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Genteel Revolutionaries


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About the Author

Carmel Quinlan is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of History, University College Cork where she is also co-ordinator of the MA course in Women's Studies


This is not just a book about the struggle for women's voting rights in Ireland. Quinlan is certainly limited by archival material, but she has good scholarly habits, a clear writing style, a sensitivity to the larger issues in which the Haslams found themselves, and a talent for chronicling their efforts to change the wider Irish society's treatment of women within a very long period--from the Victorian era well into the 20th century. We get a glimpse of the younger Haslams as they embark on careers as social activists; we see their interaction with leading figures such as John Stuart Mill and Marie Stopes; and we get to see the older Haslams as they face a changing Ireland, complicated political issues (such as the Home Rule struggle), and growing aggressive tactics of a new generation of women who are also eager for equality, but less inhibited about how to achieve it. We also learn how the strength of a Quaker upbringing carried this couple through interesting times. Quaker Books for Friends (Vol. 5, No. 1) This is a fascinating and valuable acocunt of the lives of Anna and Thomas Haslam, activists on birth control, the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts,and votes for women. It also provides a unique insight into Irish life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and into the particularly Irish version of victorian culture that dominated at the time. The book begins with a lovely image of Anna casting her vote for the first time at age 90, in 1918; at the birth of the new Ireland, and at the end of her life. She and her husband had lived through famine, fenianism, land wards, home rule, world war and the 1916 rising. While the book is a sort of love story about their marriage, it covers far more than their lives together, and documents the often neglected story of the origins of the movements for birth control and women's rights in Ireland. The Haslams, in their moderation, the quiet certainty with which they pursued their politics, their willingness to work with others of opposing political persuasions, were truly revolutionary and we can now see in many ways ahead of their time. Their story has much to tell us, not just about our history, but about where we are today. Ivana Bacik Reid Chair of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology Trinty College Dublin

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