L. Perry Curtis, Jr, whose books include Coercion and Conciliation in Ireland (1963) and Apes and Angels (1971, 1997), retired from the Departments of History and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University in 2001 and now lives in Vermont.
Dispossession has a long and tortuous history in Ireland, reaching back to the eleventh century. In the Victorian era, evictions became major social, cultural and political events, especially with the notorious clearances of the Great Famine years. In numbers, evictions declined dramatically after the mid-1850s, but in terms of media attention and political import they reached their zenith in the 1880s after the founding of the Irish National Land League. When tenantry defended their abodes, reporters and artists flocked to the scene and their descriptions of these conflicts form the central part of this book. Drawing on memoirs, ballads, poems, folklore and novels and providing numerous illustrations of contemporary prints and photographs, Curtis provides the first book-length study of rural evictions over a period of sixty years.
Dispossession and Irish Land Laws
The Famine Evictions
The First Land War, 1879-83
The Second Land War, 1886-90
The Plan Evictions, 1887-90
The Battering Ram, 1887-90
- The Olphert Estate, 1888-90
Plus ca Change, 1890-1900
The Third Land War, 1900-10
- The Land Quest
‘Curtis’s book is thoroughly researched and provides micro-narratives of dozens of notable evictions over a sixty-five year period. They often make fascinating reading at the level of human drama.’
Victorian Studies, Summer 2013
'As veteran American historian, L. Perry Curtis Jr, reminds us at the start of this important new study, forcible ejection from one's homestead is as old as Adam and Eve. Like the loss of Eden, evictions in Ireland in the nineteenth century are an integral part of our collective memory. Curtis's book elucidates why this is so in a highly innovative way.
Recent historical research has established that eviction in post-Famine Ireland affected only a tiny percentage of the estimated 600,000 tenants in Ireland. While not challenging this reality, Curtis seeks to recapture the misery and cruelty which each eviction entailed – an angle which he rightly feels has been lost in the analysis of the limited scale of the evictions. He does this by means of memoirs, folklore, ballads, poems, novels, press reports – and, most vividly, through numerous well-chosen illustrations of contemporary prints, cartoons, photographs and paintings. The range of Curtis's material is enormous, the fruit of a long lifetime in this field.
Many of the illustrations are in full colour, a luxury which few publishers in Ireland today extend to their authors. UCD Press are to be congratulated on this magnificent volume, which excels even their customary high standard of production.'
7 July 2011
'I regard Curtis as one of the most innovative of modern Irish historians … I recommend Curtis’s book with great enthusiasm as making some new and important points about something that has received a lot of attention.'
'This interesting work comprises a valuable addition to scholarship on the subject. The … author, who is professor emeritus of history at Brown University, in the US, and is already well known for his seminal work on the visual depiction of Irish people in 19th-century Britain, is to be congratulated on his latest achievement.'
Gerard Lyne in Irish Times
1 October 2011
'American historian Perry Curtis has often enlivened Irish history; and his latest opus, The Depiction of Eviction in Ireland 1845–1910 is a bracing narrative woven from press reports, literature, letters, memoirs, ballads and chilling folklore. He also examines key Irish paintings and satirical drawings, which have long been his signature tune.'
Irish Arts Review, Spring 2012
'The Depiction of Eviction in Ireland provides a uniquely panoramic representation of the eviction process. This first book-length study of the topic is a welcome addition to nineteenth-century Irish historiography. Curtis’s informative book, packed with a range of vivid depictions of eviction, supported by relevant estate examples, and interspersed with lively anecdotes will appeal to both academics and nineteenth century enthusiasts alike.'
Scoláire Staire January 2012