New in Paper . . .
Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine
Maureen O’Rourke Murphy
The first biography of Asenath Nicholson, Compassionate Stranger recovers
the largely forgotten history of an extraordinary woman.
"Murphy’s beautifully written book is a fitting tribute to the kindness
and compassion of Asenath Nicholson. It is also the work of
an accomplished historian who has devoted five decades in pursuit
of her fascinating—if at times shadowy—subject."—Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies
"[Nicholson’s] sharp, compassionate, first-hand accounts of the human
dimension of Irish poverty were rooted in direct experience.
For this reason her evidence is of exceptional value. Her life and
work have found an exceptional chronicler."—Irish Literary Supplement
"Compassionate Stranger is not only a notable academic achievement
but is also a readable and tantalizing story of one powerful
woman’s drive to bring justice to the marginalized."—Irish America
"Meticulously researched, beautifully written, Compassionate
Stranger is a gift to scholarship, literature, Ireland, and to readers
everywhere who seek to understand both the hardship and nobility
of the poor."—Roger Rosenblatt, essayist for Time magazine and PBS NewsHour
"Compassionate Stranger is a landmark
work of historical exploration and scholarship.
Murphy has succeeded in rescuing
from undeserved obscurity a woman
of fierce determination and extraordinary
compassion."—Peter Quinn, best-selling author of Dry Bones
"A splendid biography of a remarkable woman."—Dublin Review of Books
Maureen O’Rourke Murphy is the Joseph L. Dionne Professor of Teaching, Literacy, and Leadership
at Hofstra University. She is coeditor of An Irish Literature Reader: Poetry, Prose, Drama,
the editor of Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger and Annals of the Famine in Ireland in 1847,
1848, and 1849, and the director of New York State’s Great Irish Famine Curriculum.
Book Description »[Close »]
Compassionate Stranger recovers
the largely forgotten history of an extraordinary woman. Trained as a schoolteacher,
Nicholson was involved in the abolitionist, temperance, and diet reforms
of the day before she left New York in 1844 "to personally investigate the
condition of the Irish poor." She walked alone throughout nearly every county
in Ireland and reported on conditions in rural Ireland on the eve of the Great
Irish Famine. She published Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger, an account of
her travels in 1847. She returned to Ireland in December 1846 to do what
she could to relieve famine suffering—first in Dublin and then in the winter of
1847–48 in the west of Ireland where the suffering was greatest. Nicholson’s
precise, detailed diaries and correspondence reveal haunting insights into the
desperation of victims of the Famine and the negligence and greed of those
who added to the suffering. Her account of the Great Irish Famine, Annals
of the Famine in Ireland in 1847, 1848 and 1849, is both a record of her
work and an indictment of official policies toward the poor: land, employment,
famine relief. In addition to telling Nicholson’s story, from her early life in Vermont
and upstate New York to her better-known work in Ireland, Murphy puts
Nicholson’s own writings and other historical documents in conversation. This
not only contextualizes Nicholson’s life and work, but it also supplements the
impersonal official records with Nicholson’s more compassionate and impassioned
accounts of the Irish poor.
View other series books on Irish Studies.
6 x 9, 400 pages, 36 black-and-white illustrations, 2 maps, bibliography, index