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Lady Wilde (1821-1896)

“And no one knew how the flowers came into her dead hand.” –  “The Child’s Dream” (1887)

Jane Francesca, Lady Wilde (1821?-1896), born in Dublin, was a poet, folklorist, nationalist, and feminist who wrote under the name “Speranza”. Her earliest writings were published in The Nation, a pro-independence weekly newspaper; much of this nationalist poetry was collected in Poems (1864). She married the surgeon and writer Sir William Wilde in 1851 and had three children with him, among them Oscar Wilde. By the end of the 1860s Lady Wilde was hosting the most celebrated literary salon in Dublin at her home in Merrion Square, where Bram Stoker was a frequent guest. After her husband’s death, she joined her sons in London. Based on material collected by William Wilde in the west of Ireland, Lady Wilde produced two formidable volumes: Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland (1887) and Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland (1890). Living in relative poverty, she continued to write for magazines such as Pall Mall Gazette, Tinsley’s, and Burlington Magazine until her death on 3 February 1896.

Bending to Earth: Strange Stories by Irish Women edited by Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Order a copy of Bending to Earth.

Irish women have long produced literature of the gothic, uncanny, and supernatural. Bending to Earth draws together twelve such tales. While none of the authors herein were considered primarily writers of fantastical fiction during their lifetimes, they each wandered at some point in their careers into more speculative realms — some only briefly, others for lengthier stays.

Names such as Charlotte Riddell and Rosa Mulholland will already be familiar to aficionados of the eerie, while Katharine Tynan and Clotilde Graves are sure to gain new admirers. From a ghost story in the Swiss Alps to a premonition of death in the West of Ireland to strange rites in a South Pacific jungle, Bending to Earth showcases a diverse range of imaginative writing which spans the better part of a century.

Read an Extract from the Introduction to Bending to Earth.

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