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Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine
     

Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine

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by Maureen O'Rourke Murphy, Margaret Kelleher (Other), Christine Kinealy (Other)
 

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The first biography of Asenath Nicholson, Compassionate Stranger recovers the largely forgotten history of an extraordinary woman. Trained as a school teacher, 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

Overview

The first biography of Asenath Nicholson, Compassionate Stranger recovers the largely forgotten history of an extraordinary woman. Trained as a school teacher, 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in Vermont and upstate New York to her better-known work in Ireland, Murphy puts Nicholson's own writings and other historical documents in conversation.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.

Editorial Reviews

author of This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine, 1845-52 - Christine Kinealy
The author has brought the story of a remarkable American woman, Asenath Nicholson, to a wider audience. While the book is based on an impressive range of primary source material, it is written in such a way as to have a much wider appeal. . . . Nicholson's own writings are already mandatory reading in a number of Irish history courses in Ireland and the US, and this book will become an essential companion.
author of Feminization of Famine - Margaret Kelleher
This compelling biography offers a much needed portrait of one of the most significant commentators on Ireland before and during the Great Irish Famine; Murphy's welcome and highly entertaining study greatly advances our understanding of the political and social contexts which shaped her.
essayist for Time magazine and PBS NewsHour - Roger Rosenblatt
It takes one extraordinary mind to know another, and Maureen Murphy's story of Asenath Nicholson proves it. Had Murphy not unearthed and revealed the tale of Nicholson's tireless courage and intelligent kindness toward the Irish during the Great Famine, we would not know of a remarkable woman or of a time, place and people indispensable to history. 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.
Dublin Review of Books
Splendid biography of a remarkable woman.
Irish Literary Supplement
[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 has found an exceptional chronicler.
Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies
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.
bestselling author of Dry Bones - Peter Quinn
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. Meticulously researched and lucidly written, Compassionate Stranger gives us Asenath Nicholson in full: social reformer, abolitionist, temperance crusader, missionary, and angel of mercy among the Irish people in the hour of their greatest need.
Irish University Review
This biography affirms Murphy's place as the foremost scholar on the life and writings of Asenath Nicholson.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815610441
Publisher:
Syracuse University Press
Publication date:
01/15/2015
Series:
Irish Studies
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
568,753
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a tourist's /ethnic understanding of the Irish famine and this book amplifies the context, background and circumstances through a highly engaging story of one American woman's effort to do good, literally, to the poor before and after the famine of 1847 in Ireland. Incidentally and even more engaging is the story of abolition movement and the lives of prominent New Yorkers...as well as a host of social issues and their relevance to each other...nutrition, hygiene, housing, ad well as political and interest groups. Forget Ireland, almost, it is a snapshot of New York 19cc vitality and altruism.