-known in her time. She was also responsible for a translation and miscellaneous political writings. Her work deals with explicitly political subjects, such as Irish Home Rule, the Fenians, and poverty. She voices sympathy for the condition of the Irish people melded with a desire to achieve change through educational reform. Her writing is lively, and her characterizations particularly good.

Milestones

3 May 1849
Mary Laffan, who later called herself May , was born in Dublin.
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
18
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
June 1874
At the age of twenty-five ML published in Fraser's Magazine the anonymous article Convent Boarding-Schools for Young Ladies, an attack on the Catholic system of women's education.
Helena Kelleher Kahn claims that ML signed the article. While this is an error, it seems clear that she took no pains to hide that she was the author.
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
28
Blain, Virginia, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, editors. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. Yale University Press; Batsford, 1990.
Laffan, May. “Convent Boarding-Schools for Young Ladies”. Fraser’s Magazine, No. 54, pp. 778 - 86.
9.54 (June 1874): 778
Spring 1876
ML 's first—and most successful—novel, the satirical Hogan, M.P., appeared anonymously in three volumes.
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
72
OCLC WorldCat.
By 1 March 1879
ML 's highly regarded story about Irish street children entitled Flitters, Tatters and the Counsellor: Three Waifs from the Dublin Streets appeared in a small volume from Simpkin and Marshall in London, and Hodges, Foster, and Figgis in Dublin.
Athenæum. J. Lection.
2679 (1879): 278
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
170
Blain, Virginia, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, editors. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. Yale University Press; Batsford, 1990.
Hampton, Jill Brady. “Ambivalent Realism: May Laffan’s Flitters, Tatters, and the Counsellor’”. New Hibernia Review, No. 2, pp. 127 - 41.
128n4
Before August 1896
Eight years after her final novel appeared, and fourteen after she stopped writing fiction, ML (solicited by Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett ) submitted a paper to the Recess Committee on aspects of Irish Home Rule. It remains unpublished.
Hudson, David R. C. The Ireland that We Made. University of Akron Press, 2003.
109
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
8-9
23 June 1916
ML died in the Bloomfield Institution , an insane asylum in Dublin, from the lingering effects of a brain haemorrhage two months earlier.
Hampton, Jill Brady. “Ambivalent Realism: May Laffan’s Flitters, Tatters, and the Counsellor’”. New Hibernia Review, No. 2, pp. 127 - 41.
130
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
68

Biography

Birth and Family

3 May 1849
Mary Laffan, who later called herself May , was born in Dublin.
Kahn, Helena Kelleher. Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’s Political and Religious Controversies in the Fiction of May Laffan Hartley. ELT, 2005.
18
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.