Focusing on women's relationships, decisions and agency, this is the first study of women's experiences in a nineteenth-century Irish prison for serious offenders. Showcasing the various crimes for which women were incarcerated in the post-Famine period, from repeated theft to murder, Elaine Farrell examines inmate files in close detail in order to understand women's lives before, during and after imprisonment. By privileging case studies and individual narratives, this innovative study reveals imprisoned women's relationships with each other, with the staff employed to manage and control them, and with their relatives, spouses, children and friends who remained on the outside. In doing so, Farrell illuminates the hardships many women experienced, their poverty and survival strategies, as well as their responsibilities, obligations, and decisions. Incorporating women's own voices, gleaned from letters and prison files, this intimate insight into individual women's lives in an Irish prison sheds new light on collective female experiences across urban and rural post-Famine Ireland.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Number of pages: 330
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 160 x 235 x 20 mm
'The first comprehensive analysis of incarcerated women in Irish history, this book is nothing short of path breaking. Persuasive, innovative, and convincing, Farrell's book integrates the history of institutions in Ireland - a current fascination of many - with astute analyses of gender and sexuality, 'deviance' and criminality, and bodies and emotions. In the hands of this skilful historian, the daily struggles and triumphs of ordinary if 'outcast' women in the past come alive, providing essential context for discussions of gender in Irish life today.' Cara Delay, College of Charleston
'This work is a microcosm of nineteenth century Irish society dealing with gender, class, religion, poverty, and emigration. By reconstructing the experience of the female prisoner, her family and friends and the female staff within the prison system, it offers a new understanding of crime and punishment at the time.' Bernadette Whelan, University of Limerick
'The merit of this work, when reviewed within our long tradition of top-down historical writing, is the fact that the extraordinary exists merely in the ordinary.' Judy Bolger, Book Reviews (www.womenshistoryassociation.com)