W.J. Mc Cormack is Professor of Literary History, Goldsmiths College, University of London. His other recent books are "Fool of the Family: A Life of J. M. Synge" (Weidenfeld) and "The Silence of Barbara Synge" (Manchester University Press). Under the name Hugh Maxton, he has published eight collections of verse, the most recent being "Gubu Roi: Poems and Satires 1991-2000" (2000), and a prose memoir, "Waking: An Irish Protestant Upbringing" (1997).
Roger Casement, the retired British consular official tried for treason and executed for securing German rifles to help the 1916 Rising in Ireland, has been a focus of controversy since the 1930s, with specific reference to the so-called Black diaries allegedly forged by British intelligence in c.1916. Forensic tests on the diaries commissioned by a committee chaired by W.J. McCormack have now shown that the diaries were written by Casement. This work is centred on W.J. Maloney, whose 1936 book, "The Forged Casement Diaries", brought the topic to the attention of the Irish public, and was part of an Irish-American campaign to influence the domestic politics of the Irish Free State. The book raises questions about intelligence work, archival engineering, IRA unofficial action, Nazi propaganda and new light is shed on major figures such as Eamon de Valera and W.B. Yeats, as well as on a cast of colourful bit players.
Sixteen men the English shot?
the view from radical Hampstead
the forged Casement diaries (1936)
managing Dr Maloney
ballads and blackmail
the buff diary
an orientalist fantasia
more about Maloney
second thoughts after Pearl Harbour
textual corruption, or, the diaries in today's retrospect
economies of writing. Appendix 1 An amateur on forensics - dropped 'a' in a letter by Ben S. Allen. Appendix 2 How not to do history. Appendix 3 The secondary literature. Appendix 4 Biographical register.
"Mc Cormack ... does nothing so crass as blame the victim - his sympathy for Casement is clear - but it's fair to say that he seems keen to shatter republican myths of the martyred patriot."
Sunday Times August 2002
"[Mc Cormack] describes his own detective work in tracking down those involved in rubbishing the forgery theory, and uncovers an Irish-American campaign which tried to influence Irish domestic politics."
Sunday Business Post Oct 2002
"follows forensic proof ... that Casement's ‘Black Diaries', which helped quash a campaign for his reprieve ... were not forged by British Intelligence. Mc Cormack suggests that many Irishmen knew this all along, but deliberately used Casement's ‘martyrdom' as an anti-British propaganda tool."
BBC History Nov 2002
"Mc Cormack's methodical investigation of Casement, and in particular his relentless examination of William Joseph Maloney, author of The Forged Casement Diaries (1936), the classic exposition of the forgery thesis, ought to be the last word on the topic."
Times Literary Supplement Nov 2002
"Professor McCormack has waded into the centre of [the Casement] controversy with a book that is not recommended reading for nationalists of the old school who have a propensity to apoplexy."
Irish Democrat Dec 2002/Jan 2003