Catholic Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Mary R. Reichardt | Go to book overview

EDNA O’BRIEN (1932–)

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Tuamgraney, Ireland, on December 15, 1932, Edna O’Brien entered a world that would not only profoundly influence her development but also provide an imaginative resource for her fiction. The fifth child of Michael and Lena O’Brien, Edna was introduced to the life that was predetermined for Irish young girls in the 1930s. Speaking about her mother, O’Brien foreshadows the heroine of many of her stories: “I think my mother was exhausted, spent. She was a woman of considerable ambition, which she hadn’t realized” (McQuade, p. 48). O’Brien attended the National School of Scariff from 1936 to 1941 and then the Convent of Mercy in Loughrea. Her memories of the convent life are vividly portrayed in her memoir, Mother Ireland (1976), where she documents the conflicts between the rigidity of the religious system and the natural enthusiasm of the young women. Escaping from the parochialism of small-town existence, O’Brien traveled to Dublin in 1946 to work in a chemist’s shop and study at the Pharmaceutical College of Ireland at night. Living in Dublin transformed her life. Once she had broken the bonds of place and experienced the freedom of discovery, her natural gifts as a writer began to emerge.

O’Brien is often asked what prompted her transformation from student to writer. She eagerly retells the story: “The first book I ever bought—I’ve still got it—was called Introducing James Joyce by T. S. Eliot…. Reading that book made me realize that I wanted literature for the rest of my life” (Guppy, “The Art of Fiction,” p. 29). Joyce has been and continues to be a powerful influence on O’Brien. Besides writing a memoir of Joyce entitled James and Nora: A Portrait of a Marriage in 1981, her most recent analysis of Joyce, entitled simply James Joyce, was published in 1999. Joyce provided O’Brien with the perspective of a Catholic in Ireland. However, while Joyce captured the male reaction to Catholicism, O’Brien revealed the feminine confrontation with the patriarchal Church.

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Catholic Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Notes xxix
  • Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690) 1
  • Julia Alvarez (1950–) 7
  • Angela of Foligno (c.1248–1309) 13
  • Katherine Burton (1884–1969) 18
  • Elizabeth Cary (1585–1639) 24
  • Madre Castillo (1671–1742) 29
  • Bibliography 33
  • Willa Cather (1873–1947) 34
  • Bibliography 39
  • Catherine of Genoa (1447–1510) 41
  • Bibliography 45
  • Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) 46
  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951–1982) 52
  • Sandra Cisneros (1954–) 57
  • Clare of Assisi (1194–1253) 63
  • Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952–) 68
  • Elizabeth Cullinan (1933–) 74
  • Dorothy Day (1897–1980) 81
  • Annie Dillard (1945–) 89
  • Louise Erdrich (1954–) 95
  • Rosario FerrÉ (1938–) 102
  • Lady Georgiana Fullerton (1812–1885) 108
  • Rumer Godden (1907–1998) 114
  • Bibliography 120
  • Caroline Gordon (1895–1981) 121
  • Mary Gordon (1949–) 129
  • Louise Imogen Guiney (1861–1920) 136
  • Madame Guyon (1648–1717) 143
  • Madame Guyon (1648–1717) 149
  • Emily Henrietta Hickey (1845–1924) 155
  • Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) 161
  • Hrotsvit of Gandersheim (c. 935–c. 975) 169
  • Bibliography 173
  • Marie de L’incarnation (1599–1672) 175
  • Sor Juana InÉs de la Cruz (1648–1695) 181
  • Julian of Norwich (c. 1342–after 1413) 187
  • Sheila Kaye-Smith (1887–1956) 193
  • Margery Kempe (c. 1373–c. 1440) 200
  • Bibliography 205
  • Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851–1926) 207
  • Mary Lavin (1912–1996) 213
  • Bibliography 218
  • Denise Levertov (1923–1997) 220
  • Notes 226
  • Clare Boothe Luce (1903–1987) 228
  • Mary Mccarthy (1912–1989) 235
  • Rigoberta MenchÚ (1959–) 241
  • Alice Meynell (1847–1922) 247
  • Pilar MillÁn Astray (1879–1949) 254
  • Kathleen Norris (1947–) 261
  • Edna O’brien (1932–) 267
  • Bibliography 273
  • Flannery O’connor (1925–1964) 275
  • Bibliography 280
  • Eunice Odio (1919–1974) 283
  • Sister Carol Anne O’marie (1933–) 289
  • Bibliography 294
  • Emilia Pardo BazÁn (1851–1921) 295
  • Bibliography 299
  • Christine de Pizan (1365–c.1430) 301
  • Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980) 308
  • Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864) 315
  • Antonia Pulci (1452–1501) 320
  • Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) 326
  • Mary Anne Sadlier (1820–1903) 333
  • Bibliography 337
  • Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957) 338
  • Bibliography 342
  • Valerie Sayers (1952–) 344
  • Bibliography 350
  • Sophie Rostopchine, Countess de SÉgur (1799–1874) 351
  • Muriel Spark (1918–) 357
  • Edith Stein (1891–1942) 362
  • Bibliography 367
  • Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542–1587) 369
  • Notes 374
  • Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) 375
  • Bibliography 380
  • ThÉrÈse of Lisieux (1873–1897) 381
  • Bibliography 386
  • Sigrid Undset (1882–1949) 387
  • Bibliography 392
  • Simone Weil (1909–1943) 394
  • Antonia White (1899–1980) 398
  • Selected General Bibliography 403
  • Index 409
  • About the Editor and Contributors 417
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